Phacelia tanacetifolia the basics
One thing is true – phacelia is a bee friendly wonder plant. This pollinator loving annual is great for any garden. Whether you sow just a small patch, several areas or use it as a cover crop or green manure on larger beds over winter it will do wonders for local pollinators, including bees. Dependant on position, its height can vary from anywhere between 20-120 cm.
It has a blue flower, not too dissimilar to lavender, which unfurls and continues to flower over a 6-8 week period. It is vastly popular with bees, hoverflies and many other pollinating insects. Interestingly, hoverflies will eat garden pests such as aphids which also makes phacelia an important addition in an organic garden as a part of an integrated pest management approach.
It is one of my all-time favourite plants to have in a flower border or food growing beds. In my view, it simply is a must for any serious gardener to have in their collection.
There are a few well known common names for Phacelia tanacetifolia. These include fiddleneck, lacy phacelia, blue tansy and purple tansy.
If you know of any other which I could add to this list then I would love for you to get in touch.
How to germinate Phacelia tanacetifolia
Phacelia seed is negatively photoblastic, meaning that that will only germinate in the darkness. So just scattering them on the soil surface will not lead to any significant results.
Seeds need to be sown at a depth of around 13 mm for best results. I have two techniques which have worked really well for me. After clearing the bed, in which I want to sow my phacelia, of any perennial weeds and their roots. Then I thinly scatter the seed onto the bed and either cover with a layer of compost at around 13 mm or I rake in gently. Both techniques, for me, have had very similar results.