Bachelor's Button

Centaurea cyanus

Bachelor's Button in the garden

Bachelor's Button, also known as Cornflower, is native to Europe and Western Asia and carries much symbolism throughout the continents. The plant has historically been used medicinally for gastrointestinal relief as an anti-inflammatory. In addition, the petals are edible and are used decoratively in food or infused as a tea, and the dye from the plant can be used as a natural food colorant. The Egyptian King Tutankhamen was buried with a wreath of Bachelor's Button around his head, symbolizing opulence. In European folklore, the flower was worn on the lapel of those seeking love, with the flower's lightfastness symbolizing their romantic fortune.

Sow seeds directly after last frost, or sow indoors 3 to 4 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep, and thin out after germination to one plant every 3 to 9 inches. Bachelor's Button prefers full sun but can tolerate partial sun. The seedlings require frequent watering, but the mature plant is drought resistant and requires less water. To ensure healthy Bachelor's Buttons, avoid watering the plants from overhead and ensure that they don’t sit in areas that develop standing water. Excessive water at the root zone can cause root rot, prohibiting the flowers from being ready to harvest.

Bachelors Buttons will be ready to harvest after the flower has first opened up. To harvest, pluck the flower directly from the tip of the stalk, or use clippers to cut directly at the base of the flower.

Fabric should be mordanted before dyeing with Bachelor's Button.

The fresh or dried plants work well with bundle dyeing as well.

Dye concentrate recipe:

6 grams dried bachelor's button

24 ounces water

Simmer mordanted fabric in dyestuff for 1 hour at 140° Fahrenheit.

Let fabric soak in dye bath for 24 hours at room temperature, then strain and rinse.