Trichostema lanatum (Woolly Blue Curls) - A native California sub-shrub that grows to 3-4+ feet tall and sprawls to 4-5 feet with narrow aromatic leaves that are shiny green above and woolly white underneath. From late spring through summer appear the 1-foot-long clusters of typically blue flowers with long recurved stamens. The bloom period can extend into fall with a little supplemental summer watering (only when soil drains adequately).
Plant in full sun in a very well-drained lean soil. Irrigate regularly only to get established in the first year and sparingly after as it will not tolerate summer moisture in heavy soils. Do not amend or fertilize heavily. Hardy to 10 degrees F without freezing back and has been known to recover from the base at temperatures down to below zero. Gets a little leggy with age and benefits from early pruning. A very attractive but often short lived plant that is a must in the native garden where conditions are good for it. It also makes a great cut flower for the vase. Our plants from seed that exhibits some variability in flower color from nearly white to dark violet blue.
Wooly Blue Curls is native to our California oak woodlands, chaparral and coastal sage scrub communities in the southern portions of the state, usually within the coastal ranges. It is considered to be a "fire follower" and as such exhibits rapid early growth and is usually not very long lived.
The genus Trichostema based on the type species Trichostema dichotomum from Virginia, was published in Linnaeus’ Corollarium Genera Plantarum in 1737 with the name credited to the Dutch botanist Johan Frederik Gronovius. The name for the genus is from the Latin words 'trichos' meaning "hair" and 'stema' meaning "stamens" in reference to its long hair-like stamens and the specific epithet means covered with long, woolly hair. Another listed common name for this plant is Romero, which comes from the similarities between Rosemary (Romero) and Trichostema lanatum, that were noted during the Portola expedition in 1769. Other names include California Rosemary and American Wild Rosemary.
We have grown this attractive but somewhat finicky plant since 1992 and also grow a hybrid between it and the Mexican species Trichostema purpusii that is called Trichostema 'Midnight Magic'.
Information about Trichostema lanatum displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.