Anagallis monellii : A New Favorite

pimpernel

Last fall we planted Anagallis monellii “Blue Pimpernel” in a bed of mixed flowers and herbs. This plant is neither edible or medicinal, but we hoped the bees would like its many blue flowers. Anagallis monellii is a Mediterranean native, so it is well suited to the California climate, and it follows that it does not need much water. It is perennial in zones 9 to 11 (that’s us), but can be grown as an annual elsewhere.

If you see Anagallis monellii without blooms, it is not much to look at. It’s a rangy, low-slung plant with uninteresting foliage. What it excels at is blooming.  I believe it comes in a few colors, but “Blue Pimpernel” makes 1″ flowers in a rich gentian blue with magenta eyes, and it makes lots and lots and lots of them, so much so that you can’t even see the foliage through the flowers. It’s insanely tough and cheerful, and the blue contrasts well with our profusion of volunteer California poppies and Calendula.

Basic factoids:  Grows about 10″ tall and spreads up to 20″,  low water, likes rich soil, blooms most in full sun, can be propagated from seed, self-sows. It blooms for a long time–spring through fall, in frosty climates, that is. We’ll see what it does here in the winter. We bought ours as seedlings from Annie’s Annuals, which is pricey but worth it, because the plants are beautiful, impeccably shipped, and never root bound!

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10 Comments

    • The bees visit, but not as enthusiastically as I hoped. :( Then again, they have a ton of choices right now.

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for these updates on lovely perennial flowers. I’m planting my (dry, neglected) front yard bit by bit with hardy drought tolerant flowers and it’s great to have more inspiration!

    • I haven’t had to deadhead them so far, and they’ve been blooming for a couple of months. I haven’t even noticed dead flowers so far. What is this wizardry??

  2. This plant is a powerhouse in my garden! at the end of the growing season, I trim off the spent branches and it comes back in the Spring like a champion. I just planted a second blue pimpernel in among my CA poppies.

  3. Beautiful! It will be an annual here. I hope to find some for my pots. It’s just a shade darker than the ceiling on my porch. Did you know that (supposedly) biting insects are attracted to blue ceilings? That’s why you see so many porches with blue ceilings in New England. I don’t think that the bugs leave the people sitting on the porch and fly up to the ceiling, but it’s a nice excuse for colorful paint.

  4. We have red pimpernel that came up randomly. Insects seem uninterested in the flowers (much smaller than your blue ones though). For blue bee attracting flowers nothing seems to beat borage. Self seeds like crazy and well suited to Mediterranean climates

    • You’re right, bees do love borage. It is a blessing and a curse. At this time of year, it’s all I can do to keep it from overrunning the garden. I’d be more stern about controlling it, but then I think of the bees, and I leave lots of it in place….to smother everything beneath! Flowers are tasty, though. In terms of blue flowered Mediterranean plants, I’ve noticed the bees really like rosemary flowers. And artichoke flowers, too.

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