Thistle, a prickly perennial!

Thistle flower

Thistle is actually a generic name that includes many different perennials which have flowers that are addicted to needles!

Summary of key thistle facts

Name Eryngium planus or Echinops ritro
Family Apiaceae (parsley family)
Type perennial

12 to 32 inches (30 to 80 cm)
Exposure full sun
Soil ordinary, well drained

Foliage: deciduous    Flowering: June to September

At the heart of a flower bed, it adds an aesthetic touch and a hint of wildflower that is very interesting. Elegant in dry flower compositions.

Planting thistle

Favor planting in fall with a mix of garden soil and soil mix.

Planting thistleWhen purchased in containers or nursery pots, plant it in spring or at the beginning of summer, you won’t have any problems.

  • Space specimens by about 16 inches (30 cm).
  • Prefer full sun or a partly shaded emplacement.

Pruning and caring for thistle

Being a very easy plant to care for, thistle requires practically no care at all.

But if you’re really craving for details about thistles, a secret tip is that removing dead flowers whenever they wilt away will trigger new blooms. Staking the stems of taller varieties will ensure that the stems won’t fold under the weight of the flowers and/or gusts of wind.

  • Cut wilting flowers off as they die and cut the plant back very short in fall.
  • During the summer season, it’s important to water in case strong of extended drought.

Learn more about thistle

This perennial has leaves and flowers that are a distinctive silver blue color, long stems and thorny leaves that you don’t want to embrace…

It bears round, needle-studded flowers that will open very well when cut and placed in a vase. They’ll lend your bouquet that special wildflower touch, especially for dried flowers.

Here are a few interesting thistle species:

  • Eryngium alpinum, blue alpine thistle
  • Echinops ritro, the most common blue thistle
  • Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s blue’, 32 inches tall, electric blue color
  • Eryngium bourgatii Gouan, the Pyrenees blue thistle

Apart from its beautiful violet blue flowers, some blue thistle species are also edible! The roots can be dug out and eaten. Thistle also is used for medicinal purposes against rheumatism and kidney stones.

Smart tip about thistle

This plant needs a lot of water. To avoid spending your entire summer watering it, add mulch in spring.

Images: Pixabay: Mabel Amber, pixel__2013