Eryngium – Sea Holly

Eryngium, commonly known as Sea Holly, the flowers are useful in a dry form for Christmas decoration, when, apart from their natural colour, which varies from silver-grey to steel blue, they look well when painted or gilded.

The plants must be given a sunny situation and a really good, deeply moved soil, since their thong-like roots go down deeply, but they are adaptable, in that given plenty of room for their roots they will grow in almost any type of soil. Because of their unusual habit they always look well when planted in the border. It is best to propagate by taking root cuttings, 2 or 3 in. long, and inserting in a sandy soil, either in boxes or under the cold frame.


As to varieties, E. alpinum, growing 4 ft high, is particularly good, with steel-blue, cone-shaped heads, having many well-divided, attractive bracts at their base. E. oliverianum, which grows to between 3 and 4 ft, has well-branched stems and large bright steel-blue cones. Eryngium planum is another good sort, with rather smaller cones, while E. tripartitum is a most vigorous, free-flowering species, producing an abundance of very well-branched stems, which make the plants, of up to 4 ft in height most attractive with their shiny blue cones.

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