How to Grow Cupid’s Dart — Catananche

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Cupid’s dart, Catananche caerulea, is an old-fashioned summer-blooming perennial. Solitary lilac-blue or white ray flowers are borne atop wiry stems.

Catananche produces mounds of grayish-green, lance-shaped leaves. The flower clusters have strap-shaped ray florets and usually come in lavender blue but sometimes white or yellow as well.

Catananche is a good choice for the front or middle of a flower border. Catananche flowers can be dried for winter decoration.

Get to know Catananche – Cupid’s Dart

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 3 to 8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
  • Height and width: 12 to 24 inches (30-61cm) tall and wide; grows in mounds or tufts
  • Foliage: Narrow gray-green leaves, 8 to 12 inches long mostly at the base of a leafless stem; leafless 24-inch (61cm) stems
  • Flowers: Lavender blue or white flowerheads to 2 inches across similar to cornflowers with straw-like, shining bracts; flowers also in white and yellow.
  • Flower colors: Blue, white
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Flower borders, cutting, dried flowers
  • Common name: Cupid’s dart
  • Botanical name: Catananche
  • Family name: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Mediterranean

Where to plant Catananche – Cupid’s Dart

  • Grow Catananche in full sun or very light shade.
  • Catananche grows best in humus-rich, well-drained soil.

Catananche uses and companions

  • Use Catananche in a sunny border.
  • Catananche flowers are good for cutting and drying.
  • Good garden companions for Catananche include Anthemis, Armeria, Lychnis coronaria, Oenothera, Sysyrinchium striatum.

When to plant Catananche – Cupid’s Dart

  • Set container-grown plants in the garden in spring after the last frost.
  • Sow seed indoors in late winter for bloom the first year.
  • Sow seed outdoors where plants are to grow in mid-spring.

Planting and spacing Catananche – Cupid’s Dart

  • Space Catananche 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) apart.

How to water and feed Catananche – Cupid’s Dart

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for best blooms.
  • Fertilize Catananche with an all-purpose fertilizer in spring.
Cupid’s dart, Catananche caerulea

Catananche care

  • Remove faded flowers to prolong bloom time.
  • Divide clumps every two years in early spring to keep plants vigorous.

Catananche pests and diseases

  • Catananche is usually pest and disease free.

Catananche propagation

  • Catananche seeds germinate in about 21 days at 68°F (20°C).
  • Propagate Catananche by division.
  • Propagate by root cuttings in winter.

Catananche varieties to grow

  • Catananche caerulea, cupid’s dart: Grows 18 to 24 inches (45-61cm) tall; grassy 12-inch leaves; bears solitary 1- to 2-inch wide lilac-blue flowers atop wiry stems in midsummer; cultivars include ‘Alba’ which has white flowers and ‘Major’ which has deep lavender-blue flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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