Tracey Cole

Tracey Cole

Superb Scabiosa!

Despite its rather unattractive name, the Scabiosa, (or Pincushion flower) is an invaluable plant in the flowers border.

The name originates from use as a natural remedy to treat scabies many years ago.

However, it’s now recognised as a very attractive plant for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, the blooms having copious amounts of nectar.

Varieties of Scabiosa include annuals, biennials and perennials. Annuals are generally sown after any last frost and perennials can be sown early Spring or Autumn. Scabiosa plants will also happily self-seed in the garden! They like a sunny, well-drained spot, and seeds will germinate in around 2 to 3 weeks. Sown in clumps they make excellent ground cover.

The Scabiosa africana is an indigenous, perennial variety, most often seen in South African gardens. It has large mauve flowers with leaves made up of light green velvety foliage and will grow to approximately 1m tall. Flowering from early Spring until late Summer when it can be cut back to encourage new growth.


Scabiosa incisa is a vigorous, spectacular perennial variety with large deep pink to mauve and white blooms, which flower on long stems from September to November. Scabiosa ‘white carpet’ has a smaller white flower forming a gorgeous cloud of white over lush, green foliage.

The Scabiosa columbaria is a perennial, but not indigenous. However, this variety has been developed to thrive in South African gardens, and is very popular. It is a hardy, low-growing plant with fabulous lavender blue flowers ( butterfly blue), or pink blooms (pink mist), only growing to 30 to 40cm tall.

A liquid feed during the flowering season will help keep this plant healthy.

The low maintenance Scabiosa is a winner, bringing wildlife and colour to your garden. No wonder it’s called ‘The butterfly plant’!

More advice and articles :

We at village gardens have a knowledge of all of your local edible plants here in South Africa. We can happily plant up your garden with edibles of all varieties from Mediterranean herbs and local indigenous edibles. We are surrounded by such stunning hardy indigenous plants, let’s get back to nature and have our own garden of local goodness.

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