Show us your Echiums!

27 May

There’s just something about Echium wildprettii that makes people want to stand up and vogue! In fact, it’s the SEASON for Echium action shots, as “Tower of Jewels” everywhere reach for the sky and say “CHEESE.”

IMG_7505

These 8’ monsters in pink are in-spire-ational! (Photo courtesy Chuck B. http://back40feet.blogspot.com/)

We’ve been growing Echium wildpretii for over 15 years and consider it an old friend, but somehow this 6-8’ tall pyramid of flowers never ceases to drop our jaws. Even though it’s got a spectacularity rating of 10, it’s a 1 on the simple-to-grow scale. In its first year, plant it out in a sunny to partly shaded site (most soils except the soggiest are perfectly fine) and wait. Year one, it will make a pretty but understated rosette of leaves. After its first winter is when the plants will go up up up!

Our buddy Les and his best triffid Buddy in Berkeley, CA.

When we say that this plant can stop traffic, we mean it!! Bees and hummingbirds far and wide start circling in when it starts to bloom, but so do cars! If your Echium can be seen from the street, expect some curious visitors.

Carri from Sacramento looks a little bit dubious about getting snuggly.

Carri’s curbside Echiums have brought MANY people to her door. How many? Well, let’s just say that her husband is petitioning to install a sign out front to stop the friendly interruptions.

WHAT IS THIS THING?

Why, it’s an ECHIUM!

WHERE DID YOU FIND SUCH A THING?

Well, at Annie’s Annuals & Perennials, of course!

John from Downey, CA got this Echium for his birthday last year. Watch out for the hummingbirds - they don't like to share!

“Tower of Jewels” is the common name for E.wildprettii, but it could just as easily be called “Tower of Bees” or “Tower of Hummingbirds.” It does a magnificent job of advertising its wares and the payoff is HEE-UGE!

Alex - Queen of the Jungle! Everyone reach for the sky!

Echium wildpretii "Tower of Jewels"

Here's another cutie!

Rough soil? Harsh site? Full, baking sun? Echiums don’t care! See below: this gaggle seems perfectly at ease on a vacant lot.

Glenn Park posted this photo of E. wildprettii growing happily in an empty lot in Lompoc, CA.

Pots are also *generally* a no-no (a confined space makes Echiums suffer and sometimes go kaput) BUT we’ve now had a number of experimental gardeners prove to us that it *can* be pulled off. If you try it, a big container is prefereable.

Echium wildpretii "Tower of Jewels"

Megan and Matti from the Far Out Flora blog grew their Echium in a pot, and lo! It did just fine.

Megan from Far Out Flora suspects that their amazing specimen might be growing through the bottom of the pot, but even so, it seems like containers (BIG CONTAINERS) are worth a try – especially if it’s the ONLY way you zonal denial folks can make your Echium dreams come true.

Gardening

Master mugger Matti for scale.

After blooming, these towers of loveliness will pass on into the great garden in the sky BUT they almost always leave behind a few seedlings to carry on another day. If you must relocate the babies, do it quickly when they are still very small.

Eunice in San Francisco attributes her Echium's vim and vigor to a bucketful of mop water (no soap) every other week and plenty of sun.

echium wildpretii curve

Are your Echiums in action? Post it to our Facebook page! Special points for dressing it up in a baseball cap and sunglasses, giving it a moustache or maybe a Hawaaian shirt. We’d be all for that.  Echiums, away!!

20 Responses to “Show us your Echiums!”

  1. Loree / danger garden May 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Being part of the zonal denial crowd I am in awe every-time I see Echiums in their preferred climate, so gorgeous! That empty lot shot is just a jaw dropper! Thank you for this post…you made my morning!

  2. Grace May 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    An awesome plant. Thanks for the pics and prose. Sheer delight.

