True Blues by Kenton Neuhouser


Two outstanding plants are in flower now with a bright blue blossom. I know many gardeners are skeptical when they hear the word “blue” used in the garden center. Blue is an extremely uncommon color in nature, but very sought after – possible due in part to the cool relaxing feeling the color creates. Many flowers described as blue turn out to be much closer to a purple shade (some Delphinium and Iris varieties aside). Customers are also sometimes disappointed with foliage plants like some Hosta varieties described as “blue” looking more like a grayish-green at best. Some mail-order catalogues even “colorize” the pictures to make blues even more tempting. In my opinion, the two following plants have the truest clear blue flowers:

LEADWORT (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a stunning perennial with loads of small brilliant blue flowers from August thru frost! The foliage is also outstanding in the fall, turning bright red/maroon. It only grows 6-10″ tall and spreads to 12″ in sun or part-shade. Use Leadwort as an accent to your perennial garden, in mass as a ground cover, or for edging a bed.

BLUE MIST SPIREA (Caryopteris) is not a Spirea at all, but is a dynamic small shrub growing only 2′ in sun or part-shade. The fragrant, feathery blue blossoms contrast beautifully with the silvery foliage and attract both butterflies and Hummingbirds! They look their best if trimmed half way back each fall or spring.