Low-growing shade lovers with quiet charm. In many kinds, foliage is attractively dappled with gray or silver. The long-stalked leaves are mostly in basal clumps, though there are a few on the flower stalks. Plants bloom in spring (just before leaves appear or as they emerge), bearing drooping clusters of funnel-shaped, typically blue or purplish flowers. After flowering finishes, more leaves arise from the base of the clump. If plants are well watered, foliage will remain ornamental through the growing season. All have creeping roots and can be used as small-scale ground covers or edgings for beds or woodland paths. Look good beneath spring-flowering trees, in combination with ferns, azaleas, rhododendrons, blue scillas, pink tulips. Need moist, well-drained, organically enriched soil. Clumps may become crowded after a few years; divide them in early fall.
P. angustifolia. COWSLIP LUNGWORT. Native to Europe. To 812 in. high, 1 ft. wide, with narrowish dark green leaves and bright blue flowers that open from pink buds. 'Azurea' (P. a. azurea) has sky-blue blossoms.
P. hybrids. Most are usually about a foot high and twice as wide.
'Dark Vadar'. To 812 in. high, 1 ft. wide. Thick, dark green leaves with large silver pots. Blue, purple or pink flowers.
'Janet Fisk'. Leaves that are silvery almost all over. Pink flowers aging to blue.
'Lewis Palmer' ('Highdown'). Early blooming with deep blue blossoms; spotted leaves.
'Mrs. Moon'. An old favorite with large silvery leaves. Pink flowers age to blue.
'Pierre's Pure Pink'. Shiny, spotted leaves and pink blossoms.
'Raspberry Splash'. Stiffly upright, narrow green leaves spotted with silver. Bright raspberry purple flowers open from burgundy buds.
'Roy Davidson'. Resembles P. longifolia 'Bertram Anderson' but has slightly wider leaves and flowers that open pink before deepening to blue.
'Silver Bouquet'. To 6 in. high, 2 ft. wide. Beautiful, lance-shaped silver leaves. Flowers change from pink to blue as they mature.
'Sissinghurst White'. Leaves spotted white. Large white flowers.
'Smoky Blue'. Bears blue flowers atop deep green, white-spotted leaves.
'Trevi Fountain'. Long, silver-spotted leaves give rise to abundant cobalt blue flowers.
P. longifolia. Native to the British Isles, western Europe. To 812 in. high, 1 ft. wide. Slender leaves to 20 in. long are deep green spotted with silver. Blooms a little later than other species; flowers are purplish blue. 'Bertram Anderson' has deep blue blossoms.
P. rubra. RED LUNGWORT. Hairy, unspotted, light green leaves to 2 ft. long, 5 in. wide; clumps can reach 3 ft. across. Blooms very early in spring, sending up flowering stems to 16 in. tall; blossoms are typically red, but there are also selections with blue or white blooms. The following reach 1 ft. high: 'Bowles Red', with deep red to rosy coral flowers and leaves spotted in lime-green; 'David Ward', brick-red blossoms and white-edged leaves; and 'Redstart', bearing blossoms in an interesting shade between salmon and brick-red.
P. saccharata. BETHLEHEM SAGE. To 11 ft. high, 2 ft. wide, with broadly oval, pointed leaves in medium green spotted with silver. Blue flowers open from pink buds.