  3. Merry L May 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    My last one decided it didn’t have enough sun where I planted it, so it grew horizontally for about 2 and a half feel and then went up. After it finished its cycle, I was left with a huge woody stem the size and shape of a mastodon tusk.

  4. John P May 28, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    The pictures are awesome! Can someone please tell me, (since I’m a Echium novice) what to do when the plant finishes blooming? Leave it alone to go to seed? cut back the flower stalk? will it send up a new stalk? Does the plant just die off? I know too many questions.

    Thanks for the info!
    John P (I’m the one listed as being from Downey, but it’s actually Valley Center, CA (North San Diego County)

    • anniesannuals May 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Hi John! After E. wildprettii is done blooming, it will die. But if you leave the stalk and let it go to seed, you will almost certainly get new baby plants for next year. You can gently dig them up when they are very small and place elsewhere, or let them grow where they are! Good luck – and thanks so much for posting your AWESOME photo to our page. It’s what inspired this whole post!

  5. rebecca @ baydirt May 28, 2011 at 5:27 am #

    These plants are SO beautiful. I don’t think I have enough sun at my place for them though, sadly. My favorite spot to see them is along the edge of highway 1 near Stinson Beach. They’re even more gorgeous with all that ocean and springtime green hills in the background.

    • Alana May 29, 2011 at 7:21 am #

      There was a tall purple echium sort of thing that grew for years by one of the bayside cottages in Bodega Bay, as you follow the road from Bodega Bay to Bodega Head (aka Bodacious Head). I don’t know what kind it was but it was at least 12 feet tall. I wonder if it’s still there… now I want to go see! Road trip!

  6. CPolemi May 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    Is there a way to plant the Wildpretii in a series of concentric circles, each inner circle higher than the next, so they form a giant cone?
    (I might try it when I get a place.)
    They would look like a wiggly wild red tree?

    • anniesannuals May 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

      Holy cow – I’m not sure how you would do that – but if you did – YOU MUST TAKE PHOTOS!! LOL. Good luck!

  7. Kylee from Our Little Acre May 29, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    *sigh* BIG TIME zone envy here…

  8. Jane / MulchMaid May 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    These pics are spectacular! I’m in zone 8b, but seeing Mattie’s success, I’m tempted to try a potted Echium wildprettii this year. Will I get a tower next spring???? I’ll let you know, if so! Now I’m off to Annie’s online store to order!

  9. Carri May 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    We had SOOO much fun growing E.wildpretii this year that I bought additional plants (just in case mine don’t reseed for some reason), and now we added Mr. Happy and E.russicum too! Thank you for carrying such fun plants!

  10. Angela June 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    I am crying because I didn’t order one of the Echium russicum plants in time 😦

  11. Candy Suter June 14, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Wow these are amazing! I have seen Megan and Matti’s and follow their blog. I think these would do great in my back yard in between the cactus. I wonder if I can get one from Lowe’s or Home Depot? Wow great idea!

  12. Gerhard Bock June 17, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    Mine only got to 5 ft but it was covered with flowers (and bees). Check out my blog post at http://www.bambooandmore.info/2011/05/tower-of-jewels-echium-wildpretii.html. It’s setting seed now and I hope to start the next generation in the fall.

  13. entire leaves February 2, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    I’m gonna get me some of these this year!

  14. Russel Ray Photos April 23, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    I found one of those this morning growing in San Diego. Having never seen one before, I did a blog post on it a few hours ago looking for help in identifying it, which led me to your site. I’m going back to my site to put a linlk in it to your blog here.

    • anniesannuals April 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      Excellent – so glad we could help you id! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Bidet Toilet July 11, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    An awesome plant. Thanks for the pics and prose. nice posting. really it was good looking. it looks very beautiful.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I dig Plants | East Twin, West Twin - July 17, 2011

    […] CA. Their blog is always a feast for the plant-a-holic, and my newest obsession came from this post where Annie’s had readers send in pictures of  their Echium wildpretii, or Tower of Jewels. […]

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