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ANCHUSA azurea

Image of Anchusa azurea

Jessie Keith

Family

Boraginaceae

Botanical Name

ANCHUSA azurea

Plant Common Name

Italian Bugloss

General Description

A lovely short-loved perennial for sunny well-drained gardens, Italian bugloss has branched stems covered with numerous rich royal blue flowers that will attract bees. It naturally inhabits drier, open areas, from the Mediterranean to Central Asia, where soils are sharply drained and on the poorer side. It self-sows aggressively and has become naturalized across other temperate regions, such as regions of North America, where it is considered an invasive weed.

The fine, linear leaves of this tough perennial are green to gray-green and covered with coarse hairs. It is very drought tolerant because it produces an exceptionally long tap root that can reach down to moister soil deep in the ground. In early summer it produces branched stems covered with the loveliest blue flowers. These are highly attractive to bees. Once the flowers are spent, the stems look unsightly and should be cut back. This may also encourage a second flush of blooms.

These plants are adapted to dry climates and require little to no supplemental water once established, so they thrive where summers are long and hot. Place in moist, well-drained soils in full sun and avoid excessive winter moisture to prevent the basal plants from rotting. Staking should be considered as this is a tall, bushy ornamental prone to falling over. Italian bugloss is best used as a filler in mixed borders, cottage gardens or Mediterranean gardens. There are several cultivars of note, including the compact 'Feltham Blue' and 'Little John.'

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Width

    2'-2' / 0.6m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Blue, Blue Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No