Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
purple cerinthe honeywort
Credit: Craig Summers Black
purple cerinthe honeywort

Honeywort, with its leathery gray-green foliage and intriguing blue to purple bracts, is a fast-growing annual native to the Mediterranean region. This drought-tolerant plant flourishes both in the ground and in containers, which show off the semi-cascading shoots. Honeywort is also called blue shrimp plant because of the color and shape of the blooms and bracts.

genus name
  • Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'
  • Sun
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 1-2 feet
flower color
season features
problem solvers
special features

Colorful Combinations

It is hard to find true blues in the plant world, and when you do, it seems like the flowers are often short-lived. But one of the great things about honeywort is its bracts, which hold their blue or purple color for weeks. They are showier than the actual flowers, which are little bell-shape blossoms often hidden within the bracts.

Because honeywort is largely seed-grown, there is quite a bit of variability when it comes to flower color. Most honeywort blossoms are purple to blue, but you may come across creams and even yellows. The plants attract pollinators with their nectar-rich flowers.

The foliage of honeywort is also special. Most plants in this family have exceptionally hairy foliage, whereas honeyworts may only have the stray hair here and there. The leaves are thick and waxy in an attractive gray-green color. When they are young, they also have cream spots and splashes, but these fade with maturity.

Honeywort Care Must-Knows

Honeywort tolerates a variety of soil conditions, making it an easy-to- grow plant. Ideally it prefers soil rich in humus and organic matter that retains a decent amount of moisture while also being well-drained to prevent potential rot problems. When growing honeywort in containers, use a general purpose potting mix; the plant will need a bit more water when grown in a pot. Once established, honeywort can handle the occasional drought, but supplemental watering is beneficial.

To grow the most vibrant honeyworts, full sun is best, but plants are able to tolerate light shade. Full sun will help to give honeyworts the most intense blue-colored bracts possible. Too much shade can cause honeywort to become quite leggy and without careful attention can lead to powdery mildew infections.

Honeywort will produce large black seeds that fall to the ground, germinate in autumn, and creates a nice stand of plants. In cooler climates where these plants will die from freezing temperatures, collect the seeds for sowing next spring. To do this, plant seeds in small pots 6 to 8 weeks before the frost free date for your area. Once the threat of frost has passed, plant the young seedlings outdoors. You can also sow honeywort seeds directly in the ground with good success.

Honeywort Companion Plants

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