Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Honeywort, Blue Shrimp Plant, Blue Wax Flower
Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Cerinthe (ser-IN-thee) (Info)
Species: major (MAY-jor) (Info)
Cultivar: Purpurascens
Additional cultivar information: (aka Purpurescens)

Synonym:Cerinthe major var. purpurascens

One vendor has this plant for sale.

33 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Mid Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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20 positives
4 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive DavidLMo On Jul 8, 2014, DavidLMo from St Joseph, MO wrote:

Grows will in zone 5b Missouri. Lovely and different plant.

Positive cargarden On Aug 6, 2013, cargarden from Goodview, MN wrote:

Honey wort is a very pretty plant a lot of people have commented on it and I also have given seeds from the plant as there is plenty I also will be planting more of the seeds, I do have a idea for the plant is to use a small tomato cage to keep it from tipping you can't see the cage when surrounded by the plant almost like a peony. Would be nice if there were more colors of the plant like a red. Will have to check on the yellow is it as pretty? Will see how it does next spring as this will be the first winter for it.

Positive RosinaBloom On Oct 2, 2012, RosinaBloom from Waihi
New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:

Cerinthe major 'purpurascens' is also known as salvia viridis (Clary Sage) 'Blue Denim'. It is an old fashioned perennial plant.
I was given a tiny piece to grow last summer, and now it is a metre tall by a metre and a half in width. It flowered all through winter here in Waihi New Zealand, and it seems to be a very hardy little plant indeed, as well as a joy to the eye. The bees have been visiting it also.

Neutral Chrissydecky On May 24, 2012, Chrissydecky from Sebastopol, CA wrote:

My healthy plant is 3 feet tall. I am still waiting for the intense blue color. It is not getting really cold at night, and I am wondering if this is a factor.

Positive AmandaEsq On May 10, 2012, AmandaEsq from Greensboro, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:


My experience with planting from seed and successive transplant echos comments below, so I am sharing my observations on the dangers of transplanting this species from seed.

The seeds grown in a single container were vigorous and ready for transplant - in hindsight I could have simply "thinned" and avoided the transplant problem which ensued, but I was eager to have multiple plants.

As I was transplanting I noticed there were nice long roots on some and not on others. I wondered if I was planting at the proper level. I think what happened next answered my question - alarming wilt with almost all seedlings (10). I used a commercial potting mix and had watered them well as I do with transplant of all my seedlings.

I came back and re-read the posts here and eventually re-transplanted the seedlings which all surely would have perished. I re-planted each seedling into a 2" container with a very fine seed starting mix and did not water them again. I propped the foliage of each plant up so there would be less stress on the stem. Overnight I had 4 of them recover. The rest - I took cuttings from the growth tips but not sure if they will root. After a few days and only a tiny bit of water to each seedling, they are still in some shock, but I think they will make it.

My impression is that the seedlings should not be transplanted very deeply in heavy soil mix and do not want a lot of water on transplant.

I think it's important for DG members to share information on species that are difficult to start from seed. Please pay this forward.

Positive FrancineSF On May 24, 2010, FrancineSF from Mill Valley, CA wrote:

I live in Mill Valley, CA (the sunny part of Mill Valley) and am having wonderful success with Cerinthe. They are STUNNING.

I bought 4 plants at the local nursery and just planted them in a mostly sunny area. It gets a little less sun in the late afternoon, but it's not shady. The days have been cooler, of late. The evenings are cooler, too. But, even when it's been in the mid-70's, they seem to be doing great.

They are nearly 3' high and I've done nothing special with them when planting. The blue/purple color is gorgeous and they look really healthy.

I am looking for more seeds to plant (or more plants I can plant), because I would like to make this the focus of my flower garden, interspered with other flowers.

I am also looking for the yellow/golden honeywort plants/seeds, as well.

Really unusual and beautiful.

Positive plutodrive On Jun 25, 2009, plutodrive from Denver, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

This self sows reliably for me. The seedlings that germinated last fall remained evergreen throughout the winter.

