The scabioses are protected in some regions of Germany. Of the approximately 100 species, around 20 occur in Europe, such as the scented or velvety scabious. Depending on the species, their flowers appear from June to October. They appear in different shades, from white and pink to scarlet and crimson to light violet or blue. The growth heights that these plants reach are between 30 and 50 cm. As a rewarding rock garden, bed and border perennial or meadow flower, it sets very beautiful color accents alongside ornamental grasses, cornflowers or white candytuft, for example. It is an excellent gap filler and can be cultivated very well in a bucket. It comes into its own in cottage gardens and flower gardens designed in a rural style.

location and soil

Scabioses love wind-protected, warm and full sun locations, but also thrive in slightly semi-shaded places. At best, they are in the sun for more than half the day. Shadow is only briefly tolerated.

The soil should preferably be permeable, fresh to moderately dry, nutritious and calcareous. Very acidic soils are not tolerated by these plants. Scabioses are usually relatively short-lived on heavy soils. Such soils can be improved with coarse sand or gravel, for example.

watering and fertilizing

Depending on the weather and location, watering should be done regularly, but especially in the case of prolonged drought, whereby scabious sometimes tolerate drought quite well. If these plants suffer from a lack of water, this can usually be recognized by limp, hanging leaves, and then they should be watered as soon as possible. However, waterlogging should always be avoided.

Both organic and mineral fertilizers can be used for fertilization. In spring, for example, you can administer a long-term perennial fertilizer. You calculate about 20-30 g per square meter. If you are unsure, you should seek advice from a garden store.


  • In autumn, scabioses are usually cut off at ground level.
  • Withered flowers and inflorescences should be removed regularly.
  • as can prolong the flowering well into autumn.
  • However, this also prevents the plants in question from self-seeding.


Depending on the species, these plants can be propagated by seed or division. For example, the varieties ‘Blue Atlas’, ‘Clive Greaves’, ‘Moth’ and ‘Miss Willmott’ can only be propagated by division. Most other varieties such as ‘Perfecta Alba’, ‘Butterfly Blue’, ‘Fama’, ‘Pink Mist’, ‘Nana’ or the yellow scabious can be propagated by seed, with some species also propagating by self-sowing.

Propagation by seed

Annual species are usually sown in situ in the garden in spring. If you want to use seeds from existing plants, you can collect them after flowering and overwinter them in a cool, dark and well-ventilated place. In late spring, the seeds can then be sown directly outdoors.

The seeds are placed about 3 mm deep in the ground and then lightly covered with soil. Then the whole thing is kept slightly moist. If the small seedlings are big enough, you can separate them to about 30 cm or plant them in their final location.

In addition to direct sowing, pre-cultivation in January or February indoors under glass or foil is also possible. Pulling forward at the beginning of the year usually produces the most seedlings.

For this purpose, the seeds are distributed in a cultivation vessel in the appropriate substrate and thinly covered with substrate. Now the whole thing is moistened and covered with glass or foil to create an optimal climate for germination. When the first cotyledons appear, the cover can be removed so that the seedlings can get used to the outdoor climate. When at least two pairs of leaves have developed, the young plants can be pricked out and finally planted outside from mid-May.

propagation by division

As already mentioned, some species can be propagated by division. Division makes sense, especially with older perennials or those that only bloom very sparingly. Early spring is the best time for this. To do this, dig up the perennials, if possible without damaging the roots too much, and carefully pull the plant apart. The newly acquired plants are then planted at their future location in appropriately prepared soil and watered well.

Propagation by cuttings

Scabioses can also be propagated by cuttings. Corresponding, about 3 cm long cuttings or shoot tips can be cut from the mother plant below a leaf axis from spring to early summer. Then the bottom leaves are removed, the cuttings are placed in appropriate potting soil and covered with foil. It usually takes between 4-6 weeks for roots to form. When the first new leaves form, this is a sign that it is well rooted and can be planted out accordingly.

