How to grow echiums

How to grow echiums

Find out all you need to know about growing echiums, in this detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do not Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December


Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December


Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Echiums are related to borage and share similar characteristics, such as hairy stems and leaves, and nectar-rich flowers that are loved by pollinating insects. There are around 40 species of Echium that grow across Europe and Asia. These range from the common Echium vulgare, also known as viper’s bugloss (the seed looks a little like a snake’s head), to the gigantic Echium pininana or tree echium, that can grow to around 5m. The taller varieties originate from the Canary islands so will only grow in similar conditions and need protecting in the UK. However, they will usually self-seed prolifically, so will colonise your garden if allowed to. Be careful when handling, as the sap can irritate the skin and all parts of the plant are toxic if eaten.

Where to plant echiums

How to grow echiums - echium flower with bumblebee
How to grow echiums – echium flower with bumblebee

Echiums need free draining soil to enable them survive wet winters. They thrive in full sun but will tolerate shadier situations – they might get a little misshapen as they grow in the direction of the light. You can grow them in large containers and this may be the best option for the more tender varieties, as they will need to be overwintered indoors.

This is Secret Garden content

This content is exclusive to subscribers. If you are not a subscriber you can access this content by subscribing to Gardeners' World.

Unlock now