Positive carolrees On Jun 16, 2009, carolrees from Arlington, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought 1 plant of this from Annie's Annuals this year. It is doing great and has grown a lot and is blooming now. I may try to start some from seed next year but I'd definitely recommend this beautiful flower.

Positive Susan_C On Jul 5, 2008, Susan_C from Alameda, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This beautiful and unusual plant is very easy to start from seed. -A great plant for an informal cottage garden. I have it in a mixed border with Silene orientalis, variegated Money Plant, tall Snapdragons, Nasturtium 'Alaska' and Cineraria 'Stellata', and it is the star of the bed. It is supposedly a full sun plant, but it is blooming very well in an area that only gets 4 - 5 hours of sun.

Neutral duece On May 23, 2008, duece from Kewanee, IL wrote:

I saw a picture of this plant in a seed catalog and loved it. I own a green house and am always looking for something new and different to present to customers. I have had these plants in gallon pots on the bench for several months now with no sign of a blossom! Maybe they don't intend to bloom until they are planted into the ground, perhaps they are waiting for longer days to trigger their bloom cycle. I am just not sure. I live in Illinois and we have had a cold, cloudy spring so maybe that has had a effect also, but hey were raised in heated greenhouses. If anyone has a guesstamation fire away I am stumped. I haven't found a whole lot of info as to why they would not be blooming.

Positive robcorreia On May 16, 2008, robcorreia from San Diego, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

This plant is fantastic with its blue leaves, and it's so easy to grow!

Positive mrs_colla On Apr 20, 2007, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Beautiful plant, got them from seed and as little potplants. The snails got one, ate it completely, and I had to put sluggo around the other ones.

Neutral cnelsengr On Jul 15, 2006, cnelsengr from Laguna Niguel, CA wrote:

We bought a small container of seedlings in Cambria, CA. We live in Laguna Niguel. We did not transplant yet because we wanted to show see some growth and let the plants get stronger. After about a month of cool nights and hot days (90-95 in partial shade) the 2 in. high plants have not grown and now apear to be damping off. Because of small size and heat we have been watering daily.
Can anyone comment on the problem? We notice that most positive comments come from (cool) northwest.

Positive Silphion On Apr 12, 2006, Silphion from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

If there's another plant like the purple flowered honeywort then I cant think of it. It's strange beauty makes me think of things that might have been found growing on some other planet. I've had no pest problems with them and 1 plant gone to seed will be more than enough to populate your whole yard with them if that is your disire. I had one plant last season and saved as much seed as I could, naturally some escaped my culling. Imagine my surprise when I made a random January walk of my yard (Z8b) and saw 5-6 purple honeyworts sprouting away happilly, some even were nestled happily in my lawn. Seed sprouting in January in a clay ridden lawn = impressive (for me.) I would advise caution with this plant as it's readyness to reseed could move it in the direction of a weed in some places, although, I have to admit, I wouldnt mind a weed that looks like this :)

Positive trailingon On Sep 28, 2004, trailingon from dobie, ON (Zone 3a) wrote:

The color display of this plant was fantastic. The cooler the night temperature gets the leaves get a deeper blue. I grew it from seeds and it has put on a beautiful display all summer. We have had frost several times and it just keeps going.

Positive busy_bee_or On May 13, 2004, busy_bee_or from The Dalles, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Cerinthe major purpurescens is a hardy annual. It reseeds in the fall and the seedlings survive the winter producing a grand display of color in April (zone 8b). The seeds are large and can be harvested when they are hard and gray/black and release easily from the plant. Seeds are ready in stages, beginning at the base of the plant where the flowers first appeared.

Negative jevansa On Apr 23, 2004, jevansa wrote:

They turned brown and died. What did I do? I grew them from seeds, and out of six seeds I got two plants. I transplanted them to my front yard where they enjoyed full sun and much water. Since they were growing in San Diego climate I thought they would last at least through the summer. They grew to about two feet high, then shriveled up and died just as they were blooming. Couldn't find signs of bugs.

