by Jackie Seidman
APLD-CA SAN DIEGO DISTRICT
I learned about Centaurea ragusina at the San Diego Master Gardeners’ spring seminar in a lecture by Tom Jesh of Waterwise Botanicals showcasing his favorite waterwise plants.
I took one look at this plant and I fell in love. Tom asked the audience if they would like a large snowflake in their gardens, and that’s a perfect description. A mounding perennial 12-18 inches tall by 2 feet wide, Centaurea ragusina has 6-inch-long bipinnate leaves arranged like tight rosettes. It blooms from late spring through midsummer with fat, thistle-like, bright yellow flowers, which show off well against the gray foliage.
Plant Centaurea ragusina in full sun with good drainage. It’s a summer-dry plant and said to be deer proof. Hardy from the minus 10°’s to 120°, it is great from the desert to the mountains.
Native to Croatia where it grows on rocky cliffs, this long-admired centaurea was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.