Showy Chinese gentian – planting, care and tips

Showy Chinese gentian (Gentiana sino-ornata)
Showy Chinese gentian (Gentiana sino-ornata)

The showy Chinese gentian brings color to the garden late in the year. Here are tips on planting and caring for the robust and undemanding perennial.

Profile of showy Chinese gentian:

Scientific name: Gentiana sino-ornata

Plant family: gentian family (Gentianaceae)

Sowing time: autumn

Planting time: spring

Flowering period: September to November

Location: shady to no direct sun

Soil quality: stony to gravel, nutrient rich, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, group planting, planters, borders, heather garden, rock garden, potted garden, Alpinum

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of showy Chinese gentian

Plant order, origin and occurrence

The showy Chinese gentian (Gentiana sino-ornata) belongs botanically to the enormous genus of gentians from the gentian family (Gentianaceae). It comes from China, where it only grows in high mountain areas.

Characteristics of showy Chinese gentian


The slowly growing perennial is between 10 and 15 centimeters (4 and 6 in) high and just as wide. The plant forms carpet-like cushions with trailing shoots, some of which root.


The lush green leaves are narrowly linear and pointed at the front.


Showy Chinese gentian flowers in autumn, more precisely from September to November. Then it adorns itself with magnificent cup-shaped flowers, which are colored deep blue on the inside and striped blue on the outside.


After flowering, inconspicuous capsules are formed that contain the seeds

Showy Chinese gentian – cultivation and care


A very bright location, but not directly exposed to the sun is ideal for the autumn gentian.


The flower makes certain demands on the garden soil: It must be free of lime and acidic, and rich in humus and nutrients. It is also important that it is well-drained and permanently fresh to moist.


Keep a planting distance of 20 centimeters (8 in). There are 24 to 26 autumn gentians per square meter (10 sq ft.). The Best time for planting is spring.


In the case of long drought, you should water, but only with lime-free water or rainwater.


The showy Chinese gentian can easily be multiplied by division in spring.


If the plant is cut back in autumn, it will sprout again vigorously in spring.


Showy Chinese gentian can be propagated by dividing in spring or by cuttings in early summer. Sowing is also possible. In order to get to the seeds, however, you have to remove the flowers while they are withering.

Diseases and pests

Typical pests such as snails or aphids can also be fatal for the autumn gentian. If the location is too wet, there is a risk of stem rot. Occasionally, gentian rust also occurs.


It is a perennial plant that is hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as -20 °C / -5 °F.

Use in the garden

Atumn gentian fits perfectly into an Alpinum, a special form of rock garden in which only alpine plants are planted. In addition, the showy Chinese gentian is an enrichment for every autumn garden and can be combined well with the late-blooming erica.


In addition to the species, there are many attractive varieties of the showy Chinese gentianon the market, some of which have double flowers.

  • ‘Alba’ flowers in pure white
  • ‘Bellatrix’ has white flowers with blue spots
  • ‘Blue dwarf’grows more compactly than the species
  • ‘Excelsior’ has very large blue flowers with a white center
  • ‘Pilate’s spirit’ blooms profusely in sky blue
  • ‘Praecox’ flowers a good three weeks earlier


  1. Good morning..

    I have just received seed (Jan 19th 2022) from the Czech Republic..I am going to try and gerninate…I see thet should’ve been planted to germinate in the fall…any tips that will insure success will be highly appreciated Thank you…I’m reading everything..

    • Hi.
      It is recommended to expose the seeds to a cooling period of 2-4 weeks, if they do not germinate. Planting should be done outdoors in spring.
      I hope this will help. Wish you best luck for it.

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