My Echium wildpretii is finally in bloom! Hooray!
This is a plant I have waited on for THREE YEARS.
It started out as a little silvery pom-pom-shaped thing in a 4" pot. Then it grew to a large, low, silver rosette that was quite lovely on its own. And then it stayed that way. Until now!
What a spectacular plant. The only thing I can't figure out is, why did I grow only one???
Echium is in the Borage family, or Boraginaceae, and as we all know, flowers in this family are excellent for pollinators. In California, we are used to seeing Pride of Madeira, or Echium candicans, quite frequently. It can be a little weedy in riparian areas, as plain old borage can, and all Echium reseeds freely. Pride of Madeira is perennial and can be relied upon to bloom every year. This Tower of Jewels, though, is a one-timer. It's not an annual, it's actually biennial, meaning it blooms after two years and then dies. Mine took three years, and this is it. I get this one phenomenal inflorescence. I hope it re-seeds.
The bees are loving it.
I bought this plant at Annie's Annuals, and she has lots of different Echiums you can buy. I do find that I have a little trouble with them when the weather is under 30 degrees consistently - many of my different Echiums have died. But the ones under trees were protected enough to survive. I have them in amended clay; they are all native to montane, rocky, lean soils, so it's a miracle that any of them grow in my soil. I have high hopes for several Echium plantagiuneum I planted this year.
I found this article from Longwood Gardens to be the best I could find on this marvelous plant. Look at how they have them grouped! Incredible! I will say that this plant is getting a lot of attention from the neighbors, it's a real show-stopper.
So if you're in zones 8 or 9, give this plant a try! It just needs some protection in the winters.