Gardening at summer is always tricky, especially if you want a long-sustained plant that could survive in the hot and humid summer. One of the best options to choose is globe thistle flower.
Not only you don’t have to worry about watering, but you also free from being out in the scorching hot summer to maintain your garden and yet you can still have a beautiful garden at home.
A. Globe Thistle Facts and Characteristics
Globe thistle, also known as Echinops ritro, is a prickly flower in the Asteraceae family that carry a nasty sting when it contacts the skin and thrives almost everywhere.
It lasts for at least 8 weeks and appears in mid-summer to early fall. Globe thistle is perennials, so it is a long-lasting flower with minimal care and strong habits. It comes in beautiful deep purple globe thistle or blue hues that is perfect for the perennial garden.
It is easy to identify a flower especially a globe thistle flower that has unique characteristics. Globe thistle can grow about 90-120cm and 45-60cm across—its prickly feature yet stunning color stands out in the bushes.
The stems are curving with dark green leaves and look beautiful because of its slightly hairy dan silvery color. The flower is round, almost the size of a golf ball, and sturdy. Kids will like this flower because its similar to a pompom.
Globe thistle needs full sun and could thrive in dry or rocky soil—even drought. Thus, it can survive in hot and humid summers. Globe thistle is also resilient to most diseases, pests, and can resist deer and rabbit. It also attracts butterflies and bees to your garden.
B. Globe Thistle Meaning and Symbol
The genus name is taken from the Greek words; ´ekhinos’ means hedgehog and ‘opisis’ means head. Throughout history, globe thistle root has been used in medicine for anti-inflammatories like in the treatment of mastitis and breast swelling.
It is also a galactagogue, so it helps nursing mothers who are lack of milk. Globe thistle symbolizes nobility and independence.
C. Globe Thistle Care
Growing and caring globe thistle is easy. You can start from choosing how to seed the globe thistle seeds. There are two ways; collected the seeds or purchased cultivated seeds.
However, for a well seedling rate, choose the cultivated seed rather than the collected seeds. Globe thistle also could self-seed if you are not deadheading them.
The quickest method to get flowers is to grow globe thistle from clump division. You can also root cutting them in winter to get new plants or doing plant basal (divide them based on the basal growth) from 3-year-old plants.
Globe thistle is short-lived and should be replaced as they lose vigor or every three to four years. For best results, use the soil that is acidic (moderate), alkaline, or neutral.
You can water the young globe thistle twice a week for about a month, then slowly reduce the supplemental watering. Globe thistle need full sun and well-drained soil.
From time to time, the heads require staking as it may get heavy. Then, to encourage re-bloom, cut the basal foliage.
To avoid any reseeding problems, you must deadhead the heads when the color fades. Deadheading will prolong the bloom. Since the globe thistle care is minimal, you can enjoy watching them in the shade.
Make sure you know where you want to plant it because globe thistle has a lengthy and thick root, so it may be difficult to relocate them later.
D. Other Varieties
Echinops is native to Europe and Asia. It has many subspecies that can be an alternative plant for your garden. Plants to consider are:
1. Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus
It is a small version of regular globe thistle. Comes with bright blue color, small globe thistle is more compact and suited for coastal gardens or cottage gardens.
2. Echinops bannaticus
It comes in three varieties; star frost, taplow blue, and blue glow. Star frost has a silvery-white flower with silvery-white stems, and if you are looking for blue globe thistle that has an intense blue color and unique, you can choose taplow blue or blue glow.
3. Echinops sphaerocephalus
Also called ‘arctic glow,’ this flower has a white round flower with sturdy red stems that contrast harmoniously with its green leaves.
4. Echinops exaltatus
Echinops exaltatus is the largest globe thistle with pale blue or white round prickly flowers and can grow up to 150 cm. It is also known as Russian globe thistle.
E. How to Dry Globe Thistle Flower
Preserving or drying flowers is a fun activity and it is popular among people who love gardening. People like it because of its long-lasting effect, and they mostly use it to add color or warmth at home during the winter.
Air drying is the simplest method to preserve flowers. Drying globe thistle is also popular, and you can do it easily. First, harvest the flower and strip the stem from the foliage.
Make small bunches by tying the stems with rubber bands. Finally, hang them upside down in a dry, warm but well-ventilated place, like a shed or an attic. You must wait for 2 to 3 weeks for the flower to be dried thoroughly.
Remember, you must collect the flowers at the proper growing stage so that you will get a high-quality material. For globe thistle, you should pick them before the tiny flowers appear, and when the central globes are blue-gray (as soon as possible).
Are you interested in growing globe thistle at your garden? Then make sure to propagate it properly. In mid-spring, you should propagate them by seed sown in the seedbed.
In spring or fall, propagate them by division, and in winter, you must propagate them by root cutting.
All in all, globe thistle is a must have plant for your garden. Not only showy, but it also works harmoniously with other plants. It could be a lovely addition to cottage gardens, coastal gardens, beds and borders, and even wildlife gardens.