Sunday, January 3, 2010

Skyflower - Hydrolea corymbosa

Few flowers can match the rich blue color of skyflower (Hydrolea corymbosa) and its common name is as perfect as any in the plant world.  Skyflower is common to all of Florida's peninsula and a few counties of the panhandle.  It is a plant of the southeast coastal plan and is restricted to Florida, Alabama, Georgia and parts of South Carolina. 
Skyflower is a wetland plant and requires moist soils which may have shallow standing water for much of the year.  In these conditions, it may be quite abundant, but it often goes largely unnoticed except when it is in bloom. 
Skyflower is a perennial which dies back to the ground each winter.  It makes its appearance each spring, but it is a rather weak foliage plant and tends to stay rather low to the ground.  The leaves are small and rounded, becoming more elliptical near the flowers. 
The brilliant sky-blue flowers occur during the summer months.  Each bloom is about an inch across and somewhat cup-shaped.  They also tend to be held skyward.  Several flowers can be open on any one day and blooming occurs over several weeks.  The flowers fade rapidly as the day progresses so it is best appreciated during the morning hours; not the late afternoon.
Because it is not a plant for typical home-landscape soils, skyflower is not widely available in the native plant nursery trade.  It is well worth search for, however, if you can provide it the wet to evenly moist soils it requires to prosper.  If happy, it will slowly spread by underground suckering - but, these suckers are not aggressive and this plant will never become a nuisance.  Skyflower is largely pollinated by bees and is not an especially effective nectar source for butterflies. 

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