Architectural, erect stately plants with thistle-like leaves and round 'drumstick' flower heads. Ideal for middle or back of the border.
Family: Asteraceae (daisy)
Botanical Name: Echinops (e-kee-nops)
Common Names: Globe thistle
Foliage: Stiff, vertical branching stems bearing divided grey-green foliage. Deciduous.
Flowers: Blue globular flower heads that appear spiny before opening.
Flowering Period: July-August.
Soil: Well-drained deep soil (chalk, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.
Habit: Bushy, upright.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Origin: Europe and Asia
Hardiness: Most varieties are fully hardy in the UK.
Easy to grow and not too fussy about soil, so long as it is deep and well drained. They will thrive in full sun or partial shade. The stems and leaves a prickly so wear gloves when handling.
Ideal for the front/middle of a mixed herbaceous border.
Both the flowers and foliage are useful in flower arranging and for preserving.
Stake plants securely as they grow and shelter from strong wind.
Deadhead regularly to prevent self-seeding.
Can be affected by Aphids. Generally disease free.
Sow seed in a prepared seedbed around mid spring. Alternatively, lift and divide established clumps in October-March.
Root cuttings can also be taken when the plants are dormant in late autumn.
Most varieties of Globe Thistle are tallish to medium in height. If you are looking for something similar but lower growing try Eryngium.
Echinops bannaticus (blue globe-thistle) a robust upright form with intense blue round flowers. Cultivar 'Taplow Blue' is a popular choice. Height to 5ft (1.5m). For sale at Crocus.
Echinops niveus has grey green leaves and grey stems, with pale blue or white flowers. Height to 5ft (1.5m). Variety 'Arctic Glow' is an attractive white version.
Echinops ritro is an upright perennial with ragged thistle-like dark green leaves. Rounded heads of steel-blue flowers appear in July-August. Height to 4ft (1.2m), spread to 2ft (60cm). For sale at Van Meuwen. Variety 'Ruthenicus' is a more compact form with dark blue flowers. For sale at Thompson & Morgan. 'Cultivar 'Veitch's Blue' is another compact variety with rich blue flowers.