Growing Guide
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Italian Bugloss

Herbaceous Perennial or Biennial Flower

Also known as Italian Alkanet
Anchusa azurea
Boraginaceae Family
Synonym: Anchusa italica

This biennial or short-lived perennial has bright blue flowers that resemble forget-me-nots on 4-foot-tall plants. Because the foliage is not very attractive, it is best used in the back of the border.

Site Characteristics
  • full sun
May tolerate part shade.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers rich, well-drained soil. Doesn't tolerate excessive moisture in winter.

Hardiness zones:

  • 3 to 8
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: biennial, perennial

Biennial or short-lived perennial. Cut back to crown immediately after flowering to increase longevity.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult

Short-lived without regular pruning and division.

Height: 3 to 5 feet

Spread: 1.5 to 2 feet

Bloom time:

  • early summer
  • mid-summer
  • late summer

Flower color:

  • blue
  • violet

Blue to purplish-blue.

Foliage color: dark green

Foliage texture: coarse

Shape: upright

Shape in flower: flower stalks with upright spikes

Flowers are borne in panicles on erect stems.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • aggressive - Self-seeds readily and may become weedy, especially in rich soils.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to the Mediterranean
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed, cuttings, division or separation - Root cuttings are most successful propagation method. In early spring, make 2- to 3-inch long cuttings (at least .5-inch in diameter). Plant horizontally in well-drained soil.

Sow seeds directly in the garden bed in either spring or fall. Hybrids will not come true from seed.

Maintenance and care:
Keep watered in dry weather, but do not overwater as plants will rot in wet soil.

May require staking, especially in rich soils. Cut back spent flower stems to encourage more bloom.

Self-seeds readily. Deadhead to prevent self-seeding.

To increase the longevity of this short-lived perennial, cut back to the crown after flowering, and divide plants every two or three years.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

Aster yellows
‘Dropmore’: 3- to 4-foot plants with deep blue flowers.

‘Little John’: dark blue flowers on 1.5-foot plants.

‘Loddon Royalist’: 3- to 4-foot plants with vivid blue flowers.

‘Opal’: pastel blue flowers on leggy 4-foot plants.