Favorite Blue Flower Bulbs--TOW

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Tue, 16 Nov 2004 16:59:16 PST
Well, here is my list of favorite blue flowers. I had a phase where I 
was on the lookout for any "true blue" flowers, so even though some 
flowers have slight amounts of purplishness of violet in them and still 
seem blue, I became something of a purist in my search. Even so, some 
of the flowers in his list still may have traces of lavender or purple 
or pale reddishness in them, but they made the list because they were 
so compelling.

At the end I've added another list for a related color that has so few 
flowers of that shade that I doubt Mary Sue will even need to bother to 
have a Topic of the Week for it. Nevertheless, the color is so stunning 
that it merits a small list somewhere for reference' sake. That would 
be the color I'm going to call teal. Also known as cyan or blue-green, 
and aqua or aquamarine at the green end of its range and turquoise at 
the blue end of its range.

True blue:

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus
What can I say? Of all the blue flowers I've grown this one reigns 
supreme. Not only is it the bluest flower I've grown, it is also the 
most intense hue of blue I've grown. Luckily, it grows almost without 
care in my southern California climate. I've mentioned before that I 
can grow it basically exactly like I do Cape bulbs from South Africa.

Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'
This is very easy to grow and such nice shade of blue. I think it's the 
best colored of the blue Ipheion/ I. uniflorum cultivars. At peak bloom 
a pot will be covered with creamy sky blue flowers.

Bearded Iris - various cultivars, all shades of blue
I can't think of any named cultivars at the moment, but there are many. 
Some may not be completely true blue, but they're close enough and come 
in shades from dark to very pale.

Lycoris sprengeri buds
I had to put this in here after flowering these things. The blue is so 
electric that you can't help but notice it. And when it is in bud, the 
bluer bulbs look almost completely neon blue. If someone can breed a 
pure blue one of these, it will have to be placed on the list of top 5 
blue flowers of all time.

Aristea ecklonii
I love this in flower under trees when it is grown well en masse. Lots 
of small sparkling blue stars amidst a deep green field of leaves.

Cypella coelestis (syn. Phalocallis coelestis, Cypella plumbea)
This one isn't completely true blue, but is such a ghostly stunning 
color of sky blue with a hint of lavender when seen in person that it 
has to go on the list.

Nemastylis geminiflora
I couldn't believe that a native to the central Texas hill country 
where I grew up could be so pretty and so blue. I don't know why I 
never saw this until last summer.

Scilla lingulata
The strain that Harold Koopowitz brought to one of Cathy Craig's 
get-togethers was a wonderful shade of blue. I guess the blueness can 
vary fairly widely.

Zephyra elegans
I've never seen this one in person, but a photo I saw made me want to 
grow this one.

Meconopsis betonicifolia "Himalayan Blue Poppy"
I don't think this is a geophyte. However, after finally getting to see 
an entire bed of these in bloom at Butchard Gardens in Victoria, 
British Columbia, Canada, it also must go on the list of top 5 blue 
flowers of all time. Why, oh why must it require such a cool summertime 
climate to grow in...?

I don't know the species, and I don't know if it's a geophyte, but I 
know that some Delphiniums are geophytes, so I decided to list this 
because the plants I bought from an ordinary nursery were so true blue 
that it has to go on some list of true blue flowers.


Lachenalia viridiflora
A stunning color and a very showy Lachenalia.

Ixia viridiflora
Everyone just stops and stares at this Ixia when it is in bloom. I have 
trouble keeping this one going from year to year on an ongoing basis.

Most people don't believe the above two bulbs' flowers are real or 
natural when they first view them. Most likely because they've never 
seen anything this color in nature, at least in the plant kingdom.

None of the following are geophytes. But they're the only other flowers 
I've discovered so far that fall within this color range. They all look 
unreal when you first see them.

Puya alpestris
Puya berteroniana
I've only personally seen these in photographs. But I have plants now, 
so I just have to wait until I get them to flower.

Strongylodon macrobotrys
Also known as the Jade Vine. A true tropical vine and will not survive 
temperatures below 40 deg. F. However, I finally saw one in bloom and 
it is truly a stunning looking flower. Huge racemes of large pea-shaped 
flowers hanging from the vines in the most unusual shade of teal green 
you've ever seen.

Jane McGary has said the following:
"Several gentians are this color, the most familiar being Gentiana 
glauca, a
plant of high latitudes and altitudes."
I've never seen the flowers nor photographs, but include it here to 
make a more complete listing.

And finally a year ago while visiting Kew Gardens, I saw another teal 
green flower in the famous main tropical greenhouse. It appeared to me 
to be in the same family as what I've known as "Shrimp Plants" 
(Justicia brandegeana and Pachystachys lutea). I've seen the red and 
yellow flowered versions before. But try as I could, I could not find a 
label or anything identifying it. I do have a photo of it, however.

These are all I've been able to find in this color range.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena area, California, USDA Zone 9-10

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