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The Scabiosa atropurpurea is a perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe and Asia. The common name with which it is called is a widow.
It constitutes a dense basal rosette of lanceolate leaves, covered by a thin and light down, of a bright green color, inside the rosette smaller leaves are developed, finely divided; from late spring to the first colds from the rosette grow thin stems, 20-25 cm long, which bear single flowers, with a silver-gray center and purple or lilac corolla. This small perennial is much cultivated in the flowerbeds and in the rocky gardens for the long and abundant flowering; there are numerous hybrids with colorful flowers ranging from dark purple to white. S. africana is slightly less rustic and has much higher leaves and flowers, reaching 40-45 cm.
For an optimal and prolonged flowering of Scabiosa atropurpurea, it is good to plant the plants of this genus in full sun; the widow's plant develops quite well even in partially shady places, in places where they can receive a few hours of direct light a day, but fears a complete shadow, a condition in which the flowering will be very scarce or absent. Generally it does not fear the cold because it has lively leaves, which disappear during the winter, to reappear more luxuriantly in the spring.
Usually the plants of Scabiosa atropurpurea do not require large amounts of water, but in the warm months and in case of prolonged drought it is good to water the specimens of widow at least every 2-3 days, checking that the water does not go to form annoying stagnation, which could cause health problems of this variety. In winter it goes into vegetative rest and does not need watering. In mild weather these plants are satisfied with the rains.
If planted in rich soil it does not need fertilizing, otherwise it provides granular fertilizer for flowering plants at the beginning of spring so as to provide all the necessary nutrients.
The widow's plants need loose soils, rich in organic matter and well drained; before planting the seedlings or sowing it is good to enrich the soil with organic fertilizer or compost soil.
The reproduction of this genus of plant usually takes place by seed, sowing in February in a cold greenhouse and keeping in a sheltered place until the outside temperatures are pleasant and there is no danger of night frosts.
Starting from April it is possible to sow directly at the house; if desired it is possible to sow even in late summer, to have the first flowering the following spring. It is also possible to divide the particularly vigorous tufts by placing the portions directly in a single container.
Widow - Scabiosa atropurpurea: Pests and diseases
The plants grown in poorly sunny and poorly ventilated places can be affected by the cochineal or aphids, but generally the Scabiosa atropurpurea seedlings are not affected by the parasites being rather rustic and resistant.