Many people commented on my GBBD post about the Gentian. I’ve never grown this particular plant in my garden. I picked it up the other day while shopping for Pansies at Lowes. I was immediately attracted to the compact shape & large blue flowers so I bought three. The tag stated that it was a annual but after much research I noted that it could be a perennial in my zone 7b garden. It is supposibly hardy in zones 6-9. The Gentiana is a genus of the Gentian family which consists of 400 species of plants. It occurs in temperate climates of Asia, Europe & the Americas. This species consists of annuals, biennials & perennials. Some of them are evergreen. The flowers are usually a deep blue but can come in other colors. Blue is the color prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere while red is dominant in the Andes & the white is more common in New Zealand. They prefer a well drained soil that is rich in humus & part shade-full sun conditions. The species has been documented as far back as 180 BC and the roots were used medicinally in tonics. Gentian is also used in flavoring such as bitters and the softdrink “Moxie” as noted in Wikipedia. According to Botanical, “The name of the genus is derived from Gentius, an ancient King of Illyria (180-167 B.C.), who, according to Pliny and Dioscorides, discovered the medicinal value of these plants. During the Middle Ages, Gentian was commonly employed as an antidote to poison. Tragus, in 1552, mentions it as a means of diluting wounds.” All in all a interesting plant with a long history of use in the garden.
The history of Gentian: a medicinal plant