Updated: Jul 4, 2021
This time of the year here in the US gets everyone thinking about colors. Three colors in particular, I feel, red, white, and blue. There’s something so deeply felt when it comes to patriotism. However, I feel that red and white are easy colors to come by. Red is one of the most prominent colors in flowers due to plant symbiosis with pollinators. White is a frequently found and sought after color (hello, moon garden!). When it comes to blue, though, I feel like this is a generally hard to find and not commonly used color in the garden. Personally, my favorite color is blue. I’m also the type of gardener who loves lots of colors but not necessarily putting my warm colors with my cool colors. For me, that‘s where blue comes into the garden. Blue is a color in the garden that seems to go with every other color, providing breaks and cooling down warm tones, and tying together your cool tones. I’m going to go over some of my favorite blue plants, some quick facts about them, and why I like them.
Category is... blue flowers. Blue flowers are fairly rare in nature, caused by a pigment called delphininidin. Only around 10% of flowering plants are blue in color, and it’s usually not even a true blue. Many times blue coloring is purple based, lavender based, green based, or it can even be red based. Obviously this gives us a wide range of color variation, so finding the perfect blue for your situation might be difficult.
Salvias are one of the largest plant genus’ that exists. There are nearly 1,000 plants that are apart of this genus. Obviously I’m not going to break down all 1,000 plants to talk about, but the majority of the genus has the pigment to create blue and purple flowers. I do want to touch on a few species that do particularly well for us. In general, all salvias do pretty great. They’re performer plants, big showoff’s. They generally tolerate drought and poor soil, and don’t need high amounts of fertilizer. They do perform better in circumstances where it’s “ideal” (good soil, proper moisture, occasional fertilizer).
~Walter’s Garden Inc. Salvia nemorosa “Violet Riot”
Salvia nemorosa, also called meadow sage, is a prolific bloomer. Blooming in long flushes throughout the year, this perennial comes in many different varieties, along with colors. Purple is the most common, but there is also white, light blue, pinks, and medium blues. They attract all kinds of pollinators but honeybees and hoverflies particularly love them. They are generally zones 3-8. They enjoy full sun, shade will cause them to flop over. This salvia enjoys semi-frequent moisture, and loose soils.
Salvia greggii is another native salvia to the Texas area. This salvia species has some of the widest range of colors, including white, apricot, coral, red, yellow, bicolored, purple, blue, and pink. Salvia greggii’s typically grow into sub-shrubs, generally getting about 2-3’ tall and wide. They bloom all throughout the season, and in mild winters, they bloom through the winter! They are also evergreen and extremely tolerant of poor soil and drought. Hummingbirds, as well as bees and butterflies love this plant. They are generally zones 7-9.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Salvia farinacea. ”Victoria Blue”
Salvia farinacea, also called blue mealy or mealycup sage, is a native perennial to Texas. It is one of my top perennial performers, blooming from April until frost, with one deadheading midsummer. This one comes in blue, purple, and white, and is also a great pollinator attractor. I frequently spot large bumblebees and solitary native bees enjoying the plentiful nectar. Depending on variety, they come in small sizes to large sizes, ranging from 1’-5’. This one is less hardy and frequently used as an annual in colder zones, but is reliably perennial in zones 8-11. Extremely drought tolerant. Needs well draining soil but tolerates poor and sandy soils.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Salvia gargantua “Black and Blue”
Salvia gargantua is a large salvia, generally growing at least 3’ tall and wide. Here in the warm, long growing seasons of the south, ours typically grow at least 5’ tall and wide. I’ve seen plenty of established ones that are taller than a person. These appreciate a bit more water, and more fertile soil, but the bold, tropical leaves and blooms provide a huge statement in the garden. An absolute favorite for butterflies and large bees, these bloom early summer until fall with no deadheading. They come in several colors, including blue, purple, and pink. These are generally zones 7-11.
Salvia lyrata is another native salvia. This salvia likes shady areas and behaves like a groundcover. It blooms in the spring, and spreads mostly by seed. It has unique, low growing foliage that typically has burgundy markings, giving it year round interest. It comes in blues and white. They are generally zones 6-9.
~Walter’s Garden Inc. Nepeta “Purrsian Blue”
Catmint, also called nepeta, is an outstanding perennial to add to your garden. Coming in mostly blues and purples, this perennial will bloom in flushes all year long. It’s very drought tolerant, and it’s blooms attract all manners of pollinators, even hummingbirds. This plant is usually a lower grower that spreads out wider than it is tall. This perennial is generally zones 3-8, and in warm climates it is evergreen. It usually has a nice, silvery blue foliage, making it seem blue even without the blooms!
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Agastache “Blue Fortune”
Hyssop, agastache, hummingbird mint. These are all generally in reference to one of the greatest perennials you can own! Agastache is a wonderful plant that blooms early summer until frost, and is one of the top pollinator plants in my garden. It is constantly swarmed by dozens of honeybees, as well as hoverflies, lacewings, butterflies, wasps, bumble bees, solitary native bees, and many others. As it’s name suggests, it is also visited by hummingbirds, making this one of the most versatile pollinator plants you can have in your garden. It sends up hundreds of long lasting blooms a year, and I deadhead mine once a season, for the sake of tidiness, and this plant will go until frost! It has lovely, licorice smelling foliage, and it comes in blues, purples, oranges, yellow, reds, burgundy, and many other colors. This plant is incredibly drought tolerant and also tolerates poor soil of all kinds, though it prefers sandy or well drained soil. This plant is typically hardy in zones 5-10, though it may vary by variety. Always check the tags.
