Common name: Speedwell

Family: plantain family (Plantaginaceae, formerly listed under figwort family, Scrophulariaceae)

Height x width: 6-36" x 6-24" (depending on species, cultivar)

Growth rate, habit: moderate; upright clumps

Foliage: opposite, oblong to lanceolate, 2-4" long, crenate to serrulate margin

Flowers:  blue, violet, white or pink late spring to late summer (depending on species); spike-like racemes

Hardiness: zones 3-8

Soil: well-drained

Light: sun, tolerates part shade especially in the South

Pests and Problems: downy and powdery mildews, rusts, aphids, mites (no problems serious)

Landscape habit, uses: borders, cut flowers, containers, shorter species for rock gardens

Other interest: native to Europe and Asia; named in honor of St. Veronica as markings on some species flowers resemble markings on the handkerchief of St. Veronica; at least one species officinalis was used in Europe until the 19th century as a tea substitute

Other culture: remove (deadhead) old flowers for repeat bloom

Propagation: seed (300,000 seeds per ounce), spring or fall division, softwood cuttings in summer


The following species and cultivars are the ones most common in U.S. commerce. Those marked * are widely available and the most popular.
Species zone height habit flower color, time flowers native
allionii 4-7 3-6" spreading deep blue, summer axillary SW Alps
alpina 3-8 4-8" spreading blue, spring terminal Eurasia
armena 4-7 4-6" spreading blue, early summer axillary Caucasus
austriaca 4-7 2-3' erect blue, summer axillary Europe
gentianoides 4-7 6-24" spreading pale blue, spring terminal Caucasus
grandis 4-8 2-4' erect lilac, summer terminal Eurasia
*incana 3-7 1-2' both blue, small, summer terminal Russia
liwanensis 5-8 2-4" spreading blue, early summer axillary Caucasus
longifolia 4-8 2-4' erect lilac, summer terminal Eurasia
officinalis 3-7 6-24" erect lilac, early summer axillary Europe
pectinata 5-7 3-6" spreading deep blue, spring axillary Caucasus
peduncularis 5-8 4-12" both various, early summer axillary Caucasus
prostrata 4-8 6-12" spreading blue, summer axillary So. Europe
repens 5-8 2-4" spreading various, summer axillary Spain
schmidtiana 5-8 4-12" erect blue mauve, summer terminal Japan
*spicata 4-7 1-2' erect blue, spring-summer terminal Eurasia
spicata subsp. incana: incana            

 (photos courtesy Missouri Botanical Gardens plantfinder)


Although the following cultivars are generally listed in a species, some represent hybrids with other species.
Cultivar species flowers other
*'Alba' alpina white  
'Alba' prostrata white  
'Barcarolle' spicata rose pink gray green leaves, hybrid
'Blaufuchs':'Blue Fox'      
'Blauriesen' (Blue Giantress) longifolia bright blue good cut
*'Blue Charm' spicata lavender blue 2-3' tall
'Blue Fox' spicata lavender blue 15-20" tall
'Blue Giantress':Blauriesen'      
'Blue Peter' spicata dark blue 12-24" tall
*'Crater Lake Blue' austriaca intense blue 12-15", subsp. teucrium
'Foerster's Blue' longifolia deep blue 1-2', 8 weeks of bloom
'Georgia Blue' peducularis blue 12" bushy habit
'Giles van Hees'   bright pink 6", long bloom most summer
'Glory' (Royal Candles) spicata blue compact 6-8" tall
*'Goodness Grows' alpina blue 10-12", alpina x spicata
*'Heavenly Blue' prostrata sapphire blue 2-4" tall
'Heidekind' spicata rose pink 8-10" tall, spring, less hardy
*'Icicle' spicata white 18-24", long bloom
*'Minuet' spicata rose pink 12-18", gray leaves, hybrid
'Mrs. Holt' prostrata bright pink 6" tall, less vigorous
'Nana' spicata blue 8" tall
'Noah Williams' spicata creamy white white margined leaves
*'Red Fox' spicata deep rosy red 15" tall, glossy leaves
'Romiley Purple' spicata violet blue  
'Rosea' longifolia rose pink 3' tall, branched
'Rosea' pectinata rose pink shorter racemes than species
'Rosea' spicata soft pink 15" tall
*'Royal Blue' austriaca deep blue 12-18", subsp. teucrium
Royal Candles: 'Glory' spicata
'Shirley Blue' austriaca blue 8" tall
Sightseeing hybrids spicata various mix 18" tall, vigorous, from seed
'Silver Slippers' incana blue, few gray dense mat
'Snow White' spicata white branching spikes 18" tall
*'Sunny Border Blue'   violet blue late summer, 18-24", vigorous
'Trehane' prostrata deep blue bright yellow-green foliage 6-8"
'Variegata' gentianoides pale blue white margined foliage
'Waterperry Blue' spicata light blue 4-6" tall, spreads

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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