Blue is the most sought-after colour in the garden and there are few true blue flowering plants available. Anagallis monellii, the Blue Pimpernel has one of the brightest gentian-blue flowers available.
This charming and unassuming plant is easily raised from seed and, although a perennial it is quite tender and is often grown as an annual. Its habit of producing a large number of base stems gives a neat, compact form. The stems are suitably springy and become pendulous in hanging baskets and other containers. Full sun encourages the most prolific display of intense blooms which are produced in an endless procession from late spring to first frosts.
This versatile little plant can be grown as a half hardy annual, sown indoors in late winter or sown directly where it is to flower in April. It is drought tolerant and can be used in coastal areas. It can be used as a bedding plant, as edging or as a groundcover or to trail over walls, containers or hanging baskets.
Numerous cultivars of this and of the small-leafed subspecies Anagallis monelli ssp. linifolia, are sold as annuals for rockeries, border edges, containers, and hanging baskets. They have lovely names, including Anagallis monelli ‘Skylover,’ Anagallis monelli ‘Blue Bird,’ Anagallis monelli ssp. linifolia ‘Gentian Blue,’ and Anagallis monelli ‘Philipii,’ but the differences among them are minimal and mostly limited to variations in the shade of the bright blue flowers.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
In 1993 Anagallis monellii was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
A key indicator that this variety is worth growing in your garden.
Sowing: Sow indoors in Spring, January to May
Fill individual peat pots, seed-starting cells or flats, or 7cm (3”) pot with a good commercial seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix and let it drain. Surface sow the seeds and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite or 1/16 “ of compost. Do not cover with soil as they need light to germinate.
Cover the containers with clear plastic to keep the mix moist while the seeds are germinating and place in a warm location. Keep moist, watering from the base of the container. Germination takes 18 to 21 days at 18-20°C (65-70°F). As soon as seedlings start to emerge, remove the plastic cover and lower the temperature to 15°C (60°F). Germination can sometimes be slow and erratic, don't discard the container too early as a second flush of seedlings may appear later.
When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Handle the plants with care and avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible when transplanting to prevent wilting. Gradually hardened off for 10-14 days before transplanting into the flowering site after all risk of frost has passed. Plant 23-30cm (9-12in) apart in full sun.
Anagallis prefers a well drained soil. When planting in hanging baskets or container take care not to overwater in the early stages.
Anagallis monellii is naturally perennial. If you wish to keep plants over winter, bring the plants indoors as the minimal winter temperature that the plant can survive in is 6 to 8°C. Perfect drainage is a sound precaution against winter loss. Cuttings may also be taken as insurance for overwintering indoors.
Rockeries, Underplanting, Baskets, Bedding, Borders, Containers, Patio.
Anagallis is a genus of about 20 to 25 species of flowering plants. Anagallis monellii, the Blue Pimpernel is native to the western Mediterranean region where It is found in dry, open habits. Information is scarce regarding its history and domestication and very few cultivars are available.
Anagallis were formerly classified as members of the primrose family (Primulaceae), but a genetic and morphological study by Källersjö showed that they belong to the closely related family Myrsinaceae. In the APG III system, published in 2009, Primulaceae is expanded to include Myrsinaceae, thus Anagallis is in Primulaceae.
Anagallis is commonly called pimpernel and perhaps best known for the wildflower species Anagallis arvensis, also called the Scarlet Pimpernel, as in the character in literature.
The botanical name is from the Greek, ana meaning 'again', and agallein meaning 'to delight in', and refers to the opening and closing of the flowers in response to environmental conditions. The flowers of the species open each time the sun strikes them. Their habit of closing in dull weather and when rain is approaching has also given the plant the common name of 'Poor man's weather-glass.'
The species name monellii, honours Jean Monelle, a 16th century French horticulturist said to have introduced this species to French garden culture in 1648 and about whom little else is known (he may or may not have been Italian, Monello or Monelli). The epithet originated in 1583 with Charles de l’Écluse (1526-1609) and was later adopted by Linnaeus.
Known to botanists by his Latinised name, Carolus Clusius, he was a Flemish doctor and pioneering botanist and perhaps the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists.
Botany was becoming a discipline in its own right and no longer considered a branch of medicine, the plants of interest only for their medicinal or culinary properties. Clusius was one of the first in northern Europe to recognise plants for their own sake, valuing their beauty as well as their use. He is most well known for being responsible for introducing the tulip to the Netherlands, transforming gardens there and throughout Europe. Indeed, one contemporary described him as the father of all the beautiful gardens in Europe.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 100 seeds / gram Family Myrsinaceae Genus Anagallis Species monellii Synonym Anagallis linifolia, Anagallis collina, Lysimachia monelli Common Name The Blue Pimpernel Other Common Names Flaxleaf Pimpernell Hardiness Tender Perennial often used as an Annual Flowers Indigo blue up to 2cm (¾in) Natural Flower Time Late Spring to first frost Height 15 to 20cm (6 to 8in) Spread 40cm (16in) Position 40cm (16in) Soil Well-drained / Light Time to Sow January to May Germination 18 to 21 days at 18-20°C *(65 to 70°F)