The Pride of Madeira

Echium candicans, also known as Pride of Madeira, is certainly a wow factor endemic plant from Madeira. It has tall iridescent flower spikes covered in clusters of blue flowers that typically emerge in late spring through green-grey whorled leaves. Described as a shrubby perennial it is found in the plant family Boraginaceae. There are 40 known species of Echium in the world, which come from parts of Asia and the Mediterranean regions in Europe. Within the genus the flowers come in shades of blue, pink, red and white with tubular flowers and beautiful protruding stamens.  This stunning plant may reach up to 2m tall with a spread of 1.2m. Outside of the island of Madeira it can easily be mistaken as a native in some coastal areas of California. Today it is grown world wide as an ornamental garden plant. Wonderful for pollinators it grows well beside the coast in frost-free conditions, as it is not full hardy. The soil should be free draining and in full sun. Echium candicans dislikes hard pruning but when young can be lightly tip pruned. This will keep a rounded structure that if left alone would become woody and irregularly shaped.  Due to its short-lived habit it sets seed easily, so collect the seed once it has dried on the plants. Cuttings can be taken in late May/June after flowering – make sure watering is carefully balanced to prevent the cuttings from rotting. All Echium species are known to be toxic if eaten. The leaves and stems may cause skin irritation so do wear protective clothing at all times.

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