A gardener could easily fall in love with long-blooming Cupid's Dart. Catananche caerulea is a charming plant. It was historically used in love potions, hence the name, and still symbolises love in the language of flowers.
Catananche caerulea 'Amor Blue' produces blooms of blue, star like flowers each with a dark eye and unique papery petals. The blooms rise on single stems above neat clumps of grey-green foliage, the strong stems hold up to wind and rain.
This beautiful fast-growing perennial is very easy to grow and is often used as an annual. Super planted the garden border, they also make a wonderful show in containers and are a long lasting cut or dried flower.
Native to the dry meadows of Southwest Europe and Italy, these tough plants are hardy to minus 30°C (-22°F) they thrive in average to poor soil and laugh at drought and hot summer sun.
They look best when grown in groupings, rather than one or two plants and don’t mind crowding. Use the plants en-masse in prairie style plantings, mix them up a little with other hardy perennials such as Achillea, Echinacea, Gaura, Perovskia and Rudbeckia. It can also be grown with grasses in a meadow garden.
Sowing: Sow indoors, February to July
Cupid's Dart can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or started indoors for transplanting later. If started early, they can bloom the first year.
Plant them 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area.
Cover Cupid's Dart seeds lightly with soil, about 1/8in. Space seeds 3 to 4in apart. Thin seedlings to 30cm (12in) apart.
Almost fill a seed tray with moist seed compost. Sow seeds thinly over the surface and lightly cover them with a little more compost or vermiculite. Place in warmth at 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) and keep moist. Seeds will germinate in less than two weeks
Keep seedlings in a light position, but shade from bright sun. When large enough to handle transplant 5cm (2in) apart into trays of potting compost. Alternatively transplant to individual 7cm (3in) pots. Gradually accustom plants to outside conditions for 2 to 3 weeks before planting out from April onwards. Allow 15 to 20cm (6 to 9in) between plants. Place the plants no deeper than they were growing in the containers.
Grow in light soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. A sandy loam or light clay is preferred. Soils high in organic matter or moisture content make for short lived catananche plants. Drainage is essential in winter as roots are susceptible to rot root in soggy soils.
Fertiliser is not needed in most soils, though a bit of compost mixed into the planting hole will help retain moisture in very quick draining soils.
Only water when necessary. Deadhead the blooms to encourage the plant to flower throughout the summer until frost. Near the end of summer allow some of the flowers to dry and form seeds, which you can collect.
In autumn fertilize with compost or an all purpose granular fertiliser and provide a light winter mulch.
While it will produce plenty of blooms in the first year, Cupid's Dart will then provide lots of blooms in succeeding years, but needs well draining soil to survive the winter.
Cupid's dart can also be propagated by division.
Super planted the garden border, or as a drift amongst grasses they also make a wonderful show in containers. Grow with grey or silver-leafed plants such as artemisia and Stachys byzantina which enjoy similar growing conditions.
Cut Flower Uses:
Catananche caerulea is long lasting as a cut flower and has interesting papery bracts at the base of the flowers that dry well. They can be dried or preserved in a flower press
The flowers, when preserved in silica or borax, are wonderful for dried flower arrangements. To dry flowers, pick when they are first showing color, and before they totally open. Tie in bunches and hang in a cool, well-ventilated area.
Catananche caerulea has its origins in the high, open meadows of the warm and dry Mediterranean region.
Early Greeks and Romans used this Mediterranean native as a key ingredient in powerful love potions, hence the genus name, from Greek katanangke meaning 'strong incentive' and the common name Cupid’s dart.
The species name caerulea, or sometimes caeruleus, is occasionally found with the older spelling coerulea or coeruleus. All these simply mean ‘blue’ and refer to the colour of the blooms of the species plant.
It is commonly known as Cupid's dart, also as Blue Cupidone and Cerverina. The name Cupid is from the Latin cupido, meaning 'desire'.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 250mg Average Seed Count 70 Seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Catananche Species caerulea Cultivar Amor Blue Common Name Cupids Dart, Love Plant. Other Common Names Blue Cupidone, Cerverina Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 30°C (-22°F) Flowers Blue, star like flowers each with a dark eye Natural Flower Time June to September Foliage Mid green, narrow long leaves Height 50 to 75cm (20 to 30in) Spread 22 to 30cm (9 to 12in) Position Full Sun Soil Well-drained / light