Black and Bloom salvia blooms from late spring to late fall, tolerating well the hot and humid Mississippi summer garden conditions. Photo by: Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service
June 27, 2020 9:00:24 PM
Everyone has a certain color that is their absolute favorite, and I'm no different. And while I really like the entire palette of colors available for our gardens and landscape, the one color I must have is blue.
Blue is the color I covet for use in the landscape, but I get disappointed every spring when I'm reading gardening catalogs for new blue offerings. What's really interesting is the way the color descriptions stretch the definition of the color blue. Violet to purple and every hue in between is considered some form of blue.
A plant that has an honored place in my landscape every year is blue butterfly plant, which has intricate flowers that actually resemble little blue butterflies in flight. The flowers are arranged in multiples on long, arching branches.
Individual flowers are about an inch in diameter with several pale blue lobes and a single one of darker blue-violet. I really like the way the stamens and pistil arch out and upward and remind me of eyelashes.
Blue butterfly plant should be planted in the landscape in full sun to partial shade, and it needs consistent soil moisture during the hot summer months.
This plant has an open and airy growth habit, and it flowers on the current season's growth. It blooms from late spring to the first frost in the fall.
Blue butterfly plant is a tropical species that tolerates cooler conditions, being hardy down to about 20 degrees. In my coastal garden, this plant returns from the roots like many other perennial plants. For possibly the best performance, grow it in a large container that can be protected during freezing weather.
There are other plants that have blue flowers.
Blue My Mind evolvulus, a 2019 Mississippi Medallion winner, is a fantastic improvement of Blue Daze evolvulus, one of the very first Mississippi Medallion plants selected in 1996. The individual flowers are funnel-shaped and always form near the shoot tips.
Blue My Mind is a prolific bloomer. The foliage has a downy appearance, and the 1-inch, funnel-shaped flowers are sky blue.
The flowers only open for one day. In the morning, they are brilliant, but by afternoon they look quite spent, especially in west-facing planting beds that receive quite a high heat load each afternoon. A location with a little afternoon shade is welcome, but too much shade will reduce total flowering.
Blue Daze needs to be planted in well-drained soil that is consistently moist.
Salvia is another great choice for blue flowers, and my favorite may be Black and Bloom, which is an improvement on the original Black and Blue. It is one of the many hybrids of Salvia guaranitica.
From late spring to deep into the fall, these deep blue flowers just wow in the landscape. On top of the blue flowers, the black calyx and stems accentuate the contrast of flowers. Best of all, Black and Bloom tolerates our hot and humid summer garden conditions.
So get out and visit your favorite, independent garden center and put some summertime blues in your landscape.
Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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