I first met this charming plant in a small nursery in Annapolis MD, run by a husband and wife who seemed to love plants. They had all sorts of annuals and perennials that I could not easily find elsewhere and at wonderful prices. The velvety purple trim of the flowers really won my heart and I bought a six pack on an impulse with no idea where I would plant them. They ended up in too sunny a spot and they became sun scorched but kept on blooming all season. I have also grown them in more shade in my Piedmont, North Carolina garden and they have performed well, although became a little leggy toward the end of summer. They grow into compact mounds covered with flowers of pink, blue, lavender, or purple. They never need deadheading but do need a healthy dose of fertilizer high in potassium every couple of weeks to keep up flower production but they are well worth the effort. Good in borders, as edging or in containers. Their unusual flower with its wishbone formed by two stamens makes it memorable and interesting even to kids.

Type: Annual.

Bloom: Trumpet-shaped flowers in velvety white, pink, lavender, blue or purple are produced all summer.

Size: 8-12” H x 6-8” W.

Light: Full sun in North; part shade to shade in South or morning sun and afternoon shade.

Soil: Rich, humusy, moist, well drained.

Fertilizer: Apply liquid fertilizer high in potassium every two weeks.

Care: Pinch to encourage bushiness. Keep well watered; low drought tolerance.

Pests and Diseases: Slugs; susceptible to root rot and powdery mildew.

Propagation: Seeds sown early in spring indoors (barely cover the seeds with soil as light improves germination); sometimes will self-seed; cuttings.

Companion plants: Hosta, foamflower (Tiarella sp.), fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra exima), and ferns.

Outstanding Selection: ‘Summer Wave Blue’ (deep blue flowers much larger than the species).

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By Karen