Purchased scabious from the garden trade

  • Of course, the easiest way is to plant purchased specimens in the garden.
  • These plants can be planted out from spring to autumn.
  • In spring they usually look relatively unsightly because they have not yet formed any leaves.
  • However, it is not the leaves that are decisive, but a well-rooted bale.
  • Their aerial parts will develop once established in their new location.


Before planting, it is advisable to loosen the soil deeply and work in compost. Clay soils can be loosened with a layer of sand about 5 cm thick, raked into the soil.

Now a planting hole is dug, which corresponds to twice the bale size. The plant is then planted as deep as it was previously in the pot. Then press the soil firmly and water the whole thing well so that the root ball can soak up the water.


The annual species do not survive the winter, but sometimes self-sow, so that new plants can develop again the next year. Perennial species overwinter in the form of hibernation buds that survive on the soil surface.

By the way, to protect them from severe frosts, it is advisable to cover them with a layer of foliage. A relatively dense snowpack serves the same purpose. This allows the plants to sprout again in the spring from the overwintering buds. Scabioses cultivated in tubs should be placed in a sheltered location over the winter and covered with brushwood or leaves if necessary. A frost-free hibernation is usually not necessary.

Beautiful varieties

  • Skabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ – Tauben-Skabiose
    • particularly ornamental, perennial species
    • striking lavender blue flowers from July to September
    • about 30-40 cm high
    • hardy to -23.3 degrees
  • Samt-Skabiose atropurpurea – Weinrote Skabiose
    • annual to biennial variety
    • dark, wine-red flowers with white stamens from June to September
    • about 40 cm high
    • It is particularly effective in smaller groups of 3-5 plants
  • Skabiosa caucasica ‘Perfecta Alba’ – Garten-Skabiose
    • bright white flowers from July to September
    • Growth height of 70-80 cm
    • absolutely hardy to -34.5 degrees
  • Skabiosa ochroleuca ‘Moon Dance’ – Gelbe Skabiose
    • Continuous bloomers, light yellow flowers from July to September
    • Growth height about 40 cm
    • Combined with feather grasses, it sets special accents
    • hardy to -23.4 degrees
  • Scabiosa columbaria „Pink Mist“
    • A variety that grows 30-40 cm high
    • develops particularly effective pink flowers
    • appear as early as March after mild winters, otherwise from July to October
    • Remove faded ones regularly, then it will keep producing new flowers until the onset of winter
    • hardy to -23.4 degrees
  • Scabiosa canescens – scented or orchid scabious
    • light blue flowers exude a strong fragrance
    • endangered in Bavaria and now a rarity
    • grows to about 40 cm high
    • blooms from July to September
    • hardy to – 23.4 degrees
  • ‘Perfecta’ Caucasian Scabiosa – Große-Skabiose
    • 60-80 cm tall, deciduous perennial
    • purple-blue flowers from July to September
    • colourful, disc-shaped flowers contrast with grey-green foliage
    • suitable for single planting and for planting in groups of 3-5 plants
    • hardy to -34 degrees
  • Stuffed Scabious ‘Blue Diamonds’
    • particularly free-flowering variety
    • bright blue, double flowers from spring until well into autumn
    • Growth height of about 20 cm relatively low
    • it is well suited for rock gardens and flower boxes

diseases and pests

Scabioses are relatively insensitive to diseases and pests. The only thing that could really pose a threat to them is waterlogging. This leads to the roots rotting and, in the worst case, the plant dying completely. Plants that appear to be wilting may be affected by rot.

If there is any suspicion, the plant should be carefully dug up and if it is rot and it is still in its early stages, radically cut back the roots, refresh the soil at the planting site if necessary and replant the scabious. If the soil there is generally too moist, you can possibly bring drainage into the planting hole or, if possible, look for a more suitable location. If the rot is already too far advanced, the plant can usually no longer be saved.

Scabioses are annual, but mostly perennial, very decorative plants that are very suitable for planting in the garden, for example in small tuffs of 3-5 plants, but also for cultivation in planters or balcony boxes. If you choose the right location, they are usually very easy to care for and there is no need to fear diseases or pest infestation. The only thing you should definitely avoid is waterlogging. And with the right cut, you can enjoy a colorful abundance of flowers from spring to autumn.

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