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Lithodora 'Grace Ward'

Lithodora diffusa

Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Lithodora (lith-oh-DOR-uh) (Info)
Species: diffusa (dy-FEW-sa) (Info)
Cultivar: Grace Ward
View this plant in a garden


Alpines and Rock Gardens



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Medium Blue

Dark Blue

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Blooms repeatedly




Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From softwood cuttings

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


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


Centre, Alabama

Chowchilla, California

Fairfield, California

Knights Landing, California

Merced, California

Rancho Cucamonga, California

Sonora, California

Vallejo, California

East Haddam, Connecticut

Conyers, Georgia

Baldwin City, Kansas

South China, Maine

Annapolis, Maryland

Beverly, Massachusetts

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Clover, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

Fort Mill, South Carolina

Loris, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Fort Worth, Texas

Arlington, Virginia

Chantilly, Virginia

Locust Dale, Virginia

Edmonds, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Pullman, Washington

Stanwood, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 5, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The plants look great in the nursery, with electric blue flowers over neat foliage.

In Boston (Z6a), I've tried this several times in well-drained sandy loam that's acid enough to support ericaceous plants. I've had a lot of trouble with the foliage turning black and beginning to die back a few months after planting. The plants may make it through the winter but never look as good the second year, and never last long.

Perhaps the irrigation systems give too much water. Perhaps sharp sand would help. Perhaps it's the climate here in southern New England. But I've given up on this plant.


On Mar 23, 2015, mayclinhelpmeet from Alta Loma, CA wrote:

Are you willing to be challenged a bit for beauty sake?

Grace Ward Lithodora flowers in intense, deep true-blue tiny blossoms covering the plant once a year for about 4 weeks in the Southern California hot Inland Empire. The rest of the year there are a smattering of flowers throughout its low (4-5") dark green leathery narrow foliage. Takes 3 years to expand to about 3' in diameter in our poor but amended soil with moderate water the first year.

It will produce some volunteers under the main plant. I sweep away mulch from under the plant as it grows to encourage this. It can be finicky & die seemingly without cause. If I plant 3, I seem to invariably lose one. At times it will die back in the center of the plant. I attribute this to our highly alkaline, rock... read more


On Jul 22, 2014, tavira from Tavira
Portugal wrote:

I have been struggling with the plant for a year. I bought it with superb gentian coloured flowers. I planted it in the shade, and it struggled, I planted it in the sun, it struggled some more, so I dug it up and put it in a pot, first in the shade, then in the sun. Still struggling, and now the leaves are going variegated, which I do not like. It is pretty hot here in Portugal, about 35C, so I will try the shade once more. Have just seen on Google that it needs acid soil, which you don't mention.
Need I say it has not flowered since I bought it? If I had not seen the flowers, it would have been compost months ago. Grateful if anyone has any suggestions??


On Feb 17, 2014, hipgranny63 from Edmonds, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've had this plant in my rock garden for a couple of years now. It started out with just three or four 4" pots, which spread to an area that's about five feet square within two years. It gets full sun and drip irrigation during the summer. It drapes itself beautifully over the rocks, but now, even though it is still mostly green, looks untidy and parts of it is black, especially under the cascading areas. So, I'll take the hedge trimmers to it next month and fertilize it to stimulate new growth. All the literature says to prune only after it blooms, but I've also heard from my friends that what I intend to do should be just fine. Will report back as to my success.


On Aug 30, 2013, esteve59 from Annapolis, MD wrote:

I have planted this at least 4-5 times.....the first time it lasted thru a mild winter.....but most of the time it dies even if I forget to water it....
not very drought tolerant.....which is confusing since because I thought it comes from a Mediterranean climate.....
It is such a beautiful shade of blue......


On Jun 20, 2013, 01cookie from Halfmoon Bay, BC, BC (Zone 8a) wrote:

Love this plant, just wish I could get it to root starter plants more easily.
I planted a starter plant from a 2 inch pot into my rock garden in 2008 and now in 2013 it cascades approximately 4 feet down the rocks and is beginning to grow on the sidewalk as well as up a trellis on the fence. It is amazing in that this plant only has one center root and has not self rooted anywhere to support such a big plant.
From early spring to late fall there always are some blossoms on this plant and the bees just love it. What a beneficial plant.
I've never trimmed or fertilized this plant and it handles drought very well. All I did was mix healthy, slightly acidic well draining dirt (mainly peat, loam and horse manure) when I started the rock garden and the Pacific North West co... read more


On May 21, 2012, bendipa from London
United Kingdom wrote:

I have been growing this alpine in a container in John Innes 2 compost for the first time this year. It produced a flush of beautiful blue gentian coloured flowers. This flush is just finishing and the leaves which were a healthy looking green a few weeks ago have now turned black and died as did the whole plant a month later

Bought a second Lithodora and that one was planted in the ground. This time it thrived.

/photos/12074760@N03/8723236777/in/photostream/lightbox/ (photo 05/02/2013)




On May 2, 2012, rgoddard13 from Fort Mill, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I neglected my garden last year and this thing survived a mild drought in clay soil. Despite this treatment it rewarded me with the brightest, most vibrant flowers of all my plants.
After a little water and fertilizer it went crazy yielding flowers for longer. I am in season 3 and have yet to experience the doughnut in the middle.


On Aug 19, 2010, Marjaliisa from Sonora, CA wrote:

Love! the color. Folage and fabulous flower color. Problem with the center turning black w/the edges continuing to be green and flower. Too much water? When sheared back, sends up new growth and looks like a new plant. They are planted in not so great amended (mostly decomposed granit), but with good drainage. Any ideas to offset the dieback in the center?


On Nov 18, 2009, bonehead from Cedarhome, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is a gorgeous true blue and I love it in full bloom, but unfortunatly I don't seem to have much luck with it. It often gets leggy and woody, sometimes whole sections just turn black and die while the rest limps along. I've planted it probably 4 times or more. My latest planting is doing pretty good, maybe I've found the right combo of site/drainage/etc. If so, I'll upgrade to a positive experience.


On Mar 7, 2009, skttlsno1 from Loris, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've found that since I live in the South, they do best with only morning sun. They can't tolerate the full sun down here. Beautiful as a groundcover around one of my oak trees.


On Apr 27, 2008, WombatFamily from Brenham, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Had to try a little with this plant. Terrible in a pot. Dying in a sunny spot. Ones at the back of the garden that get some sun but are mostly shaded by other plants are doing very well.


On Mar 29, 2007, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

This plant tolerates absolutely no drought. That is how I killed mine. I do not mean prolonged drought, but conditions that are fairly normal in many gardens that are not damaging if not beneficial to many plants. It is, however, quite pretty and woudl be quite at home in other gardens around the country.


On Mar 25, 2007, HgNi2006 from Vallejo, CA wrote:

I'm not terribly happy with this plant...I put two in pots next to my fountain a year ago and they have looked dead/woody/leggy ever since. Now one has bloomed and looks good, but the other looks bad. Maybe they are best as a groundcover?


On Jun 30, 2006, elaine_h from Conyers, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Planted this last summer. It survived our mild winter (zone 7b)at the edge of the cone flower bed in partial sun and is doing very well this summer but getting somewhat leggy. I will attempt to prune back the center a bit this fall. I have enjoyed this plant for it low growing spreading color. Looks good under blooming perennials.


On Oct 13, 2002, PotEmUp from Fremont, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Starts off nicely as a ground cover, but becomes somewhat woody as it ages.