Blue for Valentines Day

No matter your mood, Valentines Day is the perfect time to think about adding color to your garden when (if) it finally warms up- you can order seeds or plants of your favorite flowers.

One of the long beloved ways of adding subtle color to the garden is with blue flowers.  Flowers that are actually blue are fairly uncommon- most that are called blue are really purple.  There are a few true blue flowers that are fairly easy to grow and their color is electrifying to look at.

If you planned ahead, this spring you should enjoy the beautiful blue flowers of scilla, an inexpensive little bulb that seeds itself everywhere if you are lucky, so that you can enjoy its little bluebells everywhere.  Only about 4 or 5 inches high, it is the perfect little bulb to plant around the base of a tree or bush that leafs out later in the year.  Scilla is a true blue, not a purple that horticulturalists call blue.

Another true blue is the Morning Glory “Heavenly Blue.”   If purchased from the right purveyor, it should produce gorgeous medium blue flowered trumpets, the color of the mid-morning sky in the spring.  (I’ve planted “Heavenly Blue” seeds that I suspect were really “Grandpa Ott’s,” so they are worth buying properly– I usually get mine from Jungs.)  These are twining plants and will grow up a trellis, but seem to prefer to grow up string– I grew a cascade of them on my north-facing porch a few years ago and they went absolutely crazy.  The downside of this morning glory is that it takes FOREVER for me to get it to bloom.  I usually have ripped it off the wall before it starts blooming– morning glories usually like to be planted in place and will only germinate when the soil is warm enough (some have described this as when the soil is warm enough to sit on with your bare bum, but I prefer to just use bare feet as my thermometer.)  If you can start them inside or in a greenhouse in a container, and dig a big enough hole that you don’t disturb the roots, you might be able to get away with just tipping them out of their pot and putting them in the warm ground and they may be none the wiser– and hopefully flower sooner.  Of course this would mean you’d have to stop testing the soil and get up and actually do this at least four weeks before last frost.

I have an unnamed sky blue delphinium that I purchased in the fire sale bin at ShopKo (of all places) years ago, and it is the most beautiful color- it’s really remarkable.  This also does well in my north-facing front garden.  I love all delphiniums, but as I have mentioned before, I really think they should be purchased in person.  And they can be tricky and floppy if they get wet and you don’t stake them.  They definitely seem to prefer being left alone as well, so don’t go moving them around.  I also have a darker, royal blue delphinium, that I ordered from a catalog, but even catalogs can get it wrong: its sister, the same package and variety, is more of a royal purple.

There are other blue flowers, many of which do not grow well for me in Zone 5A in slightly more alkaline soil: particularly hydrangeas.  My mother has a gorgeous hydrangea that she received for Mother’s Day from my sister a few years ago and in the acidic soils of Northern Wisconsin, in a sheltered location, it is SO blue that when I saw it I assumed that it was a fake plant thrown in the backyard.  If you live in acidic soil- you really should plant these lovely bushes.  My hydrangeas tend toward pink and purple if I’m lucky, but are still my favorite Japanese Beetle-resistant plants.

Blue can be good– even on Valentines day.

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