Giant Scabious

blackcapblackcap Posts: 17

1. Quite early last spring my giant scabious starting growing a large number of big green leaves (loved by caterpillars). Flowers did not start to grow until summer which is normal I guess and grew to a lovely height.  My question is can you safely give these an early 'chelsea chop' ?  (not stopping the height just reducing the foliage a little, I hope). Unless all this foliage is quite normal.    2. After flowering how far back to you cut? Do you cut back to ground level or to the first leaf?      3. Do you leave the plant alone through winter as a lot of its leaves now I assume are dying off as they are going a funny colour and look awful?  I've only been gardening a few years and have much to learn.  If someone can give me a little guidance on these plants I would appreciate it.  Thank you. 



  • Hi there - I'm not an expert with regard to scabious but do have a few in the garden. All are still in flower at the moment having started flowering a couple of months ago - I also have some grown from seed this spring which should start to flower next year.

    I "deadhead" by removing spent flowers back to the base of the flower stem which is usually to the next shoot preparing to flower. I am going to leave some to self-seed for next year.

    I don't intend to do anything with the leaves as the small scabious which I planted last summer did not loose its leaves over winter nor did the larger seedlings I grew during spring 2011.

    I hope that this helps and am sure that others will have lots of suggestions/tips in due course.

    Happy gardening image


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,675

    The giant scabious finishes flowering earlier than the field scabious and other smaller varieties.  Nor does mine seem to replenish itself if I dead head as each flower goes over.    Unless you want new plants from seed, cut off the flower spikes as soon as they've finished.  Take them down as low as you like so the cut is hidden in the foliage.

    Then just leave them be.  The foliage will die down as autumn gets under way and the plant will go dormant for the winter.  Once it's all gone brown, you can cut it all off and compost it.   

    The Vendée, France
  • Hi Obelixx, you are right - the giant scabious did finish flowering earlier than my small scabious which are still flowering. Sadly I never got a second flowering from my giant ones.  I had only been cutting down to the first leaf of each segment,  In fact, on a couple of them I did get the start of a new 'little ball' but they turned very brown and died off.  I don't know if they had received more sun if those new flower shoots would have grown into a flower.  In their current positiion they get the morning sun only??  Thanks for autumn/winter advice.                                                                                                   My thanks also to 'Fotofit' for your helpful reply.


  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,832

    I cut ours down to the soil level as soon as they have finshed flowering. Otherwise they just flop all over everything and anyway I prefer them to be a lot less vigorous.

    Have you ever tried to dig a clump out? The roots are wrapped round a tree trunk in New Zealand.

  • You are quite right Berghill, the leaves do flop over everything.   I assume then you don't try to encourage a second flush of flowers?  I have considered taking a clump out but assumed I couldn't do it until they were dormant - which must be soon (if not now). I loved having the 'group' when they were in full bloom and grew really tall this year but considerablly less attractive after flowering so I might move a few front ones to the back to continue the line of them at the back of the border.   I may also try cutting them down to the ground.  Thank you Berghill. 

  • JaynieJaynie Posts: 2

    My scabious flowered all through last winter as it was mild but then in late July appeared to keal over and die despite dead heading.  I've cut it back to about a few inches from the soil and hope it is now just dormant until next year.  Is there anything else I have done? or still can do ... 

    Nb when I dead headed I just removed the heads and left unslightly stalks - I will take them off to the next shoot next time - many thanks for above tip fotofit.

  • AlieshAliesh Posts: 182

    I have the gaint one for the first time this year my late father in law planted them.

    I was also wondering if they should be cut down. I thought perhaps the birds may eat the seeds, does anyone know if they do? ITs a great plant if you have the space!

  • I planted mine in early 2013 and got 4 flower heads. I cut them bank after sufficient some for seeds to drop. Last year-2014 there was a large healthy plants, full of leaves but no flowers! It then died down over winter and has started to grow again hopefully some more flowers this year! Will up date progress.

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