bottle gentian

Gentiana andrewsii (bottle gentian) is a perennial plant that can bring to a garden the one-two punch of aesthetic beauty and ecological value.

The spectacular rich blue colored flowers reaching up to 1.5 inches in length and occurring clustered at the top of the plant within the leaf axils make great pops of color interest in the late summer-to-fall garden.

This member of the Gentianaceae is native to North America from the Dakotas to the east coast, including Illinois. Plants can grow up to 2 feet in height and reach 1.5-2 feet width with a sprawling habit. This growth habit makes the bottle gentian perfect for naturalizing in your garden. You will get the most from bottle gentian when plants are grown in moist, rich, slightly acidic soils; however, the species is adaptable to most organic-rich garden soils.

Viewing bottle gentian in the garden, many people assume the bottle-shaped flowers will open soon to display a full flower. However, bottle gentian flowers never fully open and remain closed or mostly closed. The flowers are highly attractive to honeybees and native bumblebees, the latter of which are strong enough to open and enter the partially-closed flowers of this gentian where an ample nectar reward awaits.

Botanical Name Gentiana andrewsii
Common Name bottle gentian
Family Gentianaceae
USDA Zone 3 thru 7
Light Requirement Full Sun to Part Shade
Season(s) of interest summer, fall, winter
Height and Spread 1-2ft x 1-1.5ft (30-60cm x 30-45cm)
Flower Color Blue
Attracts Wildlife Attracts Pollinators, Rarely Browsed by Mammalian Herbivores
Additional Information Native to Chicago Region. Pollinated almost exclusively by native bumblebees.
Location in Lurie Garden Southeast Light Plate, Southwest Light Plate, Northeast Light Plate, Northwest Light Plate

Average Flowering Time