Pet Scribbles: Lithodora: Evergreen and Electric Blue Radiance

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lithodora: Evergreen and Electric Blue Radiance

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers


May 24, 2013 update: 
As this post continues to be one of my most popular, I just added new images to my blog to show how our Lithodora looks one year later. The link is at the bottom of this post!

So many of you enjoyed my post about Candytuft, that I decided to offer you another plant recommendation for your gardens: Lithodora.

I had never heard of Lithodora before we moved here to our furrever home, and in fact when I first saw it at a garden nursery assumed it was the annual flower Lobelia.

the difference between Lobelia and Lithodora
Both Lobelia and Lithodora have masses of
tiny flowers that provide quite a show of blue.

I was told by the nursery that Lithodora can handle our hot and humid southern New Jersey shore Summers, that it will bloom profusely all Summer long, and that it was an evergreen perennial. That's all I needed to hear to convince me to buy two pots for our front garden bed. That was back in 2008 - our first Spring in our new home - hard to be believe that was four years ago already! Having the hindsight of the past four years, I can share with you the realities of what this plant does and doesn't do.

Lithodora blooms profusely in the Spring. The electric blue blossoms are tiny but pack a big punch all together in full bloom. Our Lithodora is blooming much earlier this year than in past years, definitely due to the lack of a real Winter, but usually it is a mid-Spring blooming flower.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Yes, that is a baby Monarch butterfly keeping me company!

Lithodora is an evergreen perennial.
Lithodora maintains its green foliage year-round. Of course when there's several inches of snow on the ground, it doesn't matter. But this year, with the warm Winter, it was nice to have some green.

Lithodora is a groundcover. At least that's how I like to think of it. It spreads almost on top of the bed, winding its way slowly, never too agressively: it spreads in a behaved way.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
There was also a bumblebee enjoying the blue flowers,
but he just didn't want his picture taken!

Lithodora is a tougher plant that it seems.
Pay attention to this section because this is where I differ from the experts.

  • Lithodora doesn't flower profusely all Summer long, at least not here. And that's ok once you know that, right? But imagine how bummed out I was expecting the blooms to last and last. After I got over it eventually had to let it go, I came upon the next difficulty . . .
  • Lithodora needs lots of water in its first year of planting, and even with all that water it will just sort of shrink up in the worst heat and humidity. In fact, last Summer most of the Lithodora looked like it had turned dark brown and died. So I ripped it all out. Well, it grew back! In the early Fall, we noticed a few small shoots, and by mid-Fall we had a few of those amazing electric blue blooms and a fairly healthy looking plant. 

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Purchased another pretty Lithodora, which is called "Grace Ward."

Because of our mild Winter, the Lithodora bounced back completely, as you can see in the image below. And so I purchased another one to try again. Here's hoping they just keep growing and spreading!

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Newly planted on the left, and hopefully will make friends with the other one!

Details:


  • This hardy perennial is perfect in Zones 6-8, but I've also seen nursery catalogs that claim this is hardy down to and including Zone 5, and up to and including Zone 10 and 11. I'm in Zone 7.
  • Needs full sun to bloom, not much water - however - watch out during dry spells and high Summer heat and humidity.
  • May or may not bloom all Summer long - my guess is it depends where you are located.
  • Evergreen - keeps its green foliage color all Winter long.
  • Spreading groundcover - looks pretty in front of borders, and spilling over rocks and walls in gardens.
  • Likes soil on the acid side.

Lithodora: Evergreen Perennial with Electric Blue Flowers
Looks so pretty spreading onto the rock wall.

What do you think? Will you give Lithodora a try? Do you already grow it and love it?

Let me know in the comments!

May 24, 2013 update: Click here to see how these gorgeous blue perennial flowers look one year later!

~Laura

14 comments:

  1. Think I will try to find this, Love blue in the garden

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    1. Glad to hear it! You should be able to find it at Lowe's and Home Depot, in addition to any garden centers - I've seen it at both places. :)

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  2. I live in Cornwall UK and saw the Heavenly blue variety just had to have it. The saleswoman said i would need to buy this special soil for it, so I did, its in a pot outside my back door. Hope it does well. Didnt realise it could spread. Will try getting some shoots later in the season and try to spread it around, obviously will have to place it in the right soil.
    love Karen

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    Replies
    1. Hi Karen - I think the Heavenly blue variety is so lovely! Yes, Lithodora spreads, but not aggressively which is nice. There are shoots that spread almost above the ground, making me wonder how they even do that...and then there are the wonderful underground shoots too. Hope you have luck with it. (Not sure why you needed a special soil, but then again I'm here in the US...)

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  3. Hi Laura, stopped by from Hometalk, these are so pretty!! I love the blue!! I'm taking notes to see if these might work in Chicago weather. I can't remember what zone I'm in, I'll have to look, but I would love to be able to use these. Thank you

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    1. It's the blue color that first jumped out at me too, Amy! And it keeps that color, doesn't fade! You should be able to grow them in Chicago, so let me know if you do! :)

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  4. I know I'm a year late in my comment here, but I just now seen this plant at Lowes and picked up 2.

    Thank you for your information about the moisture needs in the first year. I was wondering if that was my problem with one of them looking a bit rough.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Beth, if you just planted the Lithodora it is possible they're still adjusting to their new home. If one looks rough, give it some water but also give it some time too. It might just need more time to get situated. They are surprisingly tough little guys. As I mentioned in my post above, I thought part of ours had died off, so I ripped it out - only to see it grow back full and lush! :)

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  5. REPOSTING THIS COMMENT THAT GOT FORMATTED ODDLY THE FIRST TIME AROUND

    Rebekah Nelson April 20, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    hello-l live in central California-Fresno area- and was wondering what plants l could plant around my lithodora that would be compatable and make a pretty display? any suggestions would be welcomed! -thanks from Janice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found a helpful website for you:

      Ten easy native plants for California gardens:

      http://www.laspilitas.com/groups/native-plants.html

      My best suggestion is to ask your local garden nurseries, as they will know best what will thrive in your climate and do well with Lithodora. :)

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  6. Hello, thank you for all the great information. I'm in the Sonoma County region of California and am new to planting, but I'd like to beautify my backyard. This is the first plant I've put back there. I'm curious about winter time care. I read that this plant will stay green all winter, but we do get into the 20's here. Do you have any idea if it will last through freezing temps? Should I bring it in in the winter or cover? Thanks for any advice you have :)

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    Replies
    1. I definitely don't suggest digging it up and bringing it inside in the Winter - that will probably disturb the plant too much. We had lots of snow this year, and sub-zero temps which we normally don't get, and I was pretty worried about ours surviving. It definitely didn't stay green, more like a lovely (not) black. However, I was VERY happy to see that when I cleaned the leaves away, there are some green spots peeking out, so I think it should bounce back nicely. I plan on writing another post about it, as I figure out what will happen! :) Let me know how yours is doing!

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  7. One of my friend sent me three pots of lithodora. Thank you for your information, just what I wanted. Do you know is it suitable to plant on about 30 degree slop? - jinshan

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Jinshan. I don't know if it's suitable for a slope - but I don't see why it wouldn't work! Good luck!

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