Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’

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Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’—a unique Impatiens alternative 

Browallia should sound familiar because we’ve offered it in the past and only stopped recently. Typically grown from seed, 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.

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Breeders have intensified the color and increased the blooms

‘Endless Illumination’ is actually grown from a cutting, not seed, so right away we end up with better and more consistent genetics. Proven Winners introduced the plant 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. It now deserves renewed attention and respect. If you have not tried Browallia before, give this a shot in your shade gardens.

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Dark blue-purple expands our color choices for shade

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. It expands our color choices for shade, especially if you need 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.

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Flowers grow among the foliage rather than up on top

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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People are talking about the vibrant color of ‘Endless Illumination’

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 landscape

Generally speaking, Browallia is more widely known as a container plant. When using it in the landscape 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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Plant several in a bed for the Impatiens effect

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.

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An exotic sidekick for innovative designs

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.

Browallia ‘Endless Illumination’ is available in the 4.5-inch pot. Torenia ‘Catalina® Pink’ comes in the 4.5-inch size as well. Ipomoea ‘Illusion Emerald Lace’ is available in the 6-inch pot.

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Diefenbacher Greenhouses is a supplier of annuals and creative green goods. We sell directly to Garden Centers and Landscapers in the Cincinnati Area. 

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