Dictionary of Flowers: Browallia (Bush Violet, Sapphire Flower)

Browallia is also known as Bush Violet and Sapphire Flower. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tim Waters and Flickr
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Browallia is also known as Bush Violet and Sapphire Flower. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Tim Waters and Flickr

  • Browallia
  • Common name: bush violet, sapphire flower
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Category: annual
  • Height: 12" to 18”
  • Width: 9" to 12”
  • Part shade
  • Blooms: late spring to early fall
  • Growth habit: bushy, mounding, trailing. Used as a filler or spiller in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: rich, moist, free draining. Water regularly if grown in containers. 
  • Garden uses: containers, hanging baskets, front of mixed border, houseplant
  • Diseases: wilt 
  • Pests: aphids

A native of South Africa, Browallia is a perennial grown as an annual in cold and temperate zones. It is available in nurseries as starter plants during spring, and also easy to grow from seed.

Browallia produces blue to blue-purple flowers up to two inches in size, with a white center. The flowers might appear in clusters.

It is a great alternative to impatiens, with similar light requirements (part shade to afternoon shade, to dappled shade), but with relatively more tolerance to less water.

It blooms continuously until frost. It is useful to fill gaps left by other annuals that don't do well in the heat of summer.

It prefers rich, humus-rich soil that is kept evenly moist. Water regularly when grown in containers. Pinch back regularly to keep the plant bushy.

Although it requires no deadheading, it self seeds easily.

The plants can be brought indoors in winter, and grown as houseplants in a bright light position. It can bloom while indoors.

Feed once a month with a balanced liquid fertilizer. When first planted, if needed, amend the soil with compost. If overfed, it won't produce as many flowers.

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

It is easily grown from seed. Sow seed indoors 8-10 weeks before last spring frost date. Press seed on moist seed starting medium; don't cover, as they need light to germinate. Seed kept at 70° F germinates in two weeks to a month.

When seedlings grow a few true leaves, pinch back to encourage branching and bushiness. Plant outdoors once all danger of frost has passed after hardening off for about a week.

Don't allow the plants to become root bound, as they can become stunted.

Plants can be purchased as starts in nurseries. 




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

It's not really bothered by pests, aside from aphids.

Slugs might be a problem in wet areas. It is also disease free if not stressed.

Wilt can occur. If affected by this virus, remove and discard plant.

Popular varieties:

  • Browallia speciosa 'Bell' series - medium to large blooms, smooth stems. Flowers can be blue, purple or white. Mounding, good for containers
  • Browallia hybrid 'Endless Illumination' - hybrid type, good for hanging baskets or to use as a spiller plant in containers
  • Browallia americana - blue flowers, tolerates more sun than other species
  • Browallia viscosa "Amethyst" - more drought tolerant than other browallias. Small purple flowers. Nice dark green leaves

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 Browallia (Bush Violet, Sapphire Flower) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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