Echinops with bumblebee

How to grow echinops

Find out all you need to know about growing echinops (globe thistle), 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
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not 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

Plant
Plant

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

Flowers
Flowers

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 not 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

Divide
Divide

Do not Divide in January

Do not Divide in February

Do Divide in March

Do Divide in April

Do Divide in May

Do not Divide in June

Do not Divide in July

Do not Divide in August

Do Divide in September

Do Divide in October

Do Divide in November

Do not Divide in December

Echinops or globe thistle, has spiky leaves and bristly, round flowerheads.

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The spiny, cobwebbed leaves provide interest from spring until the striking spherical blooms appear in late summer. Echinops is best at the back of a border and looks good combined with other late summer-flowering plants such as cardoon and echinacea or tall miscanthus grasses. It’s also well suited to growing in gravel gardens and wildlife areas as it’s a magnet for bees and other pollinating insects.

Take a look at our start-to-finish guide to growing echinops, below.


Where to grow echinops

Echinops growing with veronicastrum and perovskia
Echinops growing with veronicastrum and perovskia

Echinops originate from the Mediterranean region, so for best results grow in free-draining soil in full sun.


Planting echinops

Potting on an echinops seedling
Potting on an echinops seedling

You can sow echinops seed in spring, either in situ or in modules, or if you buy as small plant, dig a generous hole, larger than the pot and add a handful of grit to boost drainage. Follow our step by step guide to planting perennials.


Propagating echinops

Digging up a self-sown seedling to pot on
Digging up a self-sown seedling to pot on

Echinops will self-seed freely and you can collect seed in autumn. Alternatively you can divide plants in autumn or spring, or take root cuttings when dormant. Follow our step-by-step guide to taking root cuttings. Some echinops can be propagated by division in spring and autumn. Watch Sarah Raven demonstrate how to divide herbaceous perennials.


Echinops: problem solving

Echinops growing with sidalcea
Echinops growing with sidalcea

Echinops can be prone to attracting aphids, but have no known diseases.


Caring for echinops

Echinops growing with stipa, achillea, verbena and echinacea
Echinops growing with stipa, achillea, verbena and echinacea

Echinops don’t need any special treatment other than cutting back after flowering. Sometimes, this can encourage a second flush of blooms. You may need to stake taller varieties, but only if your garden is a little more exposed and windy. If clumps become congested, lift and divide them in autumn or spring.


Echinops varieties to grow

Echinops ritro 'Veitch's Blue'
Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’
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  • ‘Veitch’s Blue’ – with tight globes of deep blue flowers, it’s extremely attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects, and makes an excellent cut flower
  • ‘Taplow Blue’ – this has been bred from the Hungarian bannaticus species of echinops. ‘Taplow Blue’ is very robust with intense blue flowers
  • ‘Arctic Glow’ – this variety has white flowerheads, as its name suggests