Onopordum- Cotton Thistle

Imposing biennials, distinctly grey in appearance.


As specimen plants but, because of their useful grey colour, also in borders. Full sun is essential for vigorous growth.


The cotton thistle will grow in pure sand, but will then remain smaller. In over-rich soil the grey colour will be less attractive.


Sow in early summer, in a shady seed-bed.

Prick out once and transfer to their permanent position in early autumn. The plants will also seed themselves.

Onopordum bracteatum syn Onopordum arabicum: Height to 2.5 m, elliptical leaves, irregularly incised, spiny, short-stalked or sessile; they are entirely covered in grey felt; the stems are winged and thorny. Purple flower-heads. To prevent the plants sowing themselves too widely, it is advisable to remove the flowers.

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