Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’

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Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’—a unique Impatiens alternative

Blue Ribbon Browallia might sound familiar. It’s a great plant for the shade and has been around forever—we’d be willing to bet your Grandmother planted it. Impatiens always gets the attention in the shade, but with Downey Mildew in the picture this plant warrants another look.

Our ‘Endless Illumination’ from Proven Winners was introduced in 2006, and the breeders have kept improving on the older versions—they’ve intensified the color and increased the bloom size and bloom count. If you have not tried Browallia before, give it a whirl in your shade garden.

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Flowers bloom among the branches rather than on top of the plant

Bush violet and amethyst flower are common names for this plant and they pretty much tell it like it is. Dark blue-purple flowers bloom profusely on short, bushy mounds of foliage that stay around ankle height, about one to two feet. Browallia expands our color choices for shade, especially when looking for dark tones. While we use it as a substitute for Impatiens walleriana, deep blue is not typically found in Impatiens so ‘Endless Illumination’ turns out to be a rather exotic alternative.

You’ll notice that the star-shaped flowers bloom among the branches rather than on top of the plant so the foliage comes keenly into focus. It’s attractive, and has a lot of the bushy quality we like to see. Stems are covered right down to the ground so the plant is useful for combining with thinner elements to fluff up a display without getting too heavy—filling a common empty hole with a brilliant splash of color.

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Plant several in a bed for the Impatiens effect

This blue is truly eye-catching. In the reviews we’ve read, vibrant color shows up again and again as the major pro of ‘Endless Illumination’. Many gardeners have used it successfully underneath tall trees or as filler among perennials. They do warn, however, not to over water.

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It’s accustomed to containers so it needs some attention in the garden

Generally speaking, Browallia is more widely known as a container plant. When using it in the garden it requires a prepared bed and some regular maintenance. ‘Endless Illumination’ is a strong grower but it’s not a wildflower—it benefits from mulch and a dose of liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks. Water moderately but by all means, remember to water. This plant does not take well to being thirsty.

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Chartreuse makes a good companion for this vivid blue

When grown on its own the plant tends to form a small ball. We find that the best effect is created when several are planted in a bed so that they merge together. This results in a thick, cushy blanket of foliage that sits over the soil—it’s how we get an Impatiens-style bed when planting out Browallia.

Ipomoea ‘Illusion Emerald Lace’ and Torenia ‘Catalina® Pink’ make stunning companions for this deep blue. ‘Endless Illumination’ also makes a unique specimen. It has a quirky quality that allows it to take the role of the main character or, just as easily, the engaging sidekick.

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