Giant Scabious Cephalaria gigantea

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
giant scabious


The Giant Scabious is a perennial plant notable for its impressive presence in a garden setting. Its foliage consists of a rosette of low growing leaves that are softly hairy, with a grayish-green hue. As the growing season progresses, the plant sends up flower stems topped with rounded heads of pale lavender to cream-colored blooms. The delicate pin-cushion like flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. These blooms are held aloft on strong, branching stems, giving the plant an airy, ethereal appearance. The Giant Scabious has a clumping habit, with its leaves often being deeply lobed and appearing almost fern-like, adding a textural contrast to the garden. Overall, its gentle colors and fine texture make it a lovely addition that complements bolder plants in a mixed border.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Giant Scabious, Yellow Scabious, Giant Pincushion Flower

    • Common names

      Cephalaria gigantea, Calcitrapoides gigantea, Cephalaria intermedia, Cephalaria leucantha, Scabiosa gigantea.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) is not commonly known to be toxic to humans. There are no widespread reports of poisoning or adverse effects from ingesting this plant. However, as with any plant material, individual allergies or sensitivities can occur, so it is generally recommended not to consume parts of plants that are not recognized as food.

    • To pets

      Giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) is not commonly known to be toxic to pets. It is not listed as a toxic plant for pets such as dogs, cats, and horses. However, as with any non-food plant, consumption in large quantities could potentially cause mild stomach upset. It is always best to prevent pets from ingesting ornamental plants.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 feet (1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Giant scabious is known to attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects, helping to pollinate your garden.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: With its tall stems and large, pale yellow flowers, giant scabious adds height and a soft texture to garden borders or wildflower meadows.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it can tolerate periods of dry weather, making it a good choice for xeriscaping or low-water gardens.
    • Wildlife Habitat: The plant provides shelter and food resources for a variety of wildlife, particularly insects that rely on native flora.
    • Easy to Grow: Giant scabious is relatively easy to cultivate, requiring minimal maintenance, which makes it suitable for novice gardeners.
    • Self-Seeding: It can self-seed under optimal conditions, saving resources by reducing the need for purchasing new plants each year.
    • Seasonal Interest: It blooms in the summer, providing visual interest at a time when many other plants may not be in flower.
    • Cut Flowers: The stems of giant scabious are long and sturdy, making them great for use in floral arrangements and bouquets.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Giant Scabious can be used as a natural dye for fabrics, offering hues ranging from pale yellows to soft greens depending on the mordant used.
    • The dried seed heads of Giant Scabious provide textural interest in floral arrangements or crafts, lasting throughout the winter months.
    • In permaculture, Giant Scabious is planted to add biodiversity, attracting beneficial insects like bees and butterflies with its nectar-rich flowers.
    • The tall and sturdy stems of Giant Scabious can be used as natural stakes for supporting other plants in the garden.
    • The plant's sprawling nature allows it to act as a ground cover, suppressing weeds and reducing garden maintenance.
    • Giant Scabious can serve as a companion plant for vegetable gardens to attract pollinators, thus increasing the yield of crops.
    • The plant can be used in educational settings to teach about the lifecycles of butterflies and bees, which frequently visit its flowers.
    • Giant Scabious foliage can be used as a green mulch or added to compost piles to enhance decomposition.
    • As part of wildlife gardens, Giant Scabious can provide essential resources for small mammals and birds, like seed-eating finches.
    • The plant can be used in landscape design to create a visually pleasing, height-contrasting element in borders and beds.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Giant Scabious is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Giant Scabious is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Grandeur: The species name 'gigantea' reflects the large size of the plant and its flowers, making it symbolic of magnificence and awe-inspiring presence.
    • Space and Freedom: Due to the plant's sprawling habit and need for space to grow, it can be symbolic of freedom and the need for personal space.
    • Growth and Expansion: Given the plant's rapid growth rate and tall stature, it often symbolizes growth, expansion, and reaching for higher goals.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Late summer to early autumn
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Giant scabious should be watered deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. During active growth periods, this might mean watering once or twice a week, using about 1 gallon of water for each plant, depending on climate conditions and soil type. Water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases. In periods of rainfall, decrease supplemental watering. During winter dormancy, water less frequently, just enough to keep the plant from drying out completely.

  • sunLight

    Giant scabious grows best in full sun, where it can receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. The ideal spot would be an east or west-facing garden that gets plenty of morning or late afternoon sunlight but is shielded from the harsh midday sun. While it can tolerate some partial shade, too much shade can lead to leggy growth and fewer flowers.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Giant scabious thrives in temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive minimum temperatures down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit but will perish in prolonged or more severe cold. During hot summers, temperatures exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit can stress the plant, so provide some afternoon shade in areas with intense heat.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune giant scabious to maintain its shape and encourage bushier growth. Deadhead spent flowers to promote continued blooming throughout the season. Cut back the foliage in late winter or early spring before new growth begins to tidy up the plant and remove dead leaves. Pruning is typically done once a year, but deadheading can occur as often as needed during the blooming period.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Giant Scabious thrives in well-drained soil with abundant organic matter and a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. A mix of garden soil, compost, and perlite would create an ideal environment for this plant, enhancing drainage while retaining necessary nutrients.

  • plantRepotting

    Giant Scabious should be repotted every 2-3 years or when it becomes root-bound, typically during springtime before the onset of the growing season, to encourage healthy growth and blooming.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Giant Scabious is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not require a highly humid environment; average room humidity should suffice for this hardy perennial.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Grow Giant Scabious in bright light and well-draining soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Giant Scabious in sun, well-draining soil, and space well.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Giant Scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) initiates its life cycle as seeds, usually sown in early spring or autumn directly into well-drained soil. The seeds germinate, developing into a rosette of leaves at the ground level during the first growing season. The plant undergoes vegetative growth, forming a tall, sturdy stem with deeply lobed leaves in its second year. During midsummer to early autumn of the second or subsequent years, Giant Scabious produces large, creamy yellow flower heads that are attractive to bees and butterflies. After pollination, the flowers set seeds, which are dispersed by wind or wildlife, completing the reproductive cycle. The parent plant may die back after seeding (depending on climate and conditions), but the species is a short-lived perennial and may survive several seasons before senescence.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Late summer to early autumn

    • Propogation: The Giant Scabious, or Cephalaria gigantea, is commonly propagated by seed. The ideal time to sow the seeds is in spring after the danger of frost has passed. Sowing can be done directly into a well-prepared seedbed in the garden, where they will germinate and grow to flowering size in one growing season. To propagate by seed, simply scatter the seeds over the soil and lightly cover them with about an eighth of an inch (3 mm) of soil. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until germination, which typically takes about two to three weeks. Once the seedlings have developed their first true leaves and are large enough to handle, they can be thinned out or transplanted to their final positions in the garden. This method is popular for its simplicity and effectiveness in producing new plants that are true to the parent's characteristics.