No flower runs through a greater range of true blue than does the gentian.
Since its various species provide bloom from early March to winter snows, it seems strange that these perennial plants are not more often seen in gardens.
Although mainly mountain and rock garden plants, some gentians may be found for almost any situation among some 800 species and numerous worthy hybrids. Several of these flowering plants make handsome edging plants.
Others are at their best incorporated into an attractive pool landscape design. Some are admirable for the bog garden.
Although the majority are of the color spoken of as gentian blue, a few depart from the strict color line, mostly among the species that run to purple tones. A number of whites appear, a few yellows, a brownish red and one which is reported to be even brighter.
Form and size also vary. Some have huge, fat, upturned trumpet-shaped flowers, others slender tubes; some are short and deeply reflexed, resembling petaled stars. A few reach heights of 2′ or 3′ feet; more are miniature scree clinging plants.
The majority of the good garden forms are from 4″ to 12″ inches in height, the lower ones having several times as much spread around their radiating centers.
The pink-flowered ones common to New Zealand, the Azores and South America have now been placed under the genus Centaurium, although they traveled for some time as Erythraea.
Best known of these is Centaurium scilloides, a pink counterpart of Gentian verna, which rose to fame as Erythraea diffusa and was known before that as Gentian diffusa. This may be some aid in hunting through the nursery catalogs.
Reputation For Difficulty
Gentians do have a reputation for difficulty, and rightly so among the biennial fringed and high scree gentians.
In the main, if a few necessary points in their culture are borne in mind, the majority are as easily grown as other choice border, pool and rock plants. One great drawback has been their scarcity, but they are now appearing again in lists. It is still necessary for one who wishes to make a collection of the rarer types to raise many from seed.
I prefer to sow the fine seed in a pot or small seed flat so that I may water from the bottom. Count on a long germination period. Going over my records through the years.
I find them taking from 16 days for June-sown Farrer’s gentian outdoors to 16 months for poorly placed Parry’s gentian on a boathouse porch which was washed over by salt water during a winter storm.
I’ve tried sowing every month in the year, both indoors and out, and believe that outdoor spring-to-June sowings give the quickest results for the least trouble, but I would not hesitate to sow at any time most personally convenient.
Gentians respond well to bottom water, especially if it is percolating beneath. I’ve seen seeds lie dormant for months and then germinate a few days after the flats were set in a tiny creeklet only an inch or two deep. A similar effect can be evolved by using a shallow trough lined with gravel and just enough stream from the hose to keep the water moving slowly.
The choice of gentians should depend upon what we want them to do in our gardens and also upon the fare we can offer them. As a family, winter cold does not bother them.
A good many, however, have difficulty with hot summers unless they have access to moisture in the air as well as underground, one reason for placing them near a pool. As a family, too, they like company, their roots in nature intertwining with those of alpine grasses and other plants of their own approximate size and sturdiness.
Some are thought to need an unknown bacteria in the soil. Perhaps the most important point in their culture is that they should he firmly set. Also hear in mind that all alpine gentiana flowers dislike being disturbed.
The starlike flowers of the spring gentian are more effective in mass than in individual plantings. Each carries an airy daintiness as though poised for flight. April ,and May are the months listed as their blooming time.
Also, check out the Gentian relative known as the Persian Violet (Exacum affine).
These gentians flowers are a small plant about 3″ inches high and 4″ inches in diameter. The tiny green leaves are, spoon-shaped. It should be planted in a somewhat acid leafy or peaty loam. Gentiana aestive (G. angulosa) is a larger-flowered, more solid form, with a longer period of bloom, sometimes holding well into the fall.
This form is also reported to be more tolerant of garden conditions, hut I have not seen it listed since the war. If the rock pocket is really wet, use the water-loving Gentiana bavarica, which has more yellow in the green of its leaves.
Gentiana saxosa, another plant from genus gentiana, often found in stony places in New Zealand, is the most frequently grown of the various white gentians.
Although the plant is of perhaps twice the spread of those mentioned in the paragraph above, it is of the same low 3″-inch stature and the flowers are white cupped stars rather than trumpets. It blooms in July and August and likes any good neutral garden well-drained soil.
Uses Of Gentian Plant
The benefits of the gentiana plant vary depending on the species. One example is Gentiana lutea from the family Gentianaceae, also known as bitterwort, yellow gentiana or bitter root, helps with creating herbs or medicine that treat digestive problems, hypertension, muscle spasms, cancer, malaria and more.
On the other hand, traditional Austrian medicine used gentiana punctata in formulating herbs for many conditions such as gastrointestinal tract, locomotor issues, pediatric problems, rheumatism and gout.
Parts of the blue gentian plants often used to create such medicines include the funnel-shaped flowers, leaves, and the gentian roots.
In summary, gentian flowers as a family need sun. The real problem is to give them sun without too much heat. The most ideal setting would be a spot with partial shade. They need moisture in the air and moist soil with good drainage. Above all, place them where they can remain undisturbed through the years.