Problems Growing Gentians


Gentian Acaulis

The flower that is most evocative of mountain scenery must be the the Gentian with its alpine associations. Gentians make me blue in the face because I fail every time I try to grow these sumptuous blue flowers.

Here are some of the reasons I have failed: –

  • Gentians are known to be difficult to transplant .
  • When seed is sown, it should be fresh or it will not germinate & grow.
  • All Gentians prefer partial shade for at least some of the day.
  • The Fringed Gentiana is a biennial variety which is extremely difficult to grow. I have been guilty of lumping all Gentians under one species as though it was a perennial, acid hating alpine. How wrong I was each variety needs to be understood in its own right.

  • I have failed to provide adequate drainage, most Gentians need gritty alpine conditions
  • The Closed Gentiana may be grown in moist meadows but have no lime in the soil.
  • Winter sow in coldframe or unheated greenhouse with ventilation
  • The Gentianella is an easy sort to grow requiring limestone added to the soil.

Growing Gentians in the Future

I am keen to try again and will be taking help from The Alpine Garden Society who list over 60 species and varieties in there Seed List 2009 from a reputed 400 species from within the genus.  I will start with seeds of the Asiatic species which are fiercely lime hasting G. sino-ornata has been recommended and I will shade these plants near my Rhododendrons and see what happens. Seeds are also available in bulk from or in more modest quantities of gentian blue colours from Thompson & Morgan


Some other species include Gentiana verna the spring gentian grown from seed. Gentiana farreri autumn flowering and more soil tolerant. Hybrids G. Macaulay or G. Inverleith seem to be both strongly recommended.

Gentians by jarikir CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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