Imagine a carpet of the most intensely blue flowers polka-dotting a mat of deep green foliage and what you’re really seeing is Lithodora. This lovely ground cover plant brings in pollinators throughout much of the year, too.
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*A handy growing summary chart is at the end of the article.*
This easy to grow, evergreen perennial is also heat and drought tolerant and will grow in a wide range of soils. This means it will be the perfect addition to a variety of garden types like rock gardens and mixed flower beds. It grows in a low, spreading manner which makes it great for helping to suppress weeds and fill in empty patches in the garden. It also acts as its own mulch helping to keep the soil underneath from drying out.
Most Lithodora varieties are in shades of intense, electric blue, however there is a variety called “Star” that has a radiating star pattern in blue on a white background. The blue pigments blend well with a multitude of other flower colors. The flowers can be found throughout much of the year, though they will be more abundant from spring through fall, and the bees and butterflies absolutely mob them. The dark green leaves are short and similar in shape to rosemary and remain on the plant during the winter, so you will have color all year long.
The plant has few problems from pests or disease. Our biggest problem is snails, but they leave this plant alone. It is also reportedly deer resistant, though I don’t deal with that. It does not seem to be impacted by anything else. The biggest concern is maintaining proper moisture levels in the soil. Though the plants are drought tolerant they do require somewhat regular watering. However, overwatering will lead to root rot, especially if the soil is heavy like clay.
- Evergreen: may lose some leaves in colder weather
- Height: about 6 inches
- Width: grows about 3 feet wide
- Sun: full sun, but can tolerate some shade during the day
- Water: drought tolerant to a degree, do not let soil get overly dry
- Soil pH: neutral to slightly acidic
- Soil type: can tolerate a wide range of soil types, but be mindful or poorly draining soil
- Key nutrients: fertilize as you would for other flowers
- Planting time: usually planted in early spring
- Zones: 6-9
2 thoughts on “Lithodora diffusa”
This was a new one for me last year. they are not growing very big very fast, but that is fine with me. I am pleased that they seem to be happy. I though the name was silly because it looks like it translates to “stone fragrance”, as if it smells like a rock. Someone explained that it translates to “stone lover” because it lives in rocky soil or among rocks. If so, it should be spelled ‘Lithadora’ with an ‘a’ where the first ‘o’ is. I think my silly translation is more amusing.
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That’s pretty funny! Maybe they do smell like rocks, I’ve never checked! Mine have also been slower growing compared to other plants, but they do seem to top out after a while. They are a great ground cover because they radiate out a bit, but stay put and don’t take over the yard.
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