Annuals and rhizomatous perennials, some of which are semi-evergreen grown for their, sometimes decorative leaves, and flowers. Clumps of linear to sword-shaped, mostly basal leaves, often forming a fan shape. Upright, often winged stems, bear in spring and summer, star-, cup- or shallow trumpet-shaped, blue, yellow, mauve, white or sometimes pink flowers, either singly or in clusters. Can be grown in rock or gravel gardens, or mixed borders. Best in full sun and poorish, well drained, slightly alkaline soil. Some self-seed freely. Many are shallow rooted and can die suddenly.