PLEASE NOTE: Since plants are often sourced from the garden to order, sizes do vary a little, depending on how they come out of the ground, but I always endeavour to give a little more rather than less! They are sometimes shipped bare-rooted, but will approximate the size specified (e.g. a 9cm pot).

Echinops exaltatus
Giant Globe Thistle
Type/Hardiness Herbaceous, Perennial, Hardy
Flowering period Early summer-Autumn
Height 6-8ft/2-2.5m
Light preference Full sun/part shade
Soil preference Any, free-draining
Sowing time/depth Autumn, Spring, 0.5in/10mm
The largest echinops, growing to at least 2m tall - and usually more, looks magnificent at the back of the bed or as a specimen plant. It is advisable to remove seed heads before they disintegrate, as the thick, long roots can make unwanted, self-seeded, plants difficult to remove. But don't let that put you off - this plant has a valuable place in the garden, not only for its striking, architectural form but because the succession of pale blue flowers, on globes sometimes over 2.5in/70mm in diameter throughout summer and into autumn, are a magnet for bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

I had to remove the seeds from the shop last year when I discovered that they had failed miserably! This year is another story - butterflies and bees have visited the plants in abundance - but to be sure that the seed supplied is viable I have removed the husks and retained only plump seed.

Sowing and/or growing instructions
Very easy to grow. Sow individually in 3in pots, 0.5in/10mm deep, planting out in final positions, 24in/60cm apart when large enough to fend for themselves. Alternatively, sow thinly, direct, thinning to at least 1 metre apart. These very tall plants may need a little support, especially late in the year. Cut hard back in late autumn, having earlier removed seedheads if you do not wish them to self-sow (highly recommended).
Seed
1 packet - 30 seeds approx. £2.50

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