JUNE IS PERENNIAL GARDENING MONTH so why not choose a perennial you have never grown before and give it a try in your garden. Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst Dream’ may be just the plant for you. Other common names are perennial cornflower, mountain cornflower, or bachelor’s button.
IT HAS DAISY-LIKE FLOWERS with a twist. The petals are long and thin, slightly overlapping, and split at the end, giving the flower a fluffy or star-burst appearance. The flowers measure 2 or so inches in diameter and they cover the plant when in bloom. It flowers in early summer for several weeks, and is considered to have a long bloom period compared to many perennials. ‘Amethyst Dream’ has purple flowers, shown above, while most mountain bluets are blue, and there is one called ‘Amethyst in Snow’ with a purple center and white petals that is also very pretty. This perennial flower makes for a good and interesting cut flower, and works well as a natural addition to almost any perennial assortment.
THE PLANTS ARE EASY TO GROW, will spread slightly, and prefer full sun, but are tolerant of some shade. Moist and well-drained soils are preferred, and the plant suffers when planted in extremely dry soils. If it becomes floppy late in the season, put a wire cage around it.
THE LEAVES ARE LONG AND STRAP-LIKE and your average grassy to bluish-green. Plants can grow 16 to 20 inches tall with flowers and spread 20 to 24 inches easily. It can be planted singly toward the front of a perennial bed or in a group, and is very attractive when planted near a rock wall or ledge. The blue and purple flowered varieties are perfect for a cheerful but calming effect in the garden. The foliage and flowers are known to be deer-resistant.
ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus
Q We are growing sweet corn for the first time. I am concerned about pests, especially earworms. We planted six 40-foot rows of the Peaches & Cream variety. What is the best way to have a successful crop without those nasty worms?
A Plants are more susceptible to insect and disease problems when they are stressed from inadequate growing conditions. Sweet corn should be planted in a space where it will receive all-day sun. A minimum of six hours of direct light is ideal. Good air circulation, consistent moisture, and a nutrient-rich, well-drained soil are just as important. Each plant should be spaced at least a foot apart to allow for good air movement. Weeding and keeping the space free of fallen plant debris is essential for reducing insect problems. Peaches & Cream is a good home garden variety of sweet corn. This bicolor hybrid is a reliable early producer. Corn earworms are a common problem but are not usually as frequently found on early plantings as they are with later plantings. Avoid using any harmful chemicals on your crop and if you notice something not right, take a sample to your County Cooperative Extension Service for analysis. For more information on growing corn and other vegetables in Kentucky, go online to www.ca.uky.edu and search for “sweet corn. “