Nolana Paradox

You might mistake Nolana for a morning glory at first glance, but this flowering plant is actually a separate species, sometimes referred to as the Chilean bellflower. With blue or violet blooms and a tendency to creep, this plant makes a great groundcover plant or a flowering spiller in a container. It’s an annual in cool-weather climates and a perennial in warmer areas (hardiness zones 10 and 11).

It’s interesting to note that this plant is actually a member of the nightshade family. You might know nightshades by their edible types, like tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. This type of nightshade, however, gains its fame for its beautiful blooms all summer long.

Botanical Name – Nolana

Common Name –  Chilean bellflower

Plant Type – Annual or perennial

Mature Size – 6 to 12 inches tall and wide

Sun Exposure – Full to part sun

Soil Type – Well-drained

Soil pH – Slightly acidic

Bloom Time – Summer

Flower Color – Blue, blue-violet, pink

Hardiness Zones – 10, 11

Native Area – Chile and Peru

Nolana is a sun-loving plant and thrives when planted in full sun. This plant requires 8 hours of sunlight a day for best blooming. It might survive, but won’t thrive, if planted in partial shade.

While nolana is tolerant of a variety of soil types (including sandy or rocky conditions), one condition it cannot tolerate is too much water. Be sure that you plant it in very well-drained soil, otherwise it might be subject to rot.

Drought tolerance makes nolana a great option for raised garden beds, container gardens, and rock walls, if sufficient drainage is in place. Use a layer of gravel to enhance drainage and ensure that its roots don’t become waterlogged.

Nolana plants are moisture management masters and they don’t require much in the way of regular watering. The foliage of these plants excretes salt and features hairy filaments on the underside of the leaves, which serves to attract moisture.

Do not water nolana on a regular basis unless there is a period of intense heat with little or no rainfall. If you notice that the blooms begin to wilt, you can lightly water the plant. 

Native to Chile and Peru, nolana does best in hot, dry climates. The plant is well-suited to making the most of very little water and dry soil is preferred to overly damp conditions.

In an ideal climate (typically hardiness zones 10 and 11), this plant is a hardy perennial. However, it also grows well across a variety of climates as a lovely annual. If you’re willing to replant nolana each year, you can grow this plant in hardiness zones 2 through 9 as well. 

There’s no real need to fertilize nolana. This plant does a lot with a little, is happiest to grow in well-drained soil, and isn’t particular about nutrient levels. If it’s receiving sufficient sun, you can expect to enjoy beautiful blooms all summer long without any fertilizer.

Tags: flowers, plants

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