Gentiana catesbaei, Bog Gentian. This Fall-blooming perennial is native to the southeastern coastal plain, mainly from Virginia to Florida. The beautiful, blue flowers appear in clusters from about late Sept.-Nov. New growth is often tinged with dark blue/purplish hues.Give this species a moist, acid and drained soil. A good mix for planting is 1/3 sand and 2/3 peat moss. If you have an outdoor bog garden (with Pitcher Plants, bog orchids, etc.), then the Gentian should grow well with these. Give this plant full sun to about 40% shade. The plants should be spaced at least 14 inches apart as they get fairly large. Their height is about 12-18 inches. Keep small plants such as Sundews far enough away to avoid competition. The crown of the plant should be at the surface or just barely covered with the soil mix. Keep moist, but not constantly soggy. After transplanting and during hot, sunny weather, the plant may wilt a bit, but this is seldom serious. Many hundreds of tiny seeds are produced after blooming, so if you don't want many self-sown seedlings, remove the flower stalk before seed ripens. The seed must be on the surface to germinate and requires very cold stratification (seasonal freezing) to germinate. We do not fertilize our plants, but if you experience sluggish growth, you can try some Miracid fertilizer at 1/2 strength, once or twice a year. Usually, this is not needed. The plant dies down in the winter and dead old growth should be trimmed away from Dec.-Feb. for best appearance. We are not sure what the cold tolerance of this species is yet, but it appears to be very cold tolerant, to at least USDA Zone 6. In far northern climates, a winter mulch of pine needles will probably help.
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