Looking for something attractive, yet low maintenance for partially shaded areas of the landscape or container garden? You can’t go wrong with planting blue lips flowers. Sure, the name may seem awkward, but once you see them in full bloom in the garden, you’ll quickly become a fan. Read on to learn more.
Blue Lips Plant Info
Blue lips (Sclerochiton harveyanus) is a glossy-leaved spreading perennial shrub that is suitable for a woodland garden. The small to medium sized evergreen shrub is hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11. In July, August, and September (December through March in Southern Hemisphere), small blue to purple flowers cover the plant, followed by seed pods that burst when ripe.
The multi-stemmed shrub reaches 6 to 8 feet tall (2 m.) with a similar spread in optimum conditions. Runners enable the plant to spread quickly. Elliptic leaves are dark green on the top and dull green below. The ribbed lower petals of the flowers give the impression of lips, earning its common name.
Blue lips is native to South Africa, from Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe. Named for Dr. William H. Harvey (1811-66), an author and professor of botany, the shrub is much underused in the nursery industry.
Growing Blue Lips Plants
Blue lips plant care is practically maintenance free, with little pruning necessary, and only moderate water needs once established.
Grow this plant in slightly acidic (6.1 to 6.5 pH) to neutral soils (6.6 to 7.3 pH) that are rich in organic matter. In its native environment, blue lips can be found at the edges of forests or as part of the forest understory.
Blue lips attract bees, birds, and butterflies so it is suitable as part of a pollinator garden or wildlife habitat in a semi-shady location. It also is attractive as filler for a mixed shrub border in a woodland garden. Due to its dense foliage, it can be used as a unique hedge or even shaped into topiary.
Blue lips can be grown in a 3-gallon (0.5 cubic feet) or larger container on the porch or patio to enjoy the blooms up close and moved indoors during winter in the cooler zones. Be sure the pot provides excellent drainage.
Sclerochiton harveyanus can be propagated from stem cuttings or seeds in spring. For semi- hardwood cuttings, dip stems in rooting hormone and plant in rooting medium such as equal parts bark and polystyrene. Keep moist and roots should develop within three weeks.
For seed, plant in well-draining potting soil and treat seeds with a fungicide prior to planting to prevent damping off.
Problems with Blue Lips Flowers
Blue lips are not bothered by many pests or diseases. However, too much moisture or incorrect planting can bring on a mealybug infestation. Treat with neem oil or other insecticide labeled to treat mealybugs.
Fertilizing blue lips each season can prevent yellowing of leaves and promote growth. Organic or inorganic fertilizer can be used.
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After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to Lowes.com. While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.
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