Honeywort, Blue Shrimp Plant, Blue Wax Flower 'Purpurascens'

Cerinthe major

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



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:



18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


Not Applicable

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Mid Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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


Anchorage, Alaska

Sorrento, British Columbia

Alameda, California

Arroyo Grande, 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 (3 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

Dunnellon, Florida

Saint Petersburg, 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

Aberdeen, Washington

Duvall, Washington

Everett, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Seattle, Washington

South Hill, Washington

Madison, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 27, 2018, Kleiva from San Francisco, CA wrote:

From one plant purchased five years ago, I now have many plants popping up every Spring in my San Francisco garden. Honeywort grows 3' high and tends to flop a bit, so it works well amid plants that provide natural support as it grows. Reseeds wonderfully and transplants well when no more than 4" high. Unusual flower in mauve/deep blue shades, loved by bees, looks lovely as part of a wild-ish bouquet.


On Dec 21, 2017, Domehomedee from Arroyo Grande, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have found this to be an excellent annual under other plants in my garden. They grow well from seed and I have even had volunteers. I am in zone 8b/9a about 6 miles inland from the coast. They don't mind some shade and the bees and butterflies like them. The light green leaves and deep purple color is very tropical looking.


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

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


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.


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.


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.


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 seedling... read more


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 lo... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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 plac... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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%.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.