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How to Grow Echium Pininana from Seed

Updated on December 3, 2012

Echium pininana is easily grown from seed. In fact, the plant itself is almost a weed when it finds a home with ideal growing conditions.

Seeds are not usually separated from the flower. If you buy this seed on Ebay, for example, expect to see a small dried flower ready for planting.

The flower head may contain more than one seed.

Plant this flower head in a good potting compost, water in well, and wait a couple of weeks or a bit longer in some cases, for the start of growth of your new plant.

Now one thing you should keep in mind is that the Echium pininana grows a taproot and that this tap root does NOT like being disturbed.

All plants that grow tap roots are notoriously difficult to transplant. However it is not impossible. Grow your little echium in a pot and when it is big and strong enough you can transplant it directly into the garden when all risk of frost is past.

Light frost will not kill the echium pininana plant. Heavy frost will. You can protect your baby by putting bubble-wrap or straw, or even a newspaper over it, if a late frost threatens.

When you transplant this baby, you have to be very careful to not disturb