Veronica longifolia 'Blue John'
Common Name: long leaf speedwell
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Pale blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer

Culture

Easily grown in evenly moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Prefers rich loams. Intolerant of dry soils. Weak floppy growth occurs in too much shade or with overly rich soils. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage additional bloom. Propagate by division, cuttings or seed. Lift, divide and replant every third year with an addition of compost and manure to the soil.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Veronica longifolia, commonly known as long-leaf speedwell, is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial that typically grows to 2-4’ tall with a 1-2’ spread on stems clad with short-stalked, lanceolate to pointed ovate, toothed, medium green leaves (to 3” long). Lower leaves are opposite, but the upper leaves just below the flower spikes are sometimes whorled. Stems are topped in late spring to early summer by a showy bloom of small but abundant funnel-shaped, lilac-blue flowers (each to 1/4 diameter) in slender, crowded, spike-like terminal racemes (to 12” long). Sporadic rebloom to September typically occurs. Plants are native from central and northeastern Europe to southwest Asia, Korea and China.

Pseudolysimachion longifolium is currently listed by most authorities as a synonym of Veronica longifolia.

Genus name honors Saint Veronica who reportedly gave a handkerchief to Jesus so he could wipe sweat from his face on the way to Calvary, with some genus plants having markings that resemble the markings on the sacred handkerchief.

Specific epithet from the Latin word longifolius means having long leaves.

Common name of speedwell probably is in reference to an ancient herbal medicinal use of plant parts in curing aliments in a rapid or speedy fashion.

‘Blue John’ is a compact long leaf speedwell cultivar that features dense, erect, terminal spikes (racemes) of tiny pale blue flowers atop upright stems rising to 20” tall. Dark green, lance-shaped leaves (to 4.5” long). Upper leaves are often arranged in whorls on the stems. Blooms in spring to early summer. Good fresh cut flower.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Taller plants may need support, particularly if plants are grown in less than full sun conditions. Watch for powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

Borders, cottage gardens or meadows. Edging. Best in groups or massed.