Positive eje On Apr 18, 2004, eje from San Francisco, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Planted in fall for early spring bloom, this is a really nifty addition to the garden. The bees and hummingbirds just love it. Looking forward to more next year.

Positive clendnn On Mar 12, 2004, clendnn from Pleasanton, CA wrote:


Positive Gillianbc On Mar 1, 2004, Gillianbc wrote:

Mine go leggy too at the end of the season - but it's not a problem. I just treat them as an annual as they self seed so easily. Mine are already coming into flower (1st March in Buckinghamshire, UK) which is amazing as we're still about -5C some nights. I pop the spare seedlings into any available gap - they're so pretty and go with anything. What amazes me is how much seed companies charge for such a small quantity of these seeds as each plant produces quite a lot of the large brown seeds and they're so easy to collect. Just four or five seeds from a friend is enough to get you going and germination is almost 100%.

Neutral Cajun2 On Jul 7, 2003, Cajun2 from (Carole) Cleveland, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I was very impressed with the way mine grew so easily from seed. And the plant grew very quickly. But then something happened and it began leaning outward and has grown all bent over ever since. I've had to stake it, but that didn't really work. Now it's been looking so pathetic and I'm not sure what happened to begin with. I have it growing in a bed on the west side of my garden, so it gets afternoon shade (I'm in Texas). Any ideas?

Judging from the pictures I see here, maybe if I figure out the key, I'll learn to love this plant in my garden.

Positive Crimson On Jul 5, 2003, Crimson from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Grew easily from seed, lovely foliage... unfortunately something thinks that the foliage is tastey (perhaps the chipmunk who eat my sedum) and eats them to the point of killing them. Still it is a plant I'll grow again next year since it grew from seed to flowering in very few months, faster than everything except my poppies!

Positive GCGC On Jul 16, 2002, GCGC wrote:

Zone 4: has the most beautiful blue/green stems/foliage, very unusual color in the garden. looks like a succulent-type plant. will buy again.

Positive ljday On Jun 22, 2002, ljday from Oakland, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I live in Oakland California (Zone 9). I bought the plant in 2001. Since last year, it has spread and is very healthy. I'd say in my area, it is a hardy perennial. It does tend to droop and become leggy, but I just tied (it)them to an upright form. It's a sun plant, but seems to live well in relatively poor soil.

Best of all, the deer have not touched it, and they eaten many plants in my yard, that are "Deer Resistant" -- even the thorny, furry ones.

I bought 2 more plants this year. They are a slighty deeper purple. They are doing very well. This isn't a formal plant, but it is an attractive free spirit.

Positive sueone On May 3, 2002, sueone from Weymouth, Dorset
United Kingdom (Zone 9a) wrote:

this is one plant that I'd never be without, i have it out in my front garden with a low growing euphorbia and a ceonothus, the colours together are fab.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anchorage, Alaska
Sorrento, British Columbia
Alameda, California
Calistoga, California
Clayton, California
Encinitas, California
Fairfield, California (2 reports)
Hayward, California
Huntington Beach, California
Long Beach, California
Martinez, California
Menifee, California
Mill Valley, California
Pleasanton, California
Redwood City, California (2 reports)
Richmond, California
Sacramento, California
San Anselmo, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Francisco, California (2 reports)
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Clara, California
Santa Rosa, California
Sebastopol, California
Denver, Colorado
Boca Raton, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Milledgeville, Georgia
Lewiston, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois
Hebron, Kentucky
Hammond, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Parkville, Maryland
Westport, Massachusetts
Mason, Michigan
Winona, Minnesota
Saint Joseph, Missouri
Missoula, Montana
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Eugene, Oregon
Phoenix, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (3 reports)
Salem, Oregon
The Dalles, Oregon
Woodburn, Oregon
North East, Pennsylvania
Austin, Texas
Center, Texas
Collinsville, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Ogden, Utah
Arlington, Virginia
Duvall, Washington
Everett, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Seattle, Washington
South Hill, Washington
Madison, Wisconsin

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