How to Plant and Grow Honeywort

Deep shades of blue like this are not easy to come by in the plant world.

It's hard to find true blues in the plant world, and when you do, it seems like the flowers don't last long. Honeywort's bracts hold their blue or purple color for weeks. The foliage of honeywort is also unique. Most plants in this family have exceptionally hairy foliage, whereas honeyworts may only have stray hair here and there. The leaves are thick and waxy in an attractive gray-green color. Honeywort is hardy in Zones 7-10.

Because honeywort is mainly seed-grown, there's quite a bit of variability in flower color. Most honeywort blossoms are purple to blue, but you may come across creams and even yellows.

Honeywort Overview

Genus Name Cerinthe major 'Purpurascens'
Common Name Honeywort
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color Blue, Purple, White, Yellow
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Propagation Seed
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Honeywort

Full sun is best to grow the most vibrant honeyworts, but plants can tolerate light shade. They prefer rich, well-drained soil but aren't fussy. Honeywort looks good in borders where the gray-green foliage provides a pretty backdrop for vibrantly-colored flowering groundcover.

How and When to Plant Honeywort

Honeywort is usually available at retail as seeds rather than potted plants. They can be started indoors in the spring, several weeks before the last average frost date in your region. Space each seedling 12 to 18 inches apart in the garden once the threat of frost has passed.

If you already have honeywort, they will produce large black seeds that fall to the ground, germinate in autumn, and create a nice stand of plants. Collect the seeds for sowing next spring in cooler climates where these plants will die from freezing temperatures.

Honeywort Care Tips


Full sun for five or six hours a day will help to give honeyworts the most intense blue-colored bracts possible. However, too much shade can cause honeywort to become quite leggy,

Soil and Water

Honeywort tolerates various 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. Once established, honeywort can handle the occasional drought, but supplemental watering is beneficial.

Temperature and Humidity

The optimal temperature for honeywort is between 65ºF and 75ºF. It prefers similarly moderate humidity. While it will do fine in temperatures above and below, it won't survive frost and freeze.


Fertilize container-grown honeywort once a month. In the garden, fertilizer isn't necessary, but an organic compost is beneficial. Amend the soil when planting.


Honeywort doesn't need pruning, unless leaves are yellowing.

Potting and Repotting Honeywort

Honeywort grows well in pots. Choose one with adequate drainage to prevent root rot. When growing honeywort in containers, use a general-purpose potting mix; the plant will need regular watering when grown in a pot, especially during warm summer weather. During the growing season, apply a general purpose liquid plant food according to product label instructions.

Pests and Problems

Other than common garden pests, honeywort doesn't have any big problems.

How to Propagate Honeywort

To propagate honeywort, plant seeds collected from plants existing plants 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.

Types of Honeywort

'Kiwi Blue' Honeywort

Easier to find as a seed than a potted plant, Kiwi Blue (Cerinthe major subsp. purpurascens "Kiwi Blue") has bluer bracts than other varieties.

'Purple Belle' Honeywort

One of the most popular varieties, C. major subsp. purpurascens 'Purple Belle' grows magenta bell-shaped bracts over blue-gray leaves. It self-seeds readily.

'Pride of Gibralter' Honeywort

Nodding clusters of blue bracts on graceful gray-green stems make unique additions to cut flower bouquets. Pride of Gibralter (C. major 'Pride of Gibralter) is a hardy annual that bees love.

Honeywort Companion Plants


white angelonia blooms
David Speer

Angelonia is also called summer snapdragon. It has salvia-like flower spires that reach 1 or 2 feet high, and the plants are studded with snapdragon-like flowers with colorations in purple, white, or pink. It's the perfect choice for adding bright color to hot, sunny spaces. Keep an eye out for the sweetly scented selections. While most gardeners treat angelonia as an annual, it is a tough perennial in warmer climates. Or, if you have a bright, sunny spot indoors, you can even keep it flowering all winter. Zones 9-10


pink heuchera coralbells with path in background
Peter Krumhardt

Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells good groundcover plants. Zones 3-9

Lamb's Ear

Lamb's Ears
Stephen Cridland

Lamb's-ear is a top pick for a groundcover in a hot, baked spot. Its silver-felted foliage quickly forms a dense mat. It also contrasts nicely with other foliage and most flowers. However, depending on the type and your growing conditions, it may self-sow freely to the point of becoming a bother. In hot, humid climates, lamb's ears may "melt down" in summer, becoming brown and limp. Zones 4-9

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does honeywort attract wildlife?

    Honeywort attracts pollinators with their nectar-rich flowers. It's deer-resistant.

  • Why does my honeywort have white spots?

    New growth of honeywort has white mottling. The white fades as the plant grows and matures.

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