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Plant Profile: Cupids Dart (Catananche caerulea)

Catananch caeruleaCupid’s dart is a clump forming herbaceous perennial native belonging to the aster family (Asteraceae). It is native to Mediterranean Europe and northern Africa where it grows in meadows and wasteland. The narrow gray-green leaves are eight to teninches long, hairy, grass-like and form basal clumps that give rise to leafless wiry stems bearing the flowers from mid-summer to fall. The blue to lavender flowers are two inches in diameter and subtended by overlapping papery bracts. Cupid’s dart is an old fashioned plant and a good choice for a cottage garden where it looks best planted en mass. It is short-lived under the best conditions, and does poorly in areas with high heat and humidity. Annual division extends the life of the plant. Both fresh and dried flowers are good in arrangements. Cultivars are available varying in color: ‘Alba’ (white), ‘Blue Giant’ (cornflower blue), ‘Bicolor’ (white with deep blue center), ‘Major’ (deep lavender) “Perry’s White’ (white). The common name, Cupid’s dart, comes from its use by the ancient Greeks in a love potion.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Lavender to blue flowers 2 inches in diameter from mid-summer to autumn

Size: 24-36” H x 12” W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 4-8

Care: Divide annually to maintain vigor.

Pests and Diseases: Generally pest free but susceptible to powdery mildew

Propagation: Seed, division

Companion plants: Yarrow (Achillea), baby’s breath, Purple cone flower (Echinacea), Gaura, Lamb’s ear, Russian sage (Perovskia), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Shasta daisy, and ornamental grasses