Video: Carthamus (Safflower) for Cut-Flower Production | from Johnny's Selected Seeds

Key attributes of Carthamus (safflower) as a cut-flower

Hi! We're in the flower trials, looking at carthamus (safflower). While not the most graceful or trendy crop, it has a few key attributes that we like and wanted to show you here today — the first being that it's a relatively fast-growing crop, at 70–80 days.

It can be direct-seeded or transplanted. This planting here was direct-seeded in late May, and this is late July. We've had a few successions of carthamus plantings; this is the second succession; the first one has gone by.

They're a one-cut crop, so they bloom all at the same time, and you can come in and do one quick harvest. They will not regrow; it's one-and-done.

And in that respect, they they work really nicely with our single-stem sunflower planting. We can plan to have some carthamus one-cut bloom at the same time as some of our one-cut sunflowers. The plants have a really sturdy architecture. I'll show you what that looks like. Here you can see, this is a 5-stem bunch: 3 sunflowers and 2 stems of carthamus. I can show you how sturdy this is — as sturdy a bunch as you could make. These these stems are like trees. They're really, really tough and sturdy, and they add a nice foliage structure to bunches. That's what that looks like. You could even add in another thing that plays nicely with this bunch, some of the fast grasses. This is 'Green Drops' (Panicum violaceum). Put a couple of stems in there to brighten it up — something like that.

A good stage of harvest for carthamus is when several of the blooms on the stem are showing at least some color. These unopened blooms, after they're cut, won't open, so you want to have some color on your stem. Even a stem like this — these 3 are open; this is passed. You can pretty easily just pick that passed blossom out, and then you have a usable stem. I'm just taking the whole plant — super easy to strip long, sturdy stems. That's what 5 stems looks like.

Carthamus comes in a few different colors. Most of the varieties you see will be this beautiful orange-gold color. There are some light-yellow colored varieties, and then also this creamy-white color.

The variety of Carthamus that we offer at Johnny's is called 'Zanzibar'. One of the things we really like about it is that it is a spineless variety. You can see here, this is what 'Zanzibar' looks like. Smooth leaves, rounded leaves, and then, as a comparison, this is another variety that does have spines. You can see the leaves, even the leaf shape, is quite different. It's pointy, and there are spines here, on the ends of the leaves and on the sides of the leaves. So this can be very painful to work with. It's very thistle-like. 'Zanzibar' is easy to work with because there are no spines getting in the way.

Learn more about 'Zanzibar'…
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