How to Grow Scutellaria Plants

Guide to Growing Skullcap and Helmet flowers.

Scutellaria is a genus of hardy perennial plants that range in height from 10 to 90 cm (4 inches to three feet).

The ones that are grown in gardens tend to be low growing, and have a spreading nature. Thus making them ideal for use in rock gardens.

Scutellaria plants bloom in the summertime, carrying lipped and hooded tubular shaped flowers that may be red, blue, purple, yellow or white.

Common names include Helmet Flower and Skullcap.

Scutellaria indica
Scutellaria indica by yamada*.

Scutellaria Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Skullcap, Helmet flowers.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 2 to 40 inches (5—100 cm). Most garden species are low growing, but some members are sub-shrubs.
  • Native: Temperate regions.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 8.

  • Flowers: Summer.
  • Flower Details: White, red, yellow, blue, purple. Hooded. Upper and lower lips. Tubular.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Opposite. Leaf shape varies, typically oval or lanceolate to ovate. Often woody at the base.

  • Sow Outside: Cover seed. Autumn using freshly available seed. Germination time: two weeks to six months. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. After two years of growth, transplant the seedlings to their final location in the autumn. Space at 8 to 24 inches (20—60 cm) depending on species size.
  • Sow Inside: No.

  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Neutral to slightly acidic soil (pH 6—7). Moist soil. Give enough water to ensure soil does not dry out. Spring mulch. Pinch tips of juvenile plants to encourage bushiness. Propagate: by dividing at the start of spring, of from cuttings of softwood in the summer.

  • Family: Lamiaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Basil, Deadnettle, Lavender, Mint, Perilla, Sage, Thyme.
  • Miscellaneous: The common names Skullcap derives from the resemblance of the flowers to medieval helmets. The Latin name is derived from the word for small dish/tray (scutella). Members of the genus are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammation, hepatitis, diarrhea, and to ward off superficial evil.

How to Grow Scutellaria

It is best to sow Scutellaria species such as Helmet Flowers and Skullcap outdoors using fresh seed. They should be sown in the autumn with a spacing of about 20 cm / 8 inches (small varieties) or 45 to 60 cm / 18 to 24 inches (larger species)> Lightly cover the seed once sown.

They can grow in either sunny or partially shaded areas, and require good drainage. Ideally the soil should be moist and slightly acidic (pH 6 to 7).

Caring for Scutellaria

The ground that Scutellaria grow in should be mulched in the spring time. The tips of the plant should be initially pinched back to encourage branching and a bushy growth.

They like a moist soil so keep well watered. If they start to spread, then thin the plants by division (this method can also be used to propagate plants in the spring; alternatively take cuttings from new shoots in the summer).

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Scutellaria plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Stachys and Physotegia plants.