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Chez Guevara
09-23-2007, 01:36 PM
I cast some cornflower seed (Centaurea cyanus) in early August and I am now the proud owner of 20 young plants, each in a small pot.

The normal procedure is to transplant them to a garden border in October, where they will overwinter then grow and flower in June next year. However, and to my deep dismay, I can now see flower buds forming on several of these plants. The cornflower functions as an annual in Northern Europe. I therefore assume that if it flowers before winter it will die. I will then be deprived next spring of, to quote John Clare

the blue cornbottles crowding their splendid colours in large sheets over the land and troubling the cornfields with destroying beauty.

but substitute '20 sq. feet of garden' for 'cornfields'.

I could sow more seed in spring for a summer flowering and I will certainly delay any future autumn sowings until autumn. That said, and to look at the current situation, if I stop these plants from flowering now, will they live through the winter and trouble my garden with destroying beauty next June?

Thank you.

levdrakon
09-23-2007, 02:11 PM
I don't have a huge amount of experience with cornflowers/Bachelor's button's, but I'd say stopping them from flowering won't make much of a difference whether they come back from the roots in the spring or not. Let them flower, go to seed and sprinkle the seeds in situ, or save the seeds for spring.

In a mild climate, late-sown "annuals" quite often rest and come back the next year. But if by Northern Europe you mean hard freezes, I really can't say.

Chez Guevara
09-23-2007, 02:58 PM
I've changed my location to something more relevant.

From here (http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1996/4-26-1996/annie.html):

The general definition of an annual is a plant that germinates from seed, flowers, and sets seed, and dies in one season....Like the general definition, a hardy annual is a plant that completes its lifecycle in one year. Hardy annuals do not need to be raised indoors. They can easily be sown in situ (directly into their garden location). Hardy annuals can tolerate light frost without injury. Some familiar hardy annuals include calendula, cornflower, annual larkspur, and nigella.In my experience autumn sown cornflowers will survive most English winters as young specimens.

I note Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annual_plant) advises that:

Botanically, an annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers and dies in one year. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed.If I pinch out the flower stems the plants will clearly fail to set seed. They should live through the winter to flower next spring because their life-cycles haven't run to completion.

Confirmation would be useful since I don't wish to place the future of my garden in the hands of Wikipedia alone.