Catananche caerulea
Common Name: cupid's dart
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Southwestern Europe
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Blue to lavender-blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies

Culture

Best grown in loose, sandy-humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Avoid unamended heavy clay soils. Also avoid wet soils, especially in winter. Plants have some drought tolerance. Plants may be grown from seed. In optimum growing conditions, plants will self seed in the garden. Plants do not perform well in the deep South (south of USDA Zone 7) due to high summer heat and humidity.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Catananche caerulea, commonly called Cupid’s dart, is a short-lived, clump-forming perennial of the aster family. Blue to lavender-blue flowers (to 2” diameter) with dark centers bloom singly on naked wiry stems rising to 2’ tall from a mostly basal clump of narrow, lanceolate, grass-like, gray-green leaves (each 8-12” long). Each flower is subtended by overlapping papery bracts. Flowers bloom freely from mid-summer to autumn. Early Greeks and Romans used this Mediterranean native to make love potions, hence the genus name and common name of Cupid’s dart.

Genus name comes from the Greek name meaning a strong incentive.

Specific epithet means dark blue in reference to flower color.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

Free flowering perennial for beds, border fronts and cottage gardens. Best when massed. Cutting gardens. Excellent for dried flower arrangements.