True blue flowers are favourites in most gardens. The Gentiana acaulis Group features plump, upright, blue trumpet flowers that smother mounds of foliage in springtime. Members of the group include the species G. acaulis, alpina, clusii, dinarica, ligustica and occidentalis.
For best results, grow these alpines in fertile well-drained soil in full sun or only a little bit of shade. Locations that allow water to run away from the crown of the plant, such as the top of a low wall or a mounded rock garden, help prevent rot and make good spots from which to admire these natives of European alps. Unlike many rock garden plants, which generally do well in lean soils, gentians benefit from a richer mix; so add some compost to the planting hole.
Many people will tell you how easy it is to grow gentians; however, if your plant doesn’t flower, try moving it – even only a metre away can make a difference. Also, plants may decline after several years. When this happens, dig them up and divide them in the early spring, then replant in soil amended with compost.
Enjoy the blues!
Photo: Janet Davis