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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Pronounced: kat-ah-NAN-ke se-RU-lee-ah
Southwest Europe, Northern Africa and Italy.
Sunset zones: 1-10, 14-24.
USDA zones: 5-10 (maybe 4).
Height: 20-36 inches (50-90 cm).
Width: 12 inches (30 cm).
Midsummer to autumn.
Blue to lilac-blue flowers, with dark centers.
Grayish-green, grass-like, hairy leaves.
Well-drained soil; plants will be very short-lived in heavy soils.
Sow seed late in winter to spring, barely covering the seed and keeping at temperatures of 65-75°F (19-24°C).Germination in 21-25 days. | Divide in spring.
Pests and Diseases:
Powdery mildew may be a problem.
Rainy Side Notes
Who isn't smitten by Cupid's dart? Catananche caerulea is a flower that grows all around the Mediterranean region. The Greeks and Romans used the flower as a key ingredient for powerful love potions. Even better, it is long lasting as a cut flower and has interesting papery bracts at the base of the flowers that dry well. The flowers, when preserved in silica or borax, are wonderful for dried flower arrangements. To dry flowers, pick when they are first showing color, and before they totally open. Tie in bunches and hang in a cool, well-ventilated area.
Plants will die if the soil is too soggy during winter. These are easy to start from seed and will flower the first year if started in late winter. They may reseed themselves, but not reliably, so plan to replace plants every two or three years.
Go ahead and plant a few of these wonderful old plants, and you too will be smitten by Cupid's dart. What more could we want, except for a few of those ancient love potion recipes?
Photographed in author's garden.
Perennials indexed by botanical names. Click on corresponding letter below.