Many years ago wildflower expert Carl Hunter gave me some seeds from a flower that he said I would be ecstatic over. Carl told me it was a little known wildflower that should be in the nursery trade because it is so easy to grow with such fantastic flowers. Well, I planted the seed in the spring and by late summer the plants grew to 5 feet tall and bloomed profusely. Carl was right, they are truly magnificent. Many who see them in my garden think they are some type of thistle, but the basket flower is actually a close cousin to bachelor buttons or cornflower. The lavender blooms can measure 4 inches across and are made up of hundreds of delicate thin petals. The name basket flower doesn’t make much sense until you examine the underside of the flower. All of those petals are skillfully arranged in a basket-like structure.
Basket flowers are annuals in colder areas of the country, but they will reseed themselves freely. In warmer climes they will behave like perennials and the same plant will produce blooms again the next year. They will grow in just about any soil type. In fact, mine grow in a heavy clay soil. Be sure they get consistent moisture. When the plants get too tall, just cut them back to about half their size and they will generate new growth as well as many more blooms.