Echinop – Globe Thistle

Echinops, or Globe Thistles, are not difficult to grow or propagate. They should be planted up in a sunny position in a good, deep soil, since the thong-like roots often penetrate deeply. With this condition fulfilled and good drainage provided, no other special requirement is necessary. Echinops invariably provide a remarkable show, and it is somewhat surprising that they are not seen in gardens more frequently. The thistle-like heads are handsomely formed, with little evenly placed points so typical of the thistle. These heads have a metallic lustre which makes them showy in the garden and most decorative in their dried state, when they are used for indoor decoration during the winter.

Another reason why echinops are deserving of wider cultivation is that not only do they themselves improve in appearance when grown with other plants in the border or shrubbery, but they show up the other subjects to advantage.

Globe Thistle - Echinop

Propagation is done by cutting up the thong-like roots or by removing the very freely produced eyes or buds which appear on the roots. Where the plants are not required for propagation and can be left undisturbed for 2 or 3 years or more, they will produce flower spikes in abundance.

E. ritro is probably the most widely grown variety nowadays. This grows just over 3 ft high, and its bright blue, polished-looking heads are much in demand as everlasting flowers. A rather darker blue, known as ‘Taplow Blue’, growing 4-5 ft high, produces its bright blue flower heads in July, while the large E. giganteus 6 ft, has greyish-white heads. Less common is E. sphaerocephalus, the silvery-white form, which is sometimes seen at flower shows, although I do not think it has nearly the same appeal as the coloured forms.

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