What Is: Ageratum?

COMMON NAME: ageratum
GENUS: Ageratum
A. houstonianum. Blue hybrids: Blue Blazer, Blue Angel, Blue Mink, Blue Surf, Midget Blue, Florist’s Blue. White; Album, Summer Snow, Mexican White. Purple: Royal Blazer. Pink: Fairy Pink, Pinkie.
FAMILY: Compositae
BLOOMS: summer and fall
TYPE: annual
DESCRIPTION: Ageratum hybrids vary in height from 5 to 24 inches. Their spread is generally 6 to 9 inches. Individual flowers are clustered tightly and resemble small powder puffs.
CULTIVATION: Seeds should be sown in the garden in early May. Press the seeds firmly into the seedbed, but do not cover them, for they need light to germinate. It takes approximately ten days for the seeds to germinate. To start seeds indoors, sow them in March and allow the plants to become well established {two to three sets of true leaves} before you transplant them into the garden. Ageratum will thrive in full sun or partial shade.
Ageratum is native to Central America. It’s attractive blooms last a long time before they start to look old. This fact is reflected in the name, which is from Greek words a, meaning “not,” and geras meaning “old.” It has also been suggested that to eat the flower would keep a person from getting old.
Dwarf varieties of ageratum are particularly popular as edging plants. Taller varieties look spectacular with yellow chrysanthemums in the fall garden.
Ageratum is also known as floss flower.
There are about forty-five species of annual herbs in the genus, all native to South America. Many species reseed easily and are marvelous to include in a naturalized setting for good fall color. Hybridized varieties are often available in spring and are excellent to use as bedding plants throughout spring and summer and into fall.