How to grow Cerinthe major purpurascens

Commonly known as the 'Purple Shrimp Plant' or 'Honeywort', Cerinthe major purpurascens is a popular herbaceous garden plant noted for its unusual yet gorgeously coloured blooms. The true species is a native to a large proportion of the mediterranean basin although it is far less attractive with green foliage and yellow-bronzed blooms

Cerinthe major
Cerinthe major purpurascens has a bushy, erect habit and readily self-propagates from seed (sometimes to the point of becoming a weed) in the milder regions of southern England and Ireland. Further north it tends to be only grown as an annual.

Under favourable conditions you can reach heights of between 50 to 60 centimetres. The leaves are a bluish-green colour, while the tubular flowers are yellow and purple with conspicuous purple bracts which appear from mid-April to the end of May. Once pollinated, black seeds drop to the ground in late summer .

Cerinthe major purpurascens will perform best in a sheltered position in full sun, preferring to be planted in a well-drained, fertile soil. Avoid soils prone to waterlogging and cut back after flowering to prevent re-seeding. If full sun is not available it will tolerate light shade.

Main image credit - Simon Eade at
In text image - By © Hans Hillewaert /, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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