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World's first blue verbascum

Verbascum,blue,lagoon,Thompson,Morgan. Image ©Thompson & Morgan
We’ve seen a vast variety of verbascums come and go in recent years, but never one like this – the first ever bright blue verbascum.

Reaching about 75cm/30in in height, with a noticeably upright habit, ‘Blue Lagoon’ is the result of some creative plant breeding by Thompson & Morgan’s plant breeder Charles Valin, who has created so many interesting new plants in recent years. He told me how it happened.

“It actually came about as a result of trying to breed a red verbascum,” he told me. “Red shades usually come from crosses between a yellow plant and a dark violet flowered plant. In 2006 I started growing many species to find one with the deepest possible violet colouring and among those I tried a species native to Armenia and Turkey and selected some of the darkest plants.

“In 2008 I selected one plant bearing violet flowers with a slight blue hue. In 2009 I expected its offspring to produce only violet flowers but one seedling was an extraordinary “Meconopsis” blue, a rare colour in flowers, let alone in verbascums!

“Everyone agreed that this was a stunning plant and had to go into immediate production. The plant was sent to a tissue culture laboratory for micro propagation to ensure rapid and identical multiplication. In this case the blue petals were used as the start material. This method has enabled us to offer plants only two years after selecting the first blue plant.”

This looks to be a dramatic breakthrough. I look forward to seeing it in gardens this summer.

In the UK you can order plants of Verbascum ‘Blue Lagoon’ from Thompson & Morgan. Verbascum 'Blue Lagoon' is not yet available in North America.

[Cross post from my Royal Horticultural Society New Plants blog.]

Comments

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jodi DeLong

PANT breeding? Well then, it's obvious...the blue dye came out of the jeans and into the genes.

Seriously though, it's a lovely thing...I haven't quite decided if I like it as much as my Meconopsis, but if it's hardy and easier to grow, it will make many many people happy.

Graham Rice

Ha! Nicely put jodi. Seems a shame to correct the original, really.

CiaranBurke

It certainly looks interesting, and sounds like it would be ideal for our poor gravelly soil in Mayo in the west of Ireland. I don't see much information about hardiness though, and I wonder how robust a plant it will be. Some strains of Verbascum are very short lived e.g. Helen Johnson. A new colour strain is always exciting...

Graham Rice

A quick note from breeder Charles Valin, Ciaran. He says: "The first plant arose in 2009, so it is still early days to know about longevity. Time will tell. So far, so good! As for hardiness, they have survived two harsh winters, for the UK that is. We had temperatures below -10C/14F."

Brenda

I can't wait for this to be available in the US. It's GORGEOUS!! Love that color blue. Hurry, hurry, hurry, come here to America!

Mauro

Amazing! :-O

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