Gentian plants belong to the Gentiana genus, which is made up of about 400 different species in the Gentianaceae family, making this a fairly large genus.
These beautiful flowers are easily recognizable, with their vivid colors made up of around 5 sepals, stamens, and petals. Most of the time, these flowers come in a bright blue, but you may find them in other colors too, such as white, cream, yellow, and red.
These plants are fairly widespread, as you can find them on every continent except for Antarctica.
Gentian Name Origin
The genus name honors Genitus, the king of the Illyrian kingdom between 181 – 168 BC. It’s believed that he was the first to discover the medicinal properties of these beautiful plants.
Gentian Flower Meaning
In terms of flower symbolism, gentian flowers represent a sweet and generous nature, a passion for life, charm, and attraction.
Gentian Plant Uses
King Gentius is believed to have introduced the plant’s medicinal purposes to the world, specifically that of Gentiana lutea. This plant was first used to bring on an appetite in those that had lost theirs, and it was also used to clean wounds.
Some gentian plants are used in herbal medicine to treat snake bites, insect bites, stomach complaints, conjunctivitis, fever, and muscle problems. It’s also believed to have applications in helping to alleviate nausea and vomiting, depression, and anemia.
Some species of gentians are used to flavor liqueurs, a practice that started in Auvergne, France.
Others are employed in perfumes, cosmetics, and products aimed at helping you lose weight.
Guide To Growing Gentian
Gentian plants can be annuals or perennials, depending on the specific cultivar you choose. As there are many colors available, they will slot into any color scheme within your garden nicely.
The majority of Gentian plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 through to 9, blooming from spring all the way to fall if the weather allows.
The height of a Gentian plant can range from 2 inches tall, perfect for containers and at the front of borders, up to 3 feet tall.
They only need an average amount of irrigation, and will happily survive in partial shade or full sunlight. However, these striking plants require plenty of nutrients, in moist soil with plenty of drainage.
For best results, use soil with a pH between 5.0 and 7.5, and you’ll see these beautiful flowers bloom for years to come.