About Fringed Gentian: This rare blossom has been described as America’s loveliest wildflower, and was for a time nominated for the classification of national flower. Its celestial beauty inspired poetic praise from such greats as Bryant, Dickinson, and Thoreau, as well as being a popular motif and symbol in artistic works. The Gentiana genus was named after King Gentius, an ancient ruler of the kingdom of Illyria who, according to legend, discovered the many medicinal benefits of this family of plants. The species name “crinita” comes from the Latin word for “hairy,” referring to the finely fringed petals of the blossom.
Fringed Gentian Germination: To break this seed’s dormancy, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 60-90 days before planting. Scatter the seed on the surface of the soil, then press it in lightly. Keep the soil moist, but water carefully to avoid disturbing the seed; keep the soil temperature at about 70 degrees F. Germination is notoriously slow and irregular, but should begin to occur within 4 weeks. Transplant two seedlings each in individual pots, handling very carefully to prevent breaking the hair-like roots.
Growing Fringed Gentian Seeds: Keep the seedlings moist as they develop, which will happen very slowly. In their first year, the seedlings will develop into a low rosette; since they survive cold temperatures well, they can planted out in their first season. If the seedlings are overwintered indoors before transplanting, they will need very careful attention since they do not appreciate transplanting at a larger size. They must be kept well watered at all times, and weeds should be kept to a minimum. Full bloom may not occur until their second or third season of growth. Mature plants may self-seed in good growing conditions. This plant does not appreciate extreme heat or drought, though it is quite cold hardy and adapts well to marshy areas or water’s edge. This flower attracts many types of bees.
Harvesting Fringed Gentian: This delicate, rare blossom will not last long as a cut flower and is best enjoyed outdoors. Because of its rare and endangered status, it should never be picked or transplanted from the wild.
Saving Fringed Gentian Seeds: After blooming, the flowers develop into long capsules that split to reveal the ripe seed. Cut them from the stem or simply shake the entire plant over a container to remove the fine, tiny oval seeds. Germination rates will be best if the seed is planted immediately, but it will remain viable for several years if stored properly. Store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Fringed Gentian Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Greater Fringed Gentian, Gentian Root Duration: Biennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 8-12 inches Spacing: 12-15 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Wet USDA Zone: 3a-6b Seeds Per Oz: 200,000 Produces a plant with smooth, blade-shaped leaves and 2” tubular blossoms that flare open halfway up with rounded, finely fringed purple petals.