Dictionary of Flowers: Anagallis (Pimpernell)

Stunning blue Anagallis (Pimpernell) grows really well in containers. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tico and Flickr

Stunning blue Anagallis (Pimpernell) grows really well in containers. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tico and Flickr

  • Anagallis 
  • Common name: pimpernel
  • Family: Primulaceae
  • Category: Tender perennial, used as an annual. Frost sensitive. Perennial in USDA zones 9-11
  • Height: 4" to 12", depending on species
  • Width: 12" to 18", depending on species
  • Sun/part shade
  • Blooms: summer to frost
  • Growth habit: mounding, spreading. Used as a spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average, neutral, well drained, sandy. Water regularly if grown in containers; never allow the container to dry completely.
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, front of border, rockery plant, edging plant
  • Diseases: few, disease resistant
  • Pests: aphids

Anagallis is a genus of plants native to the Mediterranean region. Blue pimpernel (anagallis monellii) and the new hybrid species have become popular in the last few years as great container plants.

They produce flowers up to one inch in diameter in a very vibrant and intense gentian blue shade, with a reddish center, and also bright orange flowers with a blue center. 

They don't require deadheading and bloom from summer to frost. A full sun position encourages the plant to bloom more.

The plant's foliage is green and doesn't decline during the growing season. Anagallis can be a good alternative container plant to lobelia, being more heat resistant and less likely to decline during the hottest part of the growing season. 

Anagallis is known as "poor man's weather glass", as the flowers close during rainy weather.

They can be grown from seed, cuttings or bought as container starts in nurseries.

If grown from seed, start indoors from late winter to early spring, at least eight weeks before the last frost date.

The seeds need to be pressed down on top of moist seed starting medium.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

They need light to germinate, so don't cover them with soil. They are somewhat slow to germinate. Germination can take anywhere between 18 to 30 days.

Keep the containers warm (65-70°F), covered in plastic. Once the seedlings emerge, remove plastic and lower the temperature to 60°F. When the seedlings are big enough to transplant, move them to larger containers being careful not to disturb the roots.

Harden off before transplanting to the garden or containers, after all danger of frost has passed. 

They can be grown from seed outdoors in warmer areas. Wait to plant the seeds outdoors until there is no danger of frost.

Plants grown from seed will start blooming in July. Pinch back tips when the plants are young to encourage bushy growth. Fertilize with a liquid formula during summer months.

To propagate, softwood cuttings can be taken during summer and early fall. It can take up to four weeks to root, using rooting powder.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

When grown as perennial plants, clumps can be divided in spring. Plants grown outdoors can be brought inside during winter months in areas where anagallis is not perennial.

They need bright light and less watering to prevent root rot when grown indoors in winter. 

Popular varieties:

  • Anagallis monellii 'Skylover' series – different shades of blue
  • Anagallis monellii 'Blue Bird'
  • Anagallis hybrid 'Wildcat’ series – orange and blue varieties

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Anagallis (Pimernell) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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