arhs Yachts International
arhs Yachts International

Gentiana asclepiadea

By Roslyn Duffus

Gentians are among my favourite flowers and this species, willow gentian, is lovely and, once established, I have found it to be one of the easiest to grow in my garden. Mine have all come from seed and I must admit that they have been somewhat slow to grow in the first years but have now developed into large, deep rooted clumps so site them carefully. I did think I would move them a few years ago but thought better of it when I tried to dig under the clump. It was much easier to move the plants they were crowding.

They are planted in good, humus rich soil, moist but well drained and have part shade for some of the day and full sun for several hours in the afternoon. This doesn’t seem to be a problem now that they are mature but they do get good watering in dry weather.

The roots send out long willowy stems from 24-36 inches which can be allowed to flop or could be supported with something like a peony cage early on. If allowed to flop, they can cover a fairly large area, so beware. The flowers show up a little later in the season and stay in good shape for a while. They are trumpet shaped and open all along the stem at the leaf axils from mid to late summer. They are generally light to dark blue with a lighter or white throat. They usually produce copious seed but I have rarely seen seedlings. I expect that is because they are so slow to develop that they usually get weeded out or crowded out by other more vigorous things. If you want to try growing from seed, it is best to get fresh seed and plant it immediately, perhaps in a pot and leave out in a cold frame for the winter. I have found that they do better if left to grow on a bit this way before setting out in the garden.

There are other colour forms available now but I have yet to have anything but blue turn up from my seed lots. I would be interested to know if anyone has seen any of these at any nurseries around here.