FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Gentiana andrewsii is a sprawling perennial wildflower with lance shaped lustrous leaves. In late summer and autumn, foliage is topped by clusters of bottle shaped blue to violet flowers. The mature blooms look like large flower buds because they remain closed at the tip. Plants thrive in moist prairie type habitats or partly shaded gardens with moist rich soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Gentiana andrewsii occurs in eastern North America from Quebec, New Hampshire and south to Virginia. The range extends west to Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri.
This species is indigenous to moist Blackland prairies, damp meadows, open bottomland forests, moist thickets, fens, shores of streams and ponds and margins of swamps.
Plants usually occur in calcareous soils and are hardy from USDA Zones 3-6.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Gentiana andrewsii is a trailing tap-rooted perennial. Plants produce multiple unbranched stems that are smooth and green or purplish.
Leaves are opposite or whorled, ovate or lance shaped and sessile. Blades average 4.5” long and 2” wide. They are smooth, dark green and shiny with entire margins and parallel veins.
In late summer or autumn for about a month, clustered flower cymes appear at the stem tips and in the leaf axils. The individual flowers are about 1-1.5” long and are tinted in lovely shades of deep blue or violet. They are cylindrical with 5 overlapping petals marked with longitudinal ridges that impart a wrinkled appearance. The top of each bloom has interconnecting hairs that cause it to stay closed even at maturity.
After flowering, elongated capsules containing tiny seed form. At maturity, the seed are released and are dispersed by wind or water.
Plants grow 1-2’ tall with an equal spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Gentiana andrewsii prospers in partly shaded sites with moist humus rich soil. Plants tolerate clay, sandy or gravelly soils, seasonal wetness and circum-neutral pH in the slightly alkaline or slightly acid range.
Since plants are intolerant of drought and of climates with high night temperatures, they do not grow well in the Deep South.
This species is long lived, slow growing, pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Shade Garden, Rock Garden or moist Meadow. Gentiana andrewsii has Showy Blooms and is an appropriate Accent, Grouping or Mass Planting for Cottage Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings or Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Gentiana andrewsii with Andropogon gerardii, Aster novae-angliae, Liatris pycnostachya, Phlox pilosa, Physostegia virginiana or Veronicastrum virginicum.
It is difficult to recommend a substitute for this unique individual. Lobelia siphilitica might work in a pinch. The two plants have similar flower color, bloom time and comparable cultural needs.
TRIVIA: Since they are large and burly, bumblebees are able to force their way into the closed corolla and pollinate the flowers. Few other insects can forage in the blooms. Foliage and roots are bitter and generally not palatable to deer and other herbivores.
The generic name is for King Gentius of Illyria who used the plant to treat his troops for malaria. The specific epithet honors English botanical artist, Henry Andrews (1743-1820).
This plant is a No Advance Order plant, which means it is only available to order when the plant appears on our Availability and must be shipped within 2 weeks of ordering. We are more than happy to add you to a list to contact you when the plants become available. We cannot offer approximate dates of when the plants will be available next.