How to grow Dipsacus (dip-sa-kus)
From the Greek dipsao, to thirst, a reference to the water-holding cavity formed by the leaves united round the stem (Dipsaceae). Teasel. Biennial or perennial herbs, stiff, erect, rough plants with spiny or prickly stems and fruits, some of which can be found wild in Great Britain. The heads have long been used to tease wool and raise the pile on cloth. They are also useful for use in dried flower arrangements for winter decoration.
Species cultivated D. fullonum, fuller’s teasel, 3-6 feet, flowers delicate mauve in conical heads from June to August, biennial. D. sylvestris, common teasel, 5-6 feet, flowers pale lilac, summer, a native biennial plant.
Cultivation Chalky, well-drained soils in open sunny situations are best. Propagation is from seed sown in the open in May or June. The seedlings are thinned and transplanted to their permanent positions in September to flower the following year. No staking is required, but the plants need plenty of room and should be set not less than 2 feet apart. The flower heads should be cut with long stems any time in the late autumn and stored, wrapped in paper or polythene to keep them dust free, in a dry place until required. They can be gilded or silvered for indoor or Christmas decoration. Left unpainted they dry to a pleasant autumnal brown.