Species and cultivars vary in plant type, distribution, growth habit, flowers, and cultivation. Usually the plants bear trumpet-shaped flowers, sometimes bell- or urn-shaped, from spring to autumn. Flowers are mainly intense blue, but also white, yellow or red. Gentians are widely distributed throughout temperate zones, mainly in alpine habitats, some in woodland.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsMany autumn-flowering species are classed as semi-evergreens, with flowered stems that die back each year to the rosettes. Small species are suitable for rock gardens, more robust species for the border. Some woodland natives thrive in part shade. Some species are suitable for bog or waterside gardens.
CareGrow in light, fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Site in full sun where summers are cool and damp; otherwise provide shade.
PropagationSow seeds in an open frame; divide or root offsets in spring.
ProblemsCommon: rust, and Asteromella and Cercospora leaf spots. Slugs and snails. Under glass, aphid and spider mites may cause problems.