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Globe Thistle

Globe thistle

If you buy an extravagant globe thistle, you will set great accents in every planting display. With its impressive bright violet-blue or deep steel blue flower balls, it offers a proud statement in any perennial border and it is stunning in the background or the foreground. This easy to care for and sophisticated perennial is best grown on rather lean, dry soil in a sunny location. Globe thistle also offers a rich variety of nectar, which is useful to bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

This deciduous thistle of the genus Echinops usually has grey-green leaves and grows bushy and loose. The spectacular globular flowers appear between July and September and consist of a multitude of small, single flowers that gradually open. The inflorescences are perfect for cutting and they also look very nice in dry bouquets.

A Drought Tolerant Perennial for the Summer Garden

Whether planted alone or in a group, this perennial enriches every garden style. Due to its unique flower balls, beautiful contrasts to other flower shapes in the bed can be achieved. Globe thistle is gorgeous when it is combined with other sun-loving perennials such as mullein, yarrow, torch lily or Balkan Clary. Also, together with grasses, such as Atlas fescue (Festuca mairei) or feather grass (Stipa), a harmonious picture emerges. The numerous flower heads also look magical in a prairie garden design with Perovskia and yucca.

• The Ruthenian globe thistle (Echinops ritro) grows to a height between 80 and 100 centimetres and likes to reseed itself as a wild species in a natural-looking planting display.

• The Hungarian globe thistle 'Blue Glow' (Echinops bannaticus 'Blue Glow') has steel blue flowers and silver green foliage. It usually reaches a height and width of one metre.

   
 
Echinops bannaticus 'Blue Glow'

Blue globe thistle

From £5.90 *

No image available Echinops ritro

Globe thistle

From £4.40 *

   
 

Positive Aspects

Globe thistleThe genus Echinops belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae). At their natural habitats in Europe, Africa and Asia, these plants are often found on rocky slopes and in steppes. But only four species are interesting for the home garden. The Ruthenian version (Echinops ritro) is native to some parts of Central Europe and the Hungarian version (Echinops bannaticus) is found mainly in Southeastern Europe. The botanical genus name is composed of the Latin terms "echinus" (hedgehog) and "opsis" (appearance), due to the fact that the striking flowers are reminiscent of a rolled-up hedgehog.

The flowers present themselves as well-formed balls, which are equipped with small, bristle-shaped sheath leaflets. They appear in various shades of blue and white, with the Hungarian globe thistle and its varieties often having a particularly intense shade of blue.

• Undemanding perennial for sunny locations

• Grows even on lean, dry soil

• Thistle for the natural and ornamental garden

• Border perennial, for bed backgrounds, a perennial for open spaces and borders, cut plant

• Beautiful bee pasture

• Long flowering period from July to September

• Seed stands attractive even in the winter

Location and Soil

These plants are very stable on dry, rather barren locations.

A location in full sun is optimal for the heat-loving globe thistle, but it can also develop well in a partially shaded site. It loves permeable, lean and calcareous soils (pH values ​​from 8 to 10), but also copes with normal garden soil. However, very nutrient-rich and too moist substrates can increase the plant's stability and susceptibility to diseases and pests. Sandy-loamy, loose gravel or clay soils are ideal, as this thistle wants to develop deep roots.

Planting and Care

If you buy a globe thistle, it will reward you by being an easy-care and undemanding perennial. The plants have a very good frost hardiness of down to -40 degrees Celsius – an autumn planting is therefore possible and is often recommended. Before planting, loosen up the soil well because of the deep roots! Four to five plants in one square metre give most species and varieties enough space for development.

On soils that are too greasy and/or too moist, it may be useful to tie down the plants in order to support them. In the winter you can protect the perennial from moisture using pine sprigs. Fertilisation should be done sparingly, if at all.

When growing this plant in a pot or container, you should water rarely, but penetratingly.

Cutting Echinops

If globe thistles (Echinops ritro and bannaticus) are radically cut back after flowering, they will reliably form a second time after about six to seven weeks.

Due to the stability in the winter, the plants should only be cut close to the ground in the spring. The seeds are also pretty to look at in the cold season and also offer food for some feathered species.

If necessary, wear gloves, as although this thistle does not have any thorns, its foliage can be a bit prickling.

For Floristry

The pretty balls are cut best when a colour is already visible, but the flowers are still closed – especially if they are intended for dry arrangements. In a vase, the inflorescences look beautiful for several days. Even in autumn, the last flowers can be dried wonderfully.

Dividing and Multiplying

These plants are very durable. If you want to multiply them by division, the best time to do this in is the spring. This perennial also likes to reseed itself if it is a wild species (e.g. Echinops ritro).

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