Plant of the Month for January, 2012

(jen-shee-AN-uh  da-HYUR-ih-kuh) or (gen-TEE-ah-na  da-her-IH-ca)

General Information:

This Gentian is easy to grow making it a good choice as your first Gentian. It is a loose, semi-sprawling plant with lax stems and flowers. As it grows, the stems tend to lie on the ground creating an enlarging mat of bright green grass-like leaves. When grown between other plants it is more upright.

Flowers are blue with white spotted throats and are formed in the leaf axis and at the growing tips. In cooler regions like Ontario it can be grown in full sun where it will flower better than in part shade. It may self sow slightly near the mother plant but is not at all invasive. Once established it seems to be long lived and undemanding.

         

                                        Gentiana dahurica; photo by Robert Pavlis

The lovely blue flowers and late summer flowering period make this a valuable addition to your garden.

Plants and seeds with the names G. dahurica,  G. cruciata, or G. gracilipes are frequently misnamed. G. gracilipes is no longer considered to be a separate species and is a synonym of G. dahurica. G. cruciata is a separate species that is horticulturally very similar to G. dahurica, with both belonging to the subgenus Cruciata. G. cruciata has distinctly ovate foliage, similar to G. acaulis, while G. dahurica has narrow, lanceolate leaves.

For the true collector of rare plants try G. kurroo or G. olivieri which are in the same subgenus and are considered by some to have an even better floral display than G. dahurica. 

          Life Cycle: perennial

Natural Range: Mongolia, and China

Habitat: Grassy sunny slopes, roadsides, stream banks, sandy places around lakes, sunny slopes, dry steppes and the edges of cultivated land at elevations of 800 - 4500 meters

Synonyms: G. gracilipes, G. campanulata, G. biflora, G. kurroo brevidens

Height: 20 cm (8in)

Bloom Time: late summer, early fall

 

                                   Gentiana dahurica; photo by Robert Pavlis

Cultivation:

Light: sun to part shade                               

Soil: normal well draining with some humus, flexible on pH

Water: moderately moist                          

 USDA Hardiness Zone:  4 to 8

Propagation: division, basal cuttings in late spring and late summer, and seed

Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): available most years

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This species needs special care as described.

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Germination is improved by using GA3.

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Expose to fluctuating outdoor winter temperatures including freezing for 3 months. Gradually increase light and temperature in spring. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SO_KKbGYTEM

hard to germinate, avoid pricking out individually, transplant seedlings in clumps
Robert Pavlis, Barrie Porteous