Anchusa azureaItalian bugloss is a biennial or short-lived perennial native to Europe, western Asia and pars of North Africa. It is a member of the borge family (Boraginaceae) along with forget-me-nots, heliotrope, and lungwort (Pulmonaria). The erect stems grow up to five feet tall and the light green leaves are lance-shaped and hairy. The tubular flowers are azure blue with white centers and produced in terminal panicles from late spring into summer. Self-seeds readily but hybrids will not breed true. The plant has a long taproot and is difficult to divide or transplant. It prefers cool summers and is not tolerant of humidity. Dear and rabbits avoid it because of its hairy leaves. The flowers are edible and are useful in salads and as a garnish.

Type: Biennial or short-lived perennial

Bloom: Panicles of bright azure blue flowers with white centers from late spring into summer

Size: 3-5′ H x 1.5-2′ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Average, moist, well-drained

Care: Cut back after flowering for rebloom and to extend the life of the plant; divide every two years.

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Pests and Diseases: Aster yellows

Propagation: Seed, but best results are rfom root cuttings 3-4″ long and 1/2″ in diameter

Companion Plants: Especially pretty with yellow and orange flowers such as Verbascum ‘Gainsborough’, meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris citrinus), Geum ‘Borisii’

Outstanding Selections:
‘Dropmore’ (3- to 4′ tall; deep blue flowers)
‘Little John’ (12- 18″ tall; dark blue flowers)
‘Loddon Royalist’ ( 3- to 4′ tall; vivid blue flowers)
‘Opal’: (4′ tall leggy plants; pastel blue flowers)

By Karen