Gentiana cruciata 'Blue Cross'

Common Name: cross gentian 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Gentianaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.75 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Clay Soil


Best grown in moist, well-draining soils in full sun to part shade. Easier to grow for the average gardener compared to other species of Gentian. Tolerant of drought and many soil types include clay. Hardy from Zones 3-7. Plants do not tolerate root disturbance, and transplanting should be avoided once established. The best time to divide large clumps is in early spring just as new growth begins.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Gentiana cruciata, commonly called cross gentian, is a herbaceous perennial native to forest edges, rocky pastures, grasslands, and dry meadows in Europe and western Asia. This plant slowly forms a clump about 8-12" tall and 12-18" wide. The lanceolate leaves (1-3" long) are bright green, glossy, and oppositely attached to the upright stems. The truly blue, trumpet-shaped flowers emerge in a cluster tucked into the leaf axils on the upper part of the stems from late summer into fall. Attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Genus name honors King Gentius of Illyria (reign c. 180-168) B.C., who was reputed to have discovered the medicinal virtues of the root of the yellow gentian or bitterwort (G. lutea) from which a tonic bitters is still made.

The specific epithet cruciata means "crossed" and refers to the shape of the leaves as viewed from above.

'Blue Cross' has a generally more compact and bushy habit compared to the species, and reaches 8-10" tall. The unopened flower buds are creamy white and intensify in color to a deep blue as they mature and open, creating a bicolor effect.


No major pest or disease problems reported. Deer and rabbit resistant.


A beautiful accent plant for the front of a mixed border. Also suitable for rock gardens, woodland gardens, and container plantings. Makes an excellent cut flower.