How to Grow Browallia Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Bush violet and Sapphire Flower

Browallia can either be annuals, or are half hardy perennials that are often treated as half hardy annuals by gardeners.

Common names include Bush violet, Sapphire flower, Amethyst flower and Jamaican forget-me-not.

They make great plants for containers and as part of flower borders that are in shaded areas of the garden.

Description of Browallia

These are bushy plants, they usually reach an height of around 30 cm; some species may reach 60 cm in height.

Members bloom from the spring until the autumn.

Flowers are trumpet shaped and of white or purple; they have exuberant green leaves.

Browallia speciosa
Browallia speciosa

Browallia viscosa
Browallia viscosa. Both Bush Violet photographs by Tim Waters.

Information on Browallia and Commonly Grown Garden Species

The Browallia genus is part of the Solanaceae family, and is a native plant of Central and Northern America. Plants usually have dark green foliage, leaves of around two inches (5 cm) in length, and showy trumpet shaped flowers of blue, purple or white.

As a member of the 42 genus Solanaceae family, Browallia are closely related to many important agricultural plants such as Tomatoes, Aubergines and Potatoes (Solanum); Chili (Capsicum) and Tobacco (Nicotinia). It is also related to plants such as the Trumpet Flower (Datura), Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia) and Lycianthes.

Some of the Browallia members that are seen in gardens and fields include:

Browallia speciosa: Sapphire Flower; (Half Hardy Perennial)
Browallia americana: Jamaican forget-me-not; Amythyst flower; Bush violet (annual)
Browallia eludens: Bush Violet (annual)
Browallia viscosa: Bush Violet (annual)

Browallia Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Bush Violet, Sapphire Flower, Amethyst Flower, Jamaican forget-me-not.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 12 to 24 Inches (30 to 60 cm).
Native: Central America.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10.
Flowers: Spring, summer and autumn.
Flower Details: Purple, violet, blue, white. Trumpets.
Foliage: Green. Ovate to lanceolate.
Sow Outside: Surface. Following the last frost. Spacing 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 65 to 70°F (18 to 21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors a few weeks after the last frost; temperature should not drop below 41°F (5°C).
Requirements: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 7. Moist soil. Light feed. Mulch. Regular watering. Pinch tips.

How to Grow Browallia Species

Outdoors Browallia should be sown on the surface after the last frost of spring. Ideally bush violets should first be grown indoors, they should be started about seven weeks before planting the seedlings out after the last frost of spring.

They take from one to three weeks to germinate when kept at a temperature of 19 to 20 degrees Celsius.

The seedlings of bush violets and other Browallia should be planted out with a spacing of about 20 cm for smaller species and 40 cm for larger species.

They prefer sunny or partly cloudy areas of the garden, and enjoy moist soil of pH 6 to 7.

Caring for Browallia in the Garden

Plants of the Browallia genus should be watered regularly during dry spells and when plants reach about 15 cm in height they should be pinched back; this will encourage bushy growth.

Specific Plant Information and Tips on growing Browallia in the Garden

Browallia speciosa: Sapphire Flower

These Half Hardy Perennials are usually grown as annuals in the garden due to their tenderness. The plants reach an height of one to two feet (30 to 60cm) and like to grow in a slightly acid soil of pH 6 to 7. Unless you live in a warm area it is best to sow Browallia speciosa seeds indoors, about eight or nine weeks before transplanting out in mid spring, when there is no chance of a frost. Ideally space the plants about 8 to 10 (20 to 25 cm) apart in a partially shaded, or sunny part of the garden. The plants will bloom from early Summer through to the first frosts of late autumn with delightful 2 inch (5 cm) wide flowers of violet, blue or white.

Browallia americana (annual): Jamaican forget-me-not; Amythyst flower; Bush violet (annual)

This annual species of Browallia reaches a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45cm) and blooms in midsummer with blue or violet flowers. Browallia americana prefers to grow on slightly acidic moist soil.

Sow out seeds inside first, about 8 weeks before putting out. Do not transplant outdoors until temperatures do not dip below 40°F (5°C) as these plants will not tolerate frost. Space out at about 10 to 12 inches (20 to 25 cm) or grow in containers, or even as an house plant. Pinch back young shoots to encourage a bushy growth, and supply with a mulch to protect from the sun. lightly fertilize.