The bright blue flowers of Anchusa (along with myosotis (forget-me-not)) are among the few truly blue flowers in the garden. The upright branching stems of Anchusa are covered with large open sprays of small starry blue flowers, from June to August.
Botanical Name: Anchusa
Common Names: Alkanet, Blue Bugloss, Cape Forget-me-not
Foliage: Green, coarse hairy. Mainly basal leaves.
Flowers: Open sprays of small tubular or star-shaped flowers, borne on branching stems. Usually intense deep blue.
Flowering Period: June, July, August.
Soil: Moderately fertile, moist but well-drained (dislikes clay or waterlogged soils).
Conditions: Full sun or semi-shade, any aspect.
Habit: Upright or spreading (depending on variety).
Type: Hardy biennials, annuals and herbaceous perennials.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in UK.
For the best results, plant in a good fertile moisture retentive soil, in full sun.
Anchusa are "tap-rooted" and therefore required extra deep planting holes, otherwise their long roots will not be able to grow correctly and obtain the necessary nourishment and moisture. Do not attempt move the plants during the growing season or you may damage the tap roots.
Good for sunny herbaceous borders, wildlife areas and cottage gardens. Normally grown as a perennial but there are a number of annuals and biennials that can be used for bedding or in containers.
Stake taller varieties before flowers open.
Regularly cut down faded flowers to the base, to encourage further blooms.
Susceptible to attack by leaf-miner. Can be affected by powdery mildews.
Sow seeds of annuals and biennials in mid-spring, where the plants are to flower. Thinning to 9in apart.
Root cuttings of perennials can be taken in late autumn. Take 2in (5cm) sections of root and plant vertically in free draining soil, in a cold frame.
Most varieties enjoy a long flowering season from July to August.
azurea 'Loddon Royalist' a short-lived herbaceous
perennial (best treated
as a biennial) with intense blue saucer-shaped flowers. Hardy. Height: 3ft (90cm) Spread: 12in (30cm).
Anchusa azurea 'Opal' similar to 'Loddon Royalist' but with sky blue flowers. Hardy. Height: 3ft (90cm) Spread: 2ft (60cm).
Anchusa azurea 'Dropmore' a taller variety with intense blue flowers and dark mauve stems. Hardy. Height: 3-5ft (1-1.75m) Spread: 18-24in (30-60cm).
A. capensis a biennial, usually grown as an annual. Grows about 18in (45cm) tall and develops a plethora of saucer shaped flowers in dense clusters. The modern cultivar A. capensis 'Blue Angel' forms a compact dome of massed blue flowers 9in (22cm) high.
A. angustifolia has vibrant gentian blue flowers from May to August. Short-lived. Height: 10in (25cm), spread 12in (30cm).
A. cespitosa a low growing, compact, hardy perennial. Vivid blue flowers with a white eye. Height 2-3in (5-7.5cm), spread 6-9in (15-22cm). Ideal plant for the alpine house or in a scree bed outdoors.