Cornflowers are beautiful blue wildflowers that grow in the warm summer months when the sun is plentiful. They are an idyllic plant for bees, birds, and butterflies because they are rich in pollen and nectar, and provide easily accessible seeds during the fall.
These flowers are perfect for bee-friendly gardens or for placing in teas for the many medicinal purposes they are believed to have.
If you are interested in growing Cornflowers to help rescue the dwindling bee populations, continue reading this article. It is full of information, instructions, and Cornflower facts.
What is Cornflower?
Although it has become popular in other areas worldwide, such as North America and Canada, it is endangered in its native home due to pesticides, pollution, and other agricultural impacts.
The Cornflower thrives the best in full sunlight and doesn’t do very well in shaded or even partially shaded areas and requires porous, nutrient-rich soil.
When Does Cornflower Bloom
You will notice cornflowers mixed in with warm weather seasonal crops, in agricultural areas. Cornflowers bloom in the summer from June until August. In full-bloom, these plants can get up to 2 ½ feet tall with a diameter of about one foot around.
They showcase a beautiful dark blue flower on top of a light green stem. Adding a great amount of colour to every field they grow in.
How to Collect Cornflower Seeds
Cornflower seeds will typically ripen in the fall months between August and October. It is always best to collect these seeds early in the season almost as soon as they become ripe. Doing this will ensure you do not wait too long and the seeds dry up and get taken away by the breeze or other outside factors.
To collect cornflower seeds, you will want to pull them directly out of the dried-up flower head. These seeds are very small and can be challenging to handle at times but can easily be stored in jars or even envelopes.
Many people will pick these seeds to re-sow them in different areas in other areas.
How Tall Do Cornflowers Grow?
The size of cornflowers will depend on the location and environment they have to live in. These plants, much like sunflowers, grow very strong stalks or stems, making them ideal for growing tall and holding up heavier flowers and leaves.
The average size of a cornflower plant is around 36-inches but can get a little taller during the summer and will be much shorter in the spring as they are beginning to grow for the season.
Do Cornflowers Come Back Every Year?
Cornflowers are a great investment to make for anyone who is interested in using them for their health and wellness benefits because they are perennials that keep coming back year after year.
The self-seeding plants are beneficial to wildlife because it keeps nourishing animals and insects every summer and fall.
Health benefits provided by cornflowers
Dried cornflower leaves are used by people worldwide because of the many health benefits it is known to possess. Ingredients in this flower include biotin, folate, vitamin C, calcium, protocyanin, and flavones.
All through the dried leaves on the cornflower plant look lovely in a fresh garden salad, people prefer brewing this flower in their teas.
Grow Cornflowers For Bees and Wildlife
Cornflowers are great for wildlife and are one of the top supporting bee plants grown in nature, thanks to the pollen and nectar it supplies.
These wildflowers are also beneficial to birds once their seeds have ripened and start to loosen up, creating a delicious food source.
Sadly, the already at-risk bee population is struggling to find many Cornflowers to thrive off of because these plants are endangered themselves.
Do Cornflowers Have Pollen?
Yes, cornflowers have enough pollen to keep a bee interested, although it isn’t a whole lot. These plants offer about half of a microgram per flower head.
Bees do require pollen to survive as it is full of nutrients and proteins and is usually used as larva food but also transported from one flower to the next, pollinating throughout nature as it moves along.
Does Cornflower Have Nectar?
Cornflowers are one of the best nectar suppliers offered in the wild and provide bees with plenty of nectar to be consumed for their carbohydrates given them plenty of energy. The bumblebee keeps nectar stored in pods for the queen bee, whereas honeybees utilize this sugary treat to turn into honey.
Cornflowers are actually one of the very few plants that have extrafloral nectaries. These are small areas that offer droplets of nectar that are not the plant itself. This seems to be a great stop-off for honeybees, in particular, seeing that 80% of bees visiting these flowers are honey bees.
Although the tiny drops do not provide nearly the same amount of nectar as the flower itself, it can be a sweet treat rewarded to the bee for a hard day’s work.
When to Sow Cornflower Seeds
The best time to sow cornflower seed is in early spring producing full blooming flowers in the summertime.
Many people will use the seeds they harvested in the year before to re-grow their new crop or to even pack up and use to increase the wild population through bee bombs and wildflower packs.
A bee bomb is a pod of seeds held together in a hunk of clay. When placed into the wild, the seeds will start to loosen, fall into the soil, and germinate, and wild plants grow. These wild plants are like little bee hotels, giving them options to visit one plant to the next.
How to Grow Cornflower
Because Cornflowers are used to thriving in the wild, they are very hardy and durable but do require some simple basic environmental attributes to thrive.
Never plant your seeds until the last frost of the year. If you start too early, it is likely they will not survive. When it is time, dig a row in the soil about 6-inches down loosen up the dirt so air can flow through and moisture can flow out.
Next, place your seed into the soil about one inch down, keeping the seeds about 10-12 inches apart, and pack the soil on top gently, not compacting the soil too tight.
Water your seeds often, and they should start to grow in about 8-10 days.
Why Are My Cornflowers so small?
If you notice your cornflowers are small and their steams are thin and weak, it is probably due to overcrowding.
Is it Safe to Consume Cornflowers?
Yes, Cornflowers have a clove taste and are often steeped in teas, frozen in ice for drinks, added to cheese cubes, etc.
Are Cornflowers Drought Hardy?
Yes, Cornflowers do very well in drought conditions after they have already started to grow and have taken root.
How Fast do Cornflowers Grow?
As long as the conditions are right, cornflowers will start to grow from seeds within ten days with plenty of sun and water.
Are Cornflowers Good for Bees?
Cornflowers are one of the best wildflowers available to bees because of their high nectar and adequate pollen supply. They provide a safe place for them to land and provide a little shade from the hot sun.
Where to Buy Cornflower Seeds
If you are interested in growing your own Cornflower seeds or want to donate some to friends, family, or the planet, you can find them online here or in local garden shops.
However, before you purchase your Cornflower seeds, it is essential that you know what you are looking for and that you are getting them from reliable and reputable sources.
Centaurea cyanus – This magnet for butterflies and bees has thistle-like bright blue flower heads Centaurea cyanus is perfect for a sunny wildflower meadow.
Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’ – The Black Ball variety of Centaurea cyanus has rich shades of blue, and double flowers that are extremely attractive to bees.
Summing Things Up
Whether you are growing your Cornflowers for added colours to your garden or to help the endangered bee communities, these are the perfect plant for anyone to grow. They are hardy vegetation that is durable and thrive well in their natural habitat as well as any maintained space.
Growing these plants for the bees in the UK is not only going to protect the insects themselves but nature as a whole because of the benefits bees bring to the environment.