Anchusa azurca

Height: 45-150cm (1.5-5ft)

Planting distance: 30-45cm

Features: flowers summer

Soil: fertile, well-drained

Site: sun

Type: herbaceous

Anchusa azurca (syn. A. italica) provides a vivid, long-lasting display of colour from early to late summer. Seen at its best when planted in groups, scores of small, saucer-shaped, blue flowers, each with a white or yellow eye, rise above the coarse, mid-green foliage.

The flowers are borne on narrowly branching, upright spikes and appear on the top third of the plant, drawing attention away from the leaves. The bristly stems can look coarse and unattractive when the flowers have died away. Anchusa is short lived, but self-seeds easily.

Popular varieties:

Several varieties of differing heights and with flowers of various shades of blue have been developed from the wild species.

‘Dropmore’ has deep blue blooms and reaches 1.5m (5ft) high; ‘Little John’ has brilliant blue flowers and reaches a height of 45cm ( 1 1/2’ft); ‘I.oddon Rovalisr” grows to

Anchusa azurea 90cm (.-tr) high and has deep gentian blue flowers; ‘Morning Glory’ grows up to 1.5m (5ft) high and has deep blue flowers; ‘Opal’ has sky-blue flowers on stems up to 1.2m (4ft) high; and ‘Royal blue’ has intense blue flowers and reaches 90-120cm (3-4fr) high.

Cultivation

Plant anchusa outdoors between mid autumn and early spring in any fertile, well-drained garden soil in a sunny site. It dis-likes winter wet. Support the stems with twiggy sticks and remove the upper half of the stems after flowering to encourage a further display. Cut down old stems in mid autumn.

Propagation: Increase by root cuttings taken in mid or late winter. Plant in a cold frame and set out in a nursery bed in mid to late spring. Plant out in permanent positions from mid autumn.

Pests and diseases: Anchusa is generally trouble free.

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