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Centaurea macrocephala

Family: Asteraceae

Common names: HARDHEADS, KNAPWEED, STAR THISTLE

Native to: Caucasus Mountains

Plant

Type: perennial

Forms: clumping, erect

Max height: 3.3 feet

Max width: 2 feet

Flower

yellow

Leaf

green

Horticulture

Attracts wildlife: adult butterfly, specific butterfly species

Exposure: sun

Landscape use: container

Propagates by: seed

flowers in summer

Soil type: wide range

USDA Zones: zone 3 -40 f, zone 4 -30 f, zone 5 to -20 f, zone 6 to -10 f, zone 7 to 0 f, zone 8 to +10 f, zone 9 to +20 f

Temp. range: -40 to +30 °F

Water: moderate

  • Centaurea macrocephala

Centaurea, also called HARDHEADS, KNAPWEED, or STAR THISTLE, is a member of the Aster family, Compositae. There are 924 species in this genus of which six or more are cultivated. Of those Centaurea dealbata, macrocephala, and montana are cultivated perennials. They grow 3-3 ½ feet tall in Zones 3-9, prefer moderate watering, and flower in summer.

The yellow-flowering Centaurea macrocephala is a cultivated perennial that can be grown from seed, grows in full sun, and can be grown in containers.

As a member of the Compositae family it will attract a long list of butterflies to feed. In particular, the following butterflies feed on Centaurea blossoms. Perhaps other gardeners agree that there is nothing common about the sight of either Junonia coenia or Pyrgus comunis.
Hylephila phyleus, Fiery Skipper
Junonia coenia, Common Buckeye
Pyrgus communis, Common Checkered-Skipper

Junonia coenia
Container plants that attract adult butterflies - perennial

This plant is one of 186 perennials suitable to grow in a container that will attract adult butterflies. 38 of these plants attract birds and 67 attract specific butterfly species. They can be found in every height range – from tiny to large – from less than a foot high to over 10 feet tall. 19 of these plants are drought tolerant, more than 80 are available for dry or moderate watering conditions. 29 are deciduous, while 71 are evergreen. Some can grow in Zone 2, while the others grow in Zones 3-11. 178 perennial plants that attract butterflies and can be grown in containers in Zone 9. 77 can be used as cut flowers. They come in any one of the available flower colors.

We have found that, when given a choice, butterflies and bees frequent named species more often than cultivars. You may want to keep this in mind when you select plants for your garden if your goal is to attract and support these insects.

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