Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, December  2005

Gentiana sino-ornata  by Sam McEwen

GENTIANA SINO-ORNATA (Chinese; decorative), W. China, is without a doubt the finest autumn-flowering Gentian, the ease of its growth, its freedom of flowering, making it outstanding. It forms a central rosette of evergreen foliage from which radiate spreading stems which root freely at the nodes. It bears at the upturned ends, single royal blue trumpet shaped flowers of over an inch in diameter, the outside of which is striped with deep-blue and green yellow. 
The rules for its growth are simple; it needs good deep, lime free, soil and plenty of moisture, and is easily propagated by division. Many variations now exist - a pale blue form, an early flowering form and a white-flowered form.
Jean & I have several forms of Gentian in our alpine area, including the pale blue and the white - our soil seems to suit them. When we were on holiday in Switzerland last summer - we saw several Gentians growing wild in the Swiss Alps. (We have pictures to prove it!)