Pansies and Violas:
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Pansy mix.
Pansies and violas are closely related, and are almost quintessentially associated with early spring and frosty evenings. These plants are extremely cold tolerant, which is why here in the south they’re planted in the winter time to be enjoyed as cool weather annuals! Violas can be reliable perennials, self seeding in shadier areas. Wood violets are native to most of the USA. They come in a wide range of colors now, but wild varieties are almost always blue, purple, or yellow. They have a sweet scent that is one of my favorite smells.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Gregg’s Mist Flower
Mist flowers are a small genus notated as conoclinium. These flowers are blue or purple, and are native to southern USA and Mexico. My personal favorite, and a favorite of Monarch butterflies, is Gregg’s Mist Flower. This native may start blooming as early as beginning of summer, but is generally more of a fall bloomer. It is an aggressive spreader, so make sure it has plenty of space to grow and that you’re willing to pull out any starts you don’t want! This is a huge pollinator plant, attracting all kinds of pollinatora, especially butterflies and moths.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Salvia yangii (formerly perovskia atriplicfolia) “Denim N’ Lace”
Russian Sage is a great plant if you want to add some blue to your garden. Not only does it have blue blooms, it also has silvery blue foliage. This plant blooms early summer, and some newer varieties will even rebloom. They hold their blue color very well, and pollinators really love the mass amounts of dainty blooms. This is a very drought tolerant perennial, tolerant of poor soil, and is extremely heat tolerant. It is generally zones 4-9.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Ohio Spiderwort
Trandescantia is a large genus, and trandescantia ohiensis is a native variety to most of the central and eastern US. This is a shade and moisture loving perennial, with a long bloom season of hundreds of tiny purple and blue flowers.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Ajuga “Chocolate Chip”
Ajuga is a great groundcover in lots of areas. Be careful where you plant it, as it may become aggressive in some climates, as with almost any plant. Here in the south, I think our heat really keeps it in check. It has a moderate growth rate, with fairly shallow roots that are super easy to pull out if its going somewhere you don’t want it. It plays well with all of my other perennials, and prefers shade here. It will tolerate some sun! In the spring, and sometimes even in the fall, it graces us with the prettiest blue flower stalks. Chocolate Chip is the best variety I’ve grown, as far as bloom power goes. Ours blooms very early, usually with the hellebores, and goes until April generally. It is evergreen, with very attractive foliage that typically comes in shades of green and bronze. It is drought tolerant and it is one of the earliest sources of nectar for pollinators.
~One Love Rose and Gardens, Lobelia erinus “Laguna Dark Blue”
Lobelia are a great blue plant to grow. They typically like cooler weather, so are more suited for northern areas. However, there are some native lobelias that have spring and early summer bloom times. Trailing lobelia is a great annual for cool weather containers.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Chinese Forget-Me-Nots, cynoglossum amabile
Chinese Forget-Me-Nots are a great annual to grow. Depending on when you sow them, they can bloom as early as Christmas, and go all the way through the year. They have a very delicate, light blue flower, and pair really well with other tall perennials and shrubs. They also make good cut flowers.
I would be in trouble if I didn’t mention hydrangeas! Hydrangeas are well known for being color changers depending on the pH of the soil. Unfortunately, in my area, our soil is very high alkaline so all of our pH dependent hydrangeas end up pink, no matter how hard I try! I can’t even get purple. To circumvent this, you may be able to get blue hydrangeas in pots, if you are consistently acidifying the soil and work hard at it! It’s important to note that not all hydrangeas change bloom color with pH. It is only certain varieties. Typically mophead and lacecap hydrangeas are going to be your color changers.
~One Love Rose and Gardens. Buddleia “Blue Chip Jr.”
Butterfly bushes are some of my favorite shrubs. The fragrance alone is enough for me to grow it. On top of that, they bloom all summer and attract lots of pollinators. They do have a tendency to become invasive if you don’t deadhead them frequently. They spread very easily by seed, and also by creating seeds, your bush will stop blooming. Fear not, because Proven Winner’s has the answer! Sterile butterfly bushes, which either don’t create seed at all or very little, don’t need deadheaded or any extended maintenance. They have also put out some dwarf sized butterfly bushes, so you can chose a range of sizes from 1-2’ tall and wide, all the way up to 6’ tall and wide. With a long bloom season, sweet fragrance, and drought tolerant, these are some great blue plants to add to your garden. They also come in a variety of other colors as well!
~Proven Winners. Vitex “Blue Diddley”
No blue flower list would be complete without vitex. These are beautiful shrubs/small trees that are frequently called Texas Lilac’s. Unfortunately, they are not native, and can be quite invasive. Once again, Proven Winner’s to the rescue! Blue Diddley is a dwarf vitex, only getting 3-6’ tall and wide. It has exceptional rebloom, since it is a mostly sterile variety. The blue and purple flowers are loved by pollinators of all kinds, and it is definitely a plant that makes a statement!
Other honorable mentions include:
Rose of Sharon
Blue Eyed Grass
Category is... blue foliage! Now, most “blue” foliage is on the silvery side. Blue foliage acts just like blue flowers for me, and helps cool off or tie together landscapes (I’m obsessed with blue! What can I say.) Some of these have other colored flowers, which is perfectly ok!