Agrostemma

Agrostemma flowers

An attractive but robust flowering annual that tolerates most soil conditions, including poor soils. A popular choice for wildflower and cottage gardens. The common corn-cockle was once a typical weed found in cornfields, hence its common name.

Family: Caryophyllaceae (carnation family)
Botanical Name: Agrostemma
Common Names: Corn-cockle, corn pink, gith

Foliage: Deciduous, long narrow, grey/green leaves.

Flowers: Single, open trumpet-shaped flowers, on tall stems. Usually in shades of magenta, purple or lilac-pink but a white form 'Alba' is also available.

Flowering Period: Summer (usually June - August).

Soil: Well-drained, poor soil (sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Sun or a partial shade. Best grown in open west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Upright.

Type: Hardy Annual.

Origin: Europe.

Toxicity: All parts are toxic if ingested. 

Hardiness: Hardy throughout the UK (dies back after flowering at the end of the season).

Planting and Growing Agrostemma

Easily grown from seed. Sow in any ordinary garden soil, in an open sunny position.

Once a common site in UK cornfields, it is now rarely seen growing in the wild. Attractive to bees and other pollinating insects.

Suitable for meadows, cottage gardens and wild flower gardens. The corn-cockle is seen at its best when grown en masse amonst other annuals and biennials.

The long stemmed blooms make excellent long lasting cut flowers.

Taking Care of Agrostemma

Support lax growth with twiggy stems.

Pruning

Dead-head if you wish to prevent self-sown seedlings.

Pests and Diseases

Generally disease free. Can be affected by aphids and froghoppers.

Propagating Agrostemma

Best sown in the open where they are to flower. They dislike root disturbance so do not transplant well.

Sow seed outdoors in prepared seed-bed in spring (March, April or May). Keep the soil free of weeds. Gradually thin seedlings to 9in (22cm) apart. Alternatively, sow in September-October for early flowers the next year.

The corn-cockle will rapidly self seed if conditions are good.

Popular Varieties of Agrostemma

The best known form is A. githago.

Agrostemma githago is an upright species with narrow grey-green leaves and open trumpet-shaped magenta-purple flowers. Height from 2-3ft (60-90cm). For sale at Crocus. Attractive forms include:

  • 'Alba' with lovely large white flowers.
  • 'Cerise' is a striking cherry-red form.
  • 'Milas' bears delicate pink flowers deepening in colour towards the edge.