How to Grow Echinops — Globe Thistle

Globe thistle Echniops

Echinops–commonly called globe thistle-has globe-shaped, spiky metallic blue flower heads in late summer. This upright perennial has prickly, divided green leaves.

Echinops flower heads are spherical, about the size of a golf ball. Flowers appear on erect stems. Echinops leaves are spiky, usually grayish-white and wooly. Leaves are deeply cut, prickly, and up to a foot long.

Echinops is an undemanding plant suitable for large borders, meadows, wild gardens. Echinops want a sunny, warm site in well-drained, average soil. For best growth, keep the soil evenly moist.

Echinops can grow undivided in the sam place for many years.

The Echinops genus contains about 120 species of perennials, biennials, and annuals.

Echinops ritro, small globe thistle
Echinops ritro, small globe thistle

Get to know Echinops

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 3-8
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Height and width: 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) tall; 2 to 3 feet (.6-1m) wide
  • Foliage: Spiny leaves, deeply cut and pirckly up to a foot long; usually grayish-white and wooly
  • Flowers: Spiky spheres with bristly bracts on erect stems
  • Flower color: Lavender or steely blue
  • Bloom time: Mid- or late-summer
  • Uses: Combine with ornamental grasses; interesting foliage texture; use in mixed borders
  • Common name: Globe Thistle
  • Botanical name: Echinops species
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Origin: Grasslands of Europe and Asia

Where to plant Echinops

  • Grow Echinops in full sun.
  • Plant Echinops in average to poor, well-drained soil. Good drainage is important in winter.

Echinops uses and companions

  • Plant Echinops in groups in a formal or informal garden for the best effect.
  • Echinops is an excellent dried flower.
  • Good garden companions for Echinops include Achillea, Gypsophila paniculata, Helenium autumnale, Papaver orientale, Rudbeckia.
Globe thistle flowers, Echinops ritro
Globe thistle flowers, Echinops ritro

When to plant Echinops

  • Set established Echinops in spring or autumn.
  • Sow seed in spring in evenly prepared soil.

Planting and spacing Echinops

  • Space globe Echinops 2 to 3 feet (.6-1m) apart.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep.
  • Echinops does not like transplanting to situate plants where they will grow to maturity.

How to water and feed Echinops

  • Give Echinops moderate water; plants will tolerate drought when they mature.
  • Echinops does not require feeding.

Echinops care

  • Echinops will grow tall in rich soil and will need staking.
  • Remove spent blooms. to encourage re-blooming.
  • Divide plants in spring or fall every 3 to 4 years as needed.
  • Echinops is usually pest-free.

Echinops pests and diseases

  • Echinops is susceptible to infestation by aphids.
Echinops ritro, small globe thistle
Echinops ritro, small globe thistle

Echinops propagation

  • Sow seed in spring. Echinops seeds will germinate in about 14 days at 55°-72°F (18°-22°C).
  • Divide perennials from autumn to spring or insert root cuttings in autumn.

Echinops varieties to grow

  • Echinops bannaticus: Grows 1.5 to 4 feet tall and forms a clump 2 feet wide; bears violet-blue to blue-gray flower heads from mid to late summer; cultivar ‘Taplow Blue’ is very popular.
  • E. ritro, small globe thistle: Compact growth to 2 feet tall; bears blue-purple flower heads in mid to late summer; cultivar ‘Veitch’s Blue’ has dark metallic blue flowers.
  • E. sphaerocephalus: Large clump-forming species that grows to 6 feet tall and half as wide; bears silver-gray flower heads on gray stems in mid- and late-summer.

Echinops ritro — Globe-thistle

Echinops makes an unusual statement in both color and shape in mid-and late summer when its perfectly round metallic blue flowers bloom. Echinops sweet nectar attracts bees on sunny days and moths at night. Echinops has thistlelike leaves that are dull green on top, spiny, and silvery white on the undersides. Globe-thistle looks especially striking combined with white flowers such as garden phlox, Boltonia, aster, and white coneflower.

  • Size: 2 to 4 feet tall; 2 ½ feet wide.
  • Light: Full sun best; tolerates part shade.
  • Soil and moisture: Average to poor, well-drained soil; best with moderate water, but tolerates drought.
  • Planting and propagation: Plant container-grown plants in spring, spacing 2 feet apart. Division not needed for at least three years.
  • Special care: May need staking in rich soil. Cut back hard after the first flowering for the second flush. To dry flower heads, cut before individual flowers open and hang upside down.
  • Pest and diseases: Usually pest-free.
  • Climate: Zones 3-8; tolerates heat.
  • Cultivars: ‘Taplow Blue,’ soft silvery blue; ‘Veitch’s Blue,’ numerous small darker violet-blue globes, 2 to 3 feet tall; ‘Taplow Purple,’ rich violet-blue, 3 feet tall.

Garden use: Plant in groups in formal gardens. Excellent dried flower.

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