Many biennial plants are so easy to overlook in their first year that they could easily be mistaken for weeds in the herb garden.. Viper’s Bugloss is well worth the wait as it becomes a real show stopper in the second year. In Europe, Viper’s Bugloss grows wild in fields and ditches
Viper’s Bugloss is a biennial herb that commonly found as a wildflower in Europe. First year Viper’s Bugloss could easily be mistaken for a weed. In the second year, Viper’s Bugloss becomes an upright plant with spikes of blue flowers. In poor soil, this herb will still reach at least a foot in height. In well nourished soil it can easily reach three feet in height. This is an excellent plant for wild gardens as it easily naturalizes.
Viper’s Bugloss is a hardy biennial in Zones 4 to 8. Although it starts easily from seed, I have found it helpful to label the unassuming first year seedlings so they do not wind up being weeded out of the garden. Space seedlings at least 18 to 24 inches apart to accommodate the second year growth.
Seeds do require sunlight to germinate, although I have found a bit of bottom heat for a few days when first starting the seeds to be very helpful. Helpful Hint …. although you can buy heat mats for starting seeds, it can be just as helpful to tuck the seed flat on top of the fridge.
This is a plant that prefers full sun and well drained soil. I have found that a generous top dressing of rich compost in the first fall to be very helpful for naturalizing.
Bumblebees REALLY love the showy second years spikes of flowers!
Although in olden days, Viper’s Bugloss was thought to be beneficial for snake bite, it is now valued more for its antiseptic properties. There is anecdotal evidence that infusions of the leaves can be used as a diuretic.