Plant of the Month for January 2015

Gentiana verna, in the wilds of the Pyrenees.
Gentiana verna

Description and General Information:

Gentiana verna is a low, tufted plant, 7.5 centimeters high.  The leaves form a basal rosette.  The deep blue flowers are solitary and nearly stemless.  They vary from 2 to 3 centimeters across.

Gentiana verna is a wide-ranging species which occurs on most mountain ranges throughout Europe and east through central Asia to Mongolia.  In the wild, it occurs both on limestone and acidic-based soils.  It grows in open meadows, among dwarf heaths and even open woodlands, from the sub-alpine to the alpine zone.


Gentiana verna is not easy in cultivation.  Plants require full sun in open positions.  It requires well-drained conditions but needs even moisture.  It does not like stretches of hot, dry weather. Some authorities suggest growing this species in close proximity to other neighbouring alpines such as Primula, Globularia and Phyteuma. It does not seem fussy in regards to soil pH.

Blooming Period:

April in the south to June the north


Seeds, cuttings, division


Sow @ 20°C for 6 weeks, then place @ 4°C for 6 weeks, then slowly raise temperature to 10°C for 6 weeks. If there is no germination, repeat the cycle. This mimics fall sowing outdoors for spring germination. Seeds require darkness for germination.  Older seed may be coaxed with GA3, bypassing the need for warm-cold cycling.


May be done after flowering.


Shoot tips may be taken in mid-summer and rooted in a shaded coldframe.


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