A Guide to Growing Echinops


Echinops, or globe thistle, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The name Echinops comes from the Greek chinos, meaning hedgehog or sea urchin, and Opsis, meaning appearance. The spiny, globular heads of this flower resemble those creatures. By following these steps and using the right techniques, you can grow a healthy Echinops in your garden.

Choose the best location for an Echinops plant

A vase of flowers on a tree

Echinops is a very tall, bushy plant with spiky leaves. It will grow to over six feet tall if provided with ideal conditions, which means it will need space in your garden. A sunny or partly shady area of your garden that receives well-drained soil will be perfect. The herbaceous plants are easily grown from seeds, but it takes at least two years before you can enjoy flowers on this tempting beauty.

Plant seeds early in spring

A close up of a plant

When planting these seeds outdoors, direct sow them into your prepared bed during early spring so they have a full season to grow and flower before cold weather sets in again. Echinops may not be able to endure a harsh winter. If you’re starting the seeds indoors, sow them about eight weeks before your last expected frost date. To sow the seeds, press them lightly into the surface of moistened potting mix or seed-starting soil. Cover the container with a clear lid or plastic wrap to help maintain humidity and keep the potting mix from drying out too quickly.

Thin plants as they mature

As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle without damaging them, thin them out so that only the strongest plants remain. Each plant should be about 12 to 18 inches apart from the others in order for them to have room to grow properly. When thinning out seedlings, use scissors rather than pulling them up so that you don’t disturb the roots of the remaining plants.

Fertilize regularly

Echinops plants are heavy feeders, so be sure to fertilize them regularly throughout the growing season. An all-purpose fertilizer will work fine, or you can use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer if you want to encourage foliage growth. Apply the fertilizer every four to six weeks, according to package directions.

Deadhead spent flowers

After the Echinops blooms have faded and died, cut off the flower heads down to where they meet the foliage. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers later in the season. It will also help to keep your plant from self-seeding too much.

Cut back plants in the fall

After the blooming season is over, cut the plant back by about one-third to tidy it up and prepare it for winter. This will also help to prevent wind damage and reduce the chances of the plant self-seeding too much.

Overwinter plants indoors

If you live in an area where temperatures dip below freezing in winter, you’ll need to bring your Echinops plant indoors so it doesn’t die. Place it in a cool, dark room such as a basement or garage. Water it only enough to keep the soil from drying out completely and don’t fertilize it during this time. In spring, you can move it back outdoors again.

Watch for pests and disease

Echinops plants are susceptible to a few common garden pests, including aphids, mites, leaf miners, and caterpillars. If you notice any of these in your garden, be sure to take steps to eliminate them. Many insecticides and pesticides are safe to use on Echinops plants. Certain diseases such as powdery mildew or rust can also affect this plant. If you see signs of disease developing, consult with your local gardening center or horticultural expert to find out what treatment is best for the problem.

Enjoy the blooms

Echinops plants produce beautiful blue or white flowers that are loved by bees and other pollinators. These flowers will bloom from early summer through fall, providing your garden with color and interest for many months. After the blooms fade, the spiky seed heads remain and make an attractive addition to dried flower arrangements. With a little care and maintenance, your Echinops plant will provide you with plenty of beauty and enjoyment for years to come.

Take care when handling

Though they are not poisonous, the spiky leaves and stems of Echinops plants can cause skin irritation in some people. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to wear gloves when handling this plant. You may also want to avoid placing it where small children or pets could come into contact with it.


If you want to add a unique, eye-catching plant to your garden, consider growing an Echinops. With proper care and maintenance, this beautiful plant will produce stunning blue or white flowers from early summer until fall, attracting pollinators and adding interest to your garden. To grow an Echinops successfully, start by selecting a sunny location with well-draining soil. Plant seeds directly into moist potting mix or seed-starting soil, thinning the seedlings as they mature. Fertilize regularly and deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms. With a little TLC, your Echinops will provide you with years of enjoyment.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter