Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus
Common Name: small globe thistle 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Central and eastern Europe, western and central Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

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.

Noteworthy Characteristics

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.

Subsp. ruthenicus grows more compact (to 30” tall) than the species, and features larger flowers (to 2.5” diameter) and coarse, deeply cut basal leaves. Basal leaves (to 6-8” long) are glossy green above and white-lanate beneath. This subspecies is native from southeastern Europe and southern Russia to eastern China. Synonymous with and formerly known as Echinops ruthenicus.

Genus name comes from the Greek words echinos meaning a hedgehog and ops meaning appearance in reference to the flower heads.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Taller stems may need staking, particularly if grown in rich, fertile soils.

Garden Uses

Sunny borders, cottage gardens, cutting gardens.