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Houstonia Cœrulea - Hardy Perennial

Author: John Wood

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Houstonia Cœrulea Described.

Houstonia Cœrulea - Houstonia Coerulea - Bluets; Nat. Ord. Gentianaceæ.

Hardy and evergreen. This pretty little shining plant never exceeds a height of 3in. Like most species of this order, both flowers and foliage have much substance and endure for a long time in perfection, but its neat form and bright parts most commend it—it almost sparkles in both leaf and flower. This species, as implied by the specific name, bears a blue flower, but there is a variety (H. c. alba or H. albiflora) which bears white flowers, from a specimen of which the illustration is drawn, and, as the colour of the flower is the only dissimilarity, a description of the typical form will in all other respects apply to both.

The flowers, which are produced singly on slender stems 2in. high, are composed of a four-toothed calyx; corolla, four petals, or four-toothed and funnel-shaped; when fully expanded each flower is ½in. across, and shows a distinct yellow eye. The leaves of the root are spathulate, those of the stems opposite and lanceolate; all the parts are shown of the natural size in the illustration.

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Houstonia Cœrulea

All the known Houstonias are natives of North America; still, our winters seem to kill strong plants. From an impression that the plants were destroyed by insects amongst their roots and foliage, I had several tufts lifted, well shaken out, and divided in the autumn; they were replanted in leaf soil and sand and kept rather moist. When planting them, all amongst the roots was thickly strewn with dry silver sand, so as to leave no space for the lodgment of vermin; the results were fine, fresh, green tufts throughout the following winter, which, however, was not severe; still, the plants not so treated dwindled and were unhealthy, whereas the others were finely in bloom, the subject of the drawing being one of them. These minute plants do well and look well wedged between large stones on rockwork, where they flower nearly all the year round; they also form pretty pot specimens under cold frame treatment; and they may be used with good effect for surfacing the pots in which other hardy but tall and bare stemmed things—such as lilies—are grown.

The mode of propagation has been indicated by the above autumnal treatment.

Flowering period, April to July.

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