Common Name: small globe thistle
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 3.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including poor, infertile, dry ones, as long as well-drained. Avoid rich soils. This is a taprooted plant that is difficult to divide or transplant.
Echinops ritro is a clump-forming, 4-foot tall plant with golf ball sized blue flower heads atop stiff, rigid stems clad with deeply lobed, dark green, thistle-like foliage. Globular, thistle-like, deep steel blue flower heads (1-2” diameter) bloom at the stem tops in summer. Coarse, spiny, deeply-dissected, gray-green leaves are white tomentose beneath. Basal leaves grow to 6-8” long, but stem leaves grow shorter.
Genus name comes from the Greek words echinos meaning a hedgehog and ops meaning appearance in reference to the flower heads.
‘Veitch’s Blue’ grows slightly smaller (3-3.5’ tall) and features darker blue flowers and more abundant flowering than the species.
No serious insect or disease problems. Taller stems may need staking, particularly if grown in rich, fertile soils. Plants can be left undivided for years.
Provides good color and contrast in the perennial border, especially toward the back, or in the cut flower garden.