Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Some light afternoon shade is appreciated in hot and humid St. Louis summers. Needs excellent drainage, but avoid dry soils. Loves deep, rich, fertile soils, but is more invasive therein and tends to grow taller and flop more. Taller plants do best with some form of staking or support. Plants benefit from a winter mulch on the root zone, but not on the crowns. Can be short-lived in the garden. Prompt deadheading of spent flowers may prolong the bloom period and will help prevent any unwanted self-seeding. If foliage turns unsightly in summer after bloom, plants may be cut back hard. Plants may also be cut back hard in early autumn to aid in overwintering. Plants may be propagated by seed, division in spring or root cuttings. May readily self-seed (sometimes aggressively) and naturalize in the garden in optimum growing conditions, but cultivars of this plant generally do not come true from seed and should be propagated by root cuttings.
‘Dropmore’ is best propagated by root cuttings taken in fall.
Anchusa azurea, commonly known as alkanet or Italian bugloss, is a coarse, hairy, spring-blooming, clump-forming, short-lived perennial of the borage family that typically grows to 3-5’ tall. It is native to the Mediterranean but has been introduced in North America where it has escaped gardens and naturalized in British Columbia plus a number of States in the U.S. Alternate, entire, hispid, linear-elliptic to lanceolate leaves (to 6” long) are sessile or clasping at the base. Deep blue to violet flowers (to 3/4” diameter) are reminiscent of forget-me-nots (Myosotis). Flowers bloom in loose terminal spikes (scorpioid cymes) rising above the foliage in late spring to early summer.
Genus name comes from the Greek word ankousa in reference to a root pigment which was once used as a cosmetic paint for staining the skin.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word azureus meaning sky blue in reference to flower color.
Alkanet is a red dye made from the roots of some plants in the genus Anchusa.
‘Dropmore’ is a cultivar that was first introduced into commerce in 1905. It grows to 3-4’ tall with a floppy habit. Flowers are deep blue.
Crown rot can be a significant problem, particularly in wet, poorly drained soils. Taller plants usually need some kind of unobtrusive staking or support. Plant stems tend to open up and flop and foliage tends to depreciate in summer after bloom, particularly in hot and humid summer climates such as the St. Louis area.
Borders. Specimen or small groups. Naturalized areas.