Downy Gentian stands out with its striking blue flowers in autumn. This is not a common plant, but does have a pretty wide range across the state. It prefers sunny conditions and well-drained soil that still manages to retain some moisture during summer. The flowers attract bumblebees and a few other pollinators. Bitter foliage usually
keeps this plant from being eaten by most animals.
Uses: Showy flowers, deer resistant, medicinal
Bloom time: September - November
Height: 8 to 18 inches
Space: 8 to 12 inches
Sun: Full sun to light shade
Moisture: Dry to average
Seed: The tiny, papery seeds are not the easiest to propagate and, after they germinate, they are slow to reach maturity. Your best bet may be to sow them outdoors in their permanent location sometime between December and February and hope for the best. They'll need light to germinate, so don't bury them. Our most recent successful attempt to propagate this species began by sowing fresh seed in late December (2019) into a shallow tray of germination medium. The tray was then kept refrigerated for about 5 months. The seeds, which were simply sown on the surface of the moist medium, germinated in about 10 days. We had put the tray in a bright germination greenhouse, but they did not receive harsh direct sunlight. The tricky part comes next: keeping the seedlings alive. They need moisture, but could damp off or rot if kept too wet. And if they get neglected on a hot day, the entire tray could dry up and all the seedlings will die. Gentians in general require a lot of attention to propagate from seed. The following seeding rates should yield 30 seeds per square foot (one source gives a range of 283,500 to 435,000 seeds per ounce, but most sources report 435,000 and we'll go along with the herd until we hear otherwise).
- Seeds per packet: at least 200
- Seeds per ounce: 435,000
- 1 ounce per 14,500 square feet (one-third of an acre!)