Dictionary of Flowers: Cerinthe (Blue Shrimp Plant, Honeywort)

Cerinthe (Blue Shrimp Plant, Honeywort): weird! Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of BathyPoreia and Flickr

Cerinthe (Blue Shrimp Plant, Honeywort): weird! Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of BathyPoreia and Flickr

  • Cerinthe
  • Common name: blue shrimp plant, honeywort
  • Family: Boraginaceae
  • Category: annual
  • Height: 24"
  • Width: 9" to 12"
  • Sun
  • Blooms: summer to early fall
  • Attracts: hummingbirds, bees, butterflies
  • Growth habit: upright. Grown as a filler or spiller in containers
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, moist, free draining. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, border
  • Diseases: generally disease free
  • Pests: aphids, generally pest free

An unusual looking annual from the Mediterranean region. It has blue-green foliage and blue bracts with purple flowers.

It produces large amounts of nectar, making it a good choice to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

Cerinthe prefers cooler nights to achieve the deep blue color of the bracts. It tolerates heat during summer and it is hardy down to around 30F. 

Cerinthe prefers fertile, humus rich soils that are kept moist.

It requires full sun or at least four hours of sun a day in cooler climates.In areas with hot summers, provide protection from afternoon sun.

Cerinthe can re-seed itself in the garden. 

It can act floppy when planted on the ground, so plant it around sturdier plants that might help to hold it up.

Fertilize once a month during summer with a balanced fertilizer

It can be cut back after flowering to encourage more flower production.

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

Cerinthe plants are not easy to find in nurseries, but they are easy to grow from seed. The large seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours prior to planting.

They can be direct sown in warm zones, but in colder zones or to give the plants a head start, indoor sow six to eight weeks before the last frost date.

Plant seed and cover with 1/4 of starting mix, cover with plastic. Kept at 65 to 85F, the seed sprouts in about two to three weeks.

When the seedlings sprout, remove plastic cover and maintain in a warm spot. Make sure it receives good light and water to keep moist, but not too wet.

Harden off, then transplant outside after danger of frost has passed when plants have grown to about four inches. Be careful not to disturb the roots too much.




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

Aphids can attack blue shrimp plant. Knock with a blast of water from the hose. Avoid using insecticides, as it might affect the bees that love to visit the plant.

Too much watering can produce root rot. Keep the soil moist, but not overly wet. Cerinthe is deer resistant.

Popular varieties:

  • Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens' - blue shrimp plant
  • Cerinthe minor 'Bouquet Gold' - yellow shrimp plant, yellow tubular flowers with leaves that are blue-green with white spots. Shorter than cerinthe major

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

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