VIU Milner Gardens and Woodland

Plant Pick: Crimson Scabious

Latin name:  Knautia macedonica

Common name(s):  Knautia or crimson scabious

Knautia is an unusual plant that will have your friends asking its name. Used in a wild garden or perennial border the striking red-purple of the flowers catches the eye. It performs well in our “Mediterranean climate,” will tolerate some drought, attracts pollinators and is deer resistant.

As its name implies, Knautia macedonica is native to central Europe specifically the Balkan Peninsula. The species is one of several in the Caprifoliaceae family along with the better-known blue scabious to which it is related. This is an easy perennial to grow and does best in poor soil which keeps it from becoming leggy. It has a long period of bloom which can be extended by deadheading. Grown in masses in a sunny open location in combination with grasses, daisies, yarrow, bee balm, phlox and bell flowers it is a excellent plant for an informal or cottage garden. Although short lived it will self-seed. Mostly pest free it is known to attract pollinating insects. This is an excellent choice for the middle of a border.       

Milner Gardens Knautia Macedonica

Attribute Description

Low branching perennial that sometimes needs staking


Basal lyre shaped leaves which become smaller and compound moving up the stems 


Plant can reach 75 cm and form clumps about 60 cm

Hardiness Zone:

5 - 9


Full sun

Flower colour:

Deep red-purple

Leaf colour:


Flower time:

Early summer to fall if deadheaded

Preferred soiland watering:

Likes average moisture, neutral to slightly alkaline soil that is    well-drained. Does not like overhead watering

Pests and diseases



Is said to perform best in slightly infertile soil. Is a good attractant for butterflies and can be used as a cut flower. Propagated by seed or cuttings. To prevent self-seeding, a light mulch can be applied.