19 September 2009

New Cup Flower - Nierembergia Augusta Blue Skies

Oh how I love blue and purple flowers. And, it turns out you do, too. Blue and purple flowers are the most popular in the nursery trade. Go figure. I would have guessed pinks and reds would win the popularity contest.

Nierembergia technical information from U Wisconsin's site
"...native to Argentina, is named for Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, a 17 century Spanish Jesuit theologian and naturalist. The taxonomy of this genus (in the potato family or Solanaceae) is rather confused, so the species for cupflower may be listed as caerulea, frutescens, hippomanica or scoparia. It grows neat, spreading mounds about 12-15 inches across. The fine textured foliage is produced on multiple stems, with stiff, linear leaves to one-half inch long. "

So, the lovely lavender.purple.blue flower in the photo is Nierenbergia Augusta Blue Skies from Proven Winners.

Ball says, "According to an online survey of its fan club, Proven Winners found that purple is by far its end consumers' favorite color."

Better Homes and Gardens online calls the flowers "adorable" and I wonder if you think they are adorable.

It can be a perennial in zones 7 to 10. Grows to 10-inches tall though I have mine in a planter.
Easy, attracts butterflies.

Also from the U Wisconsin site

"Start Nierembergia from seed sown indoors 8-10 weeks before your date of average last frost. Barely cover the seed; it should germinate within 2-3 weeks at 70°F. Keep moist until emergence, then the plants can be kept on the dry side. Young plants grow very slowly, but grow more quickly once transplanted. Transplant outdoors 6-12 inches apart (after hardening off) just before last frost date in moist, organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Mulch to help retain moisture and keep the soil cool. Plants are drought tolerant once established. Stem cuttings can be taken in late summer to hold the plants over the winter.

There are only a few varieties commonly available:
Mont Blanc is a profuse bloomer with brilliant white flowers on plants only 6 inches high that spread to 12 inches wide. The small cup-shaped flowers face upwards. It was an All-America Selection winner in 1993, and reportedly has better heat tolerance than the species.

Purple Robe has blue-violet flowers. The plants are about 8 inches tall."

Augusta Blue Skies will only be available from Proven Winners dealers.

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