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Garden Photo of the Day

Your Next Favorite Blue Flower

bottle gentian buds

Jeff Calton has the blues, and in the best way possible!

"These are the flowers that I most enjoyed last fall.  They have a clear blue color, flower for a LONG time and the buds are very cool.  Even when frozen in early morning they thaw to give a show the rest of the day. Gentian andrewsii  (correction per Jeff: Gentian True Blue)- look for them and plant a lot!"

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  1. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 01/18/2016

    Well, you've convinced me, Jeff... Gentian andrewsii looks like an ideal addition for a garden...like the new neighbor that everyone wants to know and who gets along with everybody. The flower is a wonderful shade of blue and has a delightful shape. The foliage is very attractive also. Do you expect it to be a generous spreader? And do you feel it's more a shade lover or sun lover?

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      they like moist ,,,,,,,,,,morning sun to partial shade. they aren't going to like afternoon sun

      1. Annek 01/18/2016

        What a beautifully intense color of blue. And you gave me an 'aha' moment. That's what I did wrong....too much afternoon sun. My poor gentians dried up even though they were kept moist. You're the guru I try to go to for almost anything ailing. Or beautiful. Or unusual. Or funny. Thanks for the photos and comments

        1. Sheila_Schultz 01/18/2016

          I'm taking the hint from your experiences, Kielian. I think I've got just the spot to give them a try!

        2. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2016

          I've got two of the alpines (one photo in my comment to Sheila) in full sun, growing in the dirty gravel of my gravel garden. If it gets super dry, I might toss a little water on them at times. If you've got a sunny spot for a low-growing, cobalt-blue flowered gem, I'd really give them a try. Allegedly they grow well in normal garden soil as well and I'm trying some like that as well. Nothing like them!

  2. diane_lasauce 01/18/2016

    How lovely! I always seek blue plants for my gardens. Thanks!

  3. user-4691082 01/18/2016

    What zone are they hardy to? Would love to find a place for them!

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      zone 3 to 7

  4. user-4691082 01/18/2016

    Thanks, Jeff! It is 16 degrees this morning in SE Pa. I am looking forward to spring...

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2016

      Well, Rhonda, I knew winter had to come sometime to us in OH and PA, but we've been so spoiled this year! 3 degrees here this morning. Definitely ready for spring!

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2016

    Great shots, Jeff. I always love having the blues! Nothing beats Gentian blue, and so many are not finicky like Meconopsis. The alpine Gentians, like G. acaulis, G. angustifolia and G. semptifida are surprisingly easy, too. Gotta have 'em!

    1. Sheila_Schultz 01/18/2016

      I'm going to have to check out the alpines, Tim. Thanks!

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2016

        Edelweiss Perennials has a great selection! I'm not 100% sure on the ID on this photo from the gravel garden a few years back: either a cultivar of G. angustifolia or G. acaulis.

        1. Sheila_Schultz 01/18/2016

          Great... I'm going to check them out!

        2. Annek 01/18/2016

          Good green plants above!!! (Like heavens above but better). That is a gorgeous color. You've pulled me in. I'm ordering some gentian now. With 66 acres, I'll find a place for them!

          1. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/19/2016

            You won't regret it. The alpines are slow growing and take a while to bulk up, but nothing beats those huge cobalt blue trumpets from the mat of glossy green foliage, in my book. You've probably found that there are spring bloomers, summer bloomers and fall bloomers, too. There are pale blues and whites, but I love the cobalt blue the most.

        3. User avater
          HelloFromMD 01/19/2016

          Hi Tim, that is an amazing and large flower for such a small plant. I did plant a Gentian in my rock garden but it seems to come back from seed and it is not robust. Hope I can find the reference. I bought True Blue last year planted it in my front garden and the other plants leaned over them and I go back and find they are gone. So will be looking for a source this spring and will beef them up in my nursery bed. The pictures I saw of True Blue and the description from Santa Rosa nurseries was that it gets 2 feet tall. I doubt I received the correct gentians they were only a couple of inches tall and just didn't look like a perennial that will get height. That's always a problem - will the plant in the pot match the tag!

          1. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/19/2016

            Do you have the willow gentian, Gentiana asclepiadea? It's a hardy shade lover. There are white and pink varieties, but I love the blues and have it on my list. I've seen various shades of blue, so I think it is good to make sure the vendor honestly shows the color of the strain they are selling, if you are interested in trying. I've seen photos of huge clumps that are astounding, and they bloom late, which is often a plus.
            I've not tried True Blue, yet. Sound like yours were not right, though.

  6. Luvfall 01/18/2016

    I second the kudos on the combination with heuchera and heather. But I don't think that this is Gentiana Andrewsii. The flowers of Andrewsii, known as Bottle Gentian, never open. If you Google 'Bottle Gentian Pollination' you can find a YouTube video showing how the bee crawls inside the unopened flower

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      well, that's what i get for trusting a plant tag! which one is this?

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/18/2016

        The smaller ones look like your fall-blooming G. scabra, but you've shared those before. Are there two different ones on this post? There's a more lax one and then the ones in the containers that are tighter.

  7. Luvfall 01/18/2016

    I think that True Blue is a hybrid of two non-native varieties, Makinoi and Scabra. Andrewsii is a native variety. Even though the flowers of Andrewsii don't open you still get a good blue color in the garden and watching the bees on it is fascinating.

  8. PerenniallyCrazy 01/18/2016

    Thanks for the new plant introduction (at least to me) Jeff. I hope to find these here and try them out in the next planting season. Do they like heat and humidity and are they scented?

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      no scent that i am aware of and they sail through heat/humidity here

  9. GrannyCC 01/18/2016

    Gorgeous Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Schatzi 01/18/2016

    Beautiful, Jeff. Nothing beats blue in the garden. or anywhere else. My favorite colors are blue and green. But no, I am not a Seahawks fan. I don't follow sports. For an incredibly bright blue annual, try Anagalis. It glows.

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      I don't know that plant but will give it a go this spring I think

  11. Sheila_Schultz 01/18/2016

    My gardens are obviously Gentian lacking... they are going on the growing list of must-haves! That's one gorgeous blue color, Jeff!

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      my must have list is exceeding my can pay for list

      1. Sheila_Schultz 01/18/2016

        Same here... this year isn't going to be cheap, lots of areas that need additions and adjustments.

  12. GrannyMay 01/18/2016

    Add me to the list of fans, Jeff! I had gentians years ago and don't remember how they expired, but am ready to try again, thanks to your wonderful photos.

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      so far so good with mine, it has lasted a number of years with no problem

  13. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 01/18/2016

    Beautiful Jeff, I'm a sucker for any blue plant and have been looking at Gentians. Do you find that they can be rather fussy? Also, have the critters bothered them?

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      i have had zero problems , they are in filtered light in an area that is constantly moist but well drained. if you like blue check out Agapanthus Graskop if hardy in your area

  14. wGardens 01/18/2016

    Gorgeous, Jeff! I especially like your container! Fabulous combination. And you are right. That Gentian is worth looking into! I looked it up and it is hardy to zone 4. Excellent!

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      go for it, Margaret, you won't be disappointed

  15. Foxglove12 01/18/2016

    Yes, gorgeous Jeff! I'm going to look for these.

  16. JaneEliz 01/18/2016

    Jeff, I'm drooling over your photos of True Blue gentian. As I gaze out on my white yard, I'm hoping that beneath all that white stuff....my True Blue are happily resting! So far they have returned each spring (2 yrs.) in my Maine garden.

    1. jeffgoodearth 01/18/2016

      Jane, I have missed you and where in the world have you been? I really do enjoy them and they glow in the fall

      1. JaneEliz 01/18/2016

        I'm still here in Maine- enjoying gardening and photos and comments on this site on many days. Sadly, I am "tech-challenged" by my new i-photo program and ,often, I can't get my GPOD replies posted here for some unknown reason. I'll keep trying!

  17. eddireid 01/18/2016

    Goodness but these are stop in the tracks blue! And I find cobalt blue very hard to resist, so these are joining me this year. Love the container too and as heather will not grow in my clay soil, it would be the perfect addition in a pot.
    Thank you Jeff for all the tips.

  18. greengenes 01/19/2016

    Gorgeous, gorgeous and more gorgeous! This for sure is on my list of must haves! Great pictures too! These are the kind of blues to have!

  19. cynthiamccain 01/19/2016

    Beautiful, Jeff! Are they deer resistant by any chance?

  20. Erla 01/19/2016

    The Gentian flowers are gorgeous. Question? The nurseries that offer the Gentian Andrewsii do not open but remain in the bottle form. Yet yours are opened beautifully.

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