Growing Safflower (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most popular indoor houseplants. It grows well in almost any climate. There are many varieties of sable, but the common ones include: Lavender, Rose Red, Lavender Blue, and Goldenrod. They all have similar characteristics.
The leaves of sables are usually dark green with purple veins. These veins run through the whole leaf, not just along the edges or at the top of each side. Leaves are opposite to those of other houseplants. A few species produce flowers, but they do so infrequently and only when conditions are right for them to do so.
Most species flower once in their lifetime and then die out naturally without any help from humans.
Safflower is a member of the mint family. It is native to Asia and Africa. It was introduced into Europe in the Middle Ages, probably by sailors bringing it back from India. Its popularity grew after its introduction because it is easy to grow and produces large amounts of flowers.
Some people even use sables as wallpaper!
Safflower’s name comes from the Latin word “salvia” which means sage. This refers to its long-stemmed flowers which resemble those of the common garden sage.
Safflowers are easy to grow from seed. Most people prefer to buy small starter plants at a local nursery or garden center or through mail order catalogs. Start them in peat pots and keep them in areas with bright light but not direct sunlight. The soil should be kept moist but not wet.
Safflowers need a steady supply of moisture in order to grow properly. After the plants are a few inches high and have developed their first set of leaves, they can be transplanted into larger containers or directly outdoors. The soil for sables should contain some sand and compost. Fertilize them with a weak solution of water-soluble balanced fertilizer twice a month.
Safflowers like cool temperatures and plenty of humidity. They cannot tolerate extreme heat or drafts. If outdoors, they should be planted in shaded areas. They grow best when the temperature is between 55-77 degrees F.
(12-25 C.). They can also grow indoors as long as they are given enough light and humidity. Safflowers do not like to be moved so they should either be direct seeded or purchased as plants.
Safflowers can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 5-9. They can be grown as annuals in all zones or perennials in Zones 5-9.
Since sables grow rather slowly, they are easy to transplant and root easily. They also do not mind being moved.
Safflowers can be propagated by dividing the plants either in the spring or the fall. Use a sharp knife or garden scissors and cut through the root ball and lift the plant out of the ground. Separate the divisions and plant them in new areas.
Sources & references used in this article:
Centers of plant diversity and conservation of crop germ plasm: Safflower by PF Knowles – Economic Botany, 1969 – JSTOR
Safflower, Carthamus tinctorius L. by L Dajue, HH Mündel – 1996 – books.google.com
Resurgence of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) utilization: A global view by Z Ekin – Journal of Agronomy, 2005 – researchgate.net
Safflower: Carthamus tinctorius L. by D Li, HH Mündel – 1996 – cabdirect.org
Evaluation of safflower germplasm for ornamental use by VL Bradley, RL Guenthner, RC Johnson… – Perspectives on new …, 1999 – hort.purdue.edu
Safflower by JR Smith – 1996 – books.google.com
Safflower by PF Knowles – Advances in agronomy, 1959 – Elsevier
Evaluation of phenotypic variation in a worldwide germplasm collection of safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) grown under organic farming conditions in Germany by E Elfadl, C Reinbrecht, W Claupein – Genetic resources and crop evolution, 2010 – Springer
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) by V Singh, N Nimbkar – Chapter, 2006 – books.google.com