Corn cockle used to be considered a weed, but today it is a popular summer flower. We show you how to grow and care for the corn cockle properly.
The corn cockle belongs to the clove family and originally comes from the Mediterranean region. Through agriculture, however, it was able to spread rapidly throughout Europe. In the past, it grew in masses on the edges of grain fields as a companion plant. However, since the plant is not only a native wildflower, but also a poisonous plant, there was always a danger that the crop would be poisoned due to its proximity to the field.
In modern agriculture, this danger has now been banished. However, the corn cockle is now on the red list in Europe and is only rarely found in the wild. By planting corn cockle in your garden, you can help preserve this endangered species.
Sowing corn cockle: How to do it right
Today, you can buy corn cockle in garden stores, mainly as seed and as part of wildflower mixtures. When buying, always make sure that you prefer organic seeds. The annual field wild herb forms cupped petals from June to August, which are colored white, pink or reddish-purple, depending on the species. For proper sowing of corn cocklebur, you should follow the tips below:
- The right time: the seeds of corn cockle are cold germinators. This means that they only begin to germinate at cooler temperatures. Therefore, you should plant the seeds already in the fall, for example in September. Alternatively, you can sow the corn cockle in February or March.
- The right location: For the corn cockle to thrive, it needs a lot of sun. A full-sun spot in your garden is therefore just right for the wild plant. Since the corn cockle has very thin and long shoots and stems, you should make sure that it is protected from the wind as much as possible.
- The right soil: The corn cockle does not have too high demands on the soil. Loose and nutrient-rich soil with a slightly higher sand content is ideal for it. It is important that the soil is well-drained and may also contain a drainage layer through which water can drain away easily.
- Use and planting neighbors: You can combine Kornraden in the perennial bed with other ornamental grasses such as cranesbill, mallow or borage. As a wild plant, it also fits well in cottage gardens.
Correct sowing of corn cockle: You do not need to grow the seeds of corn cockle in advance. Instead, you can sow them directly outdoors in the fall or spring.
- First, find a suitable location for the corn cockle where no other plants are growing.
- Then you can dig up the soil at the site once and weed the weeds growing there.
- Now dig seed furrows about one centimeter deep in the soil, in which you will later scatter the seeds.
- Sow the seeds as densely as possible and over a large area. This way you will quickly get a dense flower meadow.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of loose soil or fine sand.
- The germination period of the corn cockle is about two to three weeks. Always keep the seeds slightly moist during this time.
- Thin the seedlings to a spacing of about 20 to 30 inches after the germination period.
- Because corn cocklebur is an annual plant, you will need to reseed it every year. However, sometimes the wildflower will self-seed.
Tip: Do not leave the seeds of the corn cockle too long, but sow them as soon as possible. The seeds can germinate for only a few months.
The right care for the corn cockle
Corn cockle is a very low-maintenance plant. If you have chosen a suitable location for it, it will usually thrive all by itself. With a few tips, you can also ensure that you have something from the attractive wildflower for as long as possible:
- Watering: As a rule, you do not need to water the corn cockle additionally. Only during long dry periods should you water the wild plant regularly with some rainwater collected from the barrel. However, you should avoid waterlogging at all costs.
- Fertilize: As a wild plant, the corn cockle does not need any additional fertilizer. A too high nutrient content in the soil can even cause the plant to produce fewer flowers.
- Pruning: To prolong the flowering period, you can regularly cut off dead and withered shoots of the corn cockle. The seed pods can be left to mature, as the corn cockle will reseed itself year after year. Alternatively, you can remove the ripe capsule fruits and resow the seeds inside in the fall. In the fall, the adult plants eventually die. You can simply remove the remains and throw them on the compost.
- Diseases and pests: The corn cockle is very robust and is almost never affected by diseases or pests.
Corn cockle in the garden: beautiful, but poisonous
Corn cockle is not only pretty to look at and easy to care for, it is also one of the bee-friendly plants. Bees and numerous other insects can easily reach the nectar in the wide-open flowers.
However, the wildflower has one disadvantage: the seeds of the corn cockle in particular are highly poisonous. Just three to five seeds of the wild plant can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans and pets. Therefore, always plant the corn cockle out of reach of children and also keep the collected seeds safe. If you have dogs or cats, it is better to avoid growing corn cockle if in doubt.