This beautiful highly versatile, aristocratic border plant has become very much in vogue in recent years. It has oval, fleshy blue-green leaves, mottled with white, spiral up the stem, transforming themselves into tighter packed, sea blue bracts - and then the finale - small clusters of rich purple/blue tubular, nodding flowers, which are cream inside and adored by bees. Heat tolerant throughout the summer and hardy down to at least -5*C (23*F). Cooler nights in autumn produce an even deeper blue colour.
In warm areas, Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' is said to be solidly hardy and evergreen to boot. (You may wish to give them some protection during hard winters). Elsewhere, Cerinthe major behaves as an annual, it will politely drop its large pea sized seeds throughout late summer and early autumn and will grow in and around the same patch for quite some years. The resultant seedlings will mean that it rarely disappears.
Sometimes referred to as 'Blue Kiwi' and 'Pride of Gibraltar', the Blue Shrimp Plant is one of the most asked about plants in our garden. Growing to approximately 18 to 24 inches tall, this rare “heirloom” variety is a subtle but beautiful plant that is very easy to grow. It has the additional benefit of being slug resistant.
Sowing: Sow early to late spring indoors or direct in mid to late spring.
Easy to grow from seed, plant in full sun or part shade, in poor, well drained neutral or alkaline soil. On heavier soils, incorporate plenty of grit to improve drainage, prior to planting.
Seeds can be sow early indoors and transplanted outdoors, or they can be sown directly where they are to grow in late spring or in autumn for flowering the next year.
Soaking seeds overnight in a bowl of water that starts of warm will help germination.
The seed can also be sown in mid to late spring where it is to flower and covered to a depth of 3mm (1/8in).
Sow in January to March 4 to 8 weeks before planting outside. Sow at 1.5mm (1/16in) deep in pots or trays in a good seed compost. Make sure the compost is moist but not wet and seal inside a polythene bag until germination which usually takes 5 to 21 days at 21°C (70°F).
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 7 to 10 days before planting out after all risk of frost 15cm (6in) apart in full sun and ordinary well-drained soil.
Transplant the seedlings when large enough to handle, plant in squares, spacing them 5cm (2in) apart.
In March to April the seed can also be sown directly where it is to flower. Prepare the area well, sow to a depth of 3mm (1/8in).
The weight of the flowers often causes the stems to flop over, but they are more impressive if the stems can be held upright so that the colours of the drooping tip can be appreciated.
City/Courtyard Gardens, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds or Patio/Container Plants.
The genus is originally from the Mediterranean region. The name Cerinthe comes from the Greek word keros meaning wax, and anthos the Greek name for a flower.
It was considered an important nectar source for honeybees, it was also thought that bees obtained wax from the flowers.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 12 Seeds Family Boraginaceae Genus Cerinthe Species major Cultivar Purpurascens Common Name Blue Shrimp Plant, Honeywort, Blue Wax Flower Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Flowers Clusters of rich purple/blue tubular, nodding flowers, Natural Flower Time Late Spring thru to Late Summer Foliage Oval, fleshy blue-green leaves, mottled with white, Height 45-60cm (18-24in) Spread 60cm (24in) Position Full Sun to Light Shade Soil Well-drained/light, Chalky/alkaline Time to Sow Early to late spring indoors or direct in mid to late spring Germination 5 to 21 days