Monday, August 1, 2016

Phacelia campanularia

Phacelia campanularia in my garden

Phacelia campanularia in Joshua Tree National Park

Phacelia campanularia with other wildflowers in Joshua Tree

Wildflowers in Joshua Tree near Cottonwood Springs with Phacelia campanularia (the blue flowers)

     I have been growing more and more annuals in my garden, mostly west coast natives, and one that I particularly like is Phacelia campanularia.  This is a California native,  found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.  While there are many Phacelias native to the west coast, and while I have not seen them all, of those that I am familiar with,  P. campanularia seems to me to be the most attractive.  It sports electric blue flowers, which, on a well grown plant, pretty much cover it, making it really pop in the landscape, as you can see from the images above of it growing in Joshua Tree National Park.   I have grown one other Phacelia, P. viscida, but I find campanularia to be the more attractive plant, both by reason of its flowers as well as its growth habit.  Viscida is not bad, but campanularia is better.  Also, viscida has proven to be a prolific self sower in my garden, so much so that some would call it a nuisance.
     I must make a confession here, though, and that is that so far I have not been very successful with this plant.  The one you see in the picture at the top that bloomed in my garden constitutes the sum total of my success with it.  I have come to the conclusion that this is because this plant does not really like to grow in pots, and when it is transplanted from a pot it never gets its roots properly established to perform well.  I have recently sown seeds of this and they readily germinate, given water, and so I am experimenting with how they do grown from seeds directly sown in the garden.  I will let you know how that goes.
     As for the growing conditions that Phacelia campanularia likes, I would guess that well drained soil in full sun would be best.  However, in order to get the plants going from seed, some water needs to be applied.  Since these are annuals, and since in their natural habitat they sprout, grow, flower and die in a very short time period, I think they probably can be sowed several times in our climate for successive flowerings.  My guess is that they would not appreciate a very humid climate, but this is only a guess. 
     Plants of this can be purchased from Annie's Annuals and I have also seen them at Xera Plants in Portland, Oregon.  Seeds can be gotten from Larner Seeds and Outside Pride.

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