Although they make good bedding plants, browallias are often grown in pots. Their purplish-blue, star-shaped blossoms are gorgeous and impossible to miss. We’ll teach you how to grow your own.
Get the browallia basics
Browallias combine well with other shade-loving plants, and give contrast of form and colour when grown beside tuberous begonias. The browallia palette also includes white-flowered plants.
In partial shade, their deep green, 2.5-centimetre-long (one inch) leaves form a tidy mound that spills over the edge of a window box, hanging basket, or whatever container you choose to plant them in.
Grow with confidence
The beauty of browallias is that they require very little fuss, but for the best results, keep the soil they grow in moderately moist and fertilize regularly. It’s easy to see when they’re in need: browallias quickly wilt when thirsty, and the leaves fade to a light green colour when they require fertilizer.
To keep plants green and in continuous bloom, provide containers with a weekly application of balanced fertilizer, such as a 20-20-20 formulation.
Browallias are not prone to insect problems other than occasional bouts of tiny, pear-shaped aphids, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap.
Get a better bounty
You can buy browallias as bedding plants in spring or easily grow them from seeds. Sow the seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost.
The seeds need light to germinate, so sprinkle them on the surface of a container filled with commercial seed-starting soil moistened lightly with a mister. Set the container on a sunny windowsill or under fluorescent lights, where the soil temperature will stay between 18° and 21°C (64° and 70°F), and keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout.
Transplant the seedlings into pots when they have two to three sets of mature leaves. To encourage branching, remove growing tips. Growing new plants from stem cuttings is not recommended.
Choose the right browallia
- For prime performance, most browallias grow best in partial shade and with regular watering to prevent wilting. Those conditions are perfect for the deep-indigo-flowering ‘Heavenly Bells’ and its white counterpart, ‘Silver Bells.’
- If you occasionally miss a day when watering your containers or if you have dry growing conditions in your garden, opt for the more drought-tolerant, compact-growing ‘Amethyst Bells’ which has purple blossoms accented by white centres.
- Another browallia has recently stepped into the limelight. B. Americana ‘Cascade Sky Blue’ is an interesting variation that produces quantities of about one centimetre (0.5 inch) pale violet-blue, star-shaped flowers on plants that form a compact 30 to 60 centimetre (12 to 25 inch) mound. ‘Cascade Sky Blue’ browallias flower from early spring until fall and tolerate either sun or shade.
Browallias are one of the most popular and beautiful annuals around. Follow this guide and you can easily add them to your garden, making it brighter and more lush than ever.