This is a stunning biennial plant from the Canary Islands, however it’s the Echium Pininana is also a common site throughout Cornwall. In its first year it forms a low rosette of silver, hairy, spear-like leaves, and then in the second year it sends up a huge spike loaded with small blue flowers. It makes a dramatic statement in a sunny, sheltered garden, and is extremely attractive to bees. After flowering, Echium pininana scatters seed and dies. It self-seeds readily in mild, sheltered parts of the UK, but seed is unlikely to germinate in cooler regions. There are some fabulous examples in Cornwall, where they love the milder climate.
Position: full sun
Soil: moderately fertile, medium to light, well-drained soil
Rate of growth: fast-growing (2 or 3ft in first year)
Flowering period: mid to late summer
Hardiness: Moderate Hardy (handle temperatures down to -5C, but will not tolerate damp)
Do not worry too much about whether or not your Echium pininana will flower. From the perspective of a cool tropical garden, it is the pre flowering rosettes that are more desirable for setting a tropical mood. The flowers too come very early in the spring. Allow the bees to pleasure it, which they will in great swarms. Wait until you have enough ripe seeds for the foreseable future then compost it.
Garden care: The plants are drought-tolerant only need watering when the soil is dry. Once the seedlings or seeds have been in the ground for a few weeks, you should start watering the plants less frequently. If you live in an area with regular rainfall, you don’t need to water the plant unless dry spells occur. The plant doesn’t like soggy soil at all. The Echium plant doesn’t need any sort of feed to flourish as long as it has good multi-purpose potting compost to grow in.