Globe thistle, also known as echinops, is a striking addition to a mixed flower bed. Like most thistles, the finely-defined leaves are stiff and prickly. The rounded flowerheads are usually white or silvery-blue, resting on top of stems that grow 12 inches to 6 ½ feet tall. The placement of globe thistles in the flowerbed will depend upon the height. Taller varieties need to be placed at the back of the garden, while shorter species can be planted throughout the bed. It is suitable for USDA zones 3 to 9.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Globe thistle plant
- Gardening gloves
- Complete plant food
- Pruning shears
- Paper bag
- Twist tie or string
Select the site for globe thistle. They need full sunlight all day to thrive as well as soil that has good drainage, but is not necessarily rich. Dig up the soil and remove rocks and other garden debris before planting globe thistle. Add sand to soil with lots of clay or to improve drainage.
Plant globe thistle in mid-spring. Dig a hole that is larger than the container. Due to the prickly leaves, always wear gardening gloves when handling this plant. Carefully remove the globe thistle from the container and put it in the hole. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down gently to remove air bubbles. Water to settle the soil. Space globe thistles 16 inches apart.
Water globe thistle regularly. Although drought-resistant, an occasional deep water is beneficial to this plant. Apply a complete plant food in early spring. There are no known pests or disease problems associated with globe thistle, but they will rot in soil with heavy clay or poor drainage.
Watch for the globe thistle to bloom beginning in mid-summer and continuing for two months. Deadhead to prevent self-seeding in the next season. As the plant dies, clean away dead foliage. Cut down remaining spent flowerheads, unless you want the seed to ripen. Allow the seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds by tying a bag around the seedheads with string or a twist tie to catch the seeds. Fold the top of the paper bag down or transfer the seeds to a paper envelope to show the next season.
Propagate globe thistle by sowing seeds in the spring or dividing the plant in the fall. Dig up the plant, divide the clumps and replant. Water to settle the soil. Space new plants 16 inches apart. Continue to water regularly until the plants are established.
Tips and warnings
- Globe thistle is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
- This plant is resistant to deer.
- The dried flowerheads are pretty in dried floral arrangments.