Anchusa - Blue Alkanet, Bugloss
DESCRIPTION: These are hardy perennial and annual plants. Their height ranges from 11/2 to 5 feet. They produce clusters of flowers that come in white and many different shades of blue in the spring and early summer. They are found wild mainly in European countries and Africa. Bees are greatly attracted to the flowers.
POTTING: Anchusas thrive in regular garden soil that is well drained and they need a sunny spot to grow in. The perennial kinds may be planted in early fall or spring. They are beautiful plants to grow in the herbaceous border. In soil that has adequate drainage, perennial Anchusa will live for several years, but in heavy land they usually die in the winter, therefore it's smart to raise new plants every year from root cuttings or seeds. In all gardens it's wise to raise a fresh supply every year or two to keep a stock of vigorous, healthy plants.
PROPAGATION: Seeds can be sown in a greenhouse or frame in March in flats filled with sifted compost consisting of two-thirds loam and one-third leaf mold with sand added. They can also be started outdoors in a finely prepared seedbed as soon as the soil is suitable for sowing seeds in the spring. When the seedlings are an inch or so high, they should be set 3 inches apart in flats filled with similar soil. They are grown in a cold frame until they're large enough to plant outside. As soon as the seedlings that were started outside are an inch or two high, they should be set 9 inches apart in rows and finally planted in the fall or spring 21/2 feet apart. Root cuttings can be taken at planting time in autumn or early spring. Pieces of root that are 2 inches or so long, are placed end up (the part of the root that was nearest the stem being uppermost), 2 inches apart in boxes of soil and placed in a greenhouse having a 50-degree temperature. The bottom of root should be cut slanting. When roots and leaves have developed, they should be potted individually in 3-inch pots, kept in a cold frame for the winter, and planted outside in the spring.
VARIETIES: These are the perennial kinds - A. azurea (italica); A. Barrelieri; A. caespitosa; A. myosotidiflora.
The annual kind - A. capensis. For winter and spring blooming in the cool (45- to 50-degree night temperature), sunny greenhouse, sow seeds from July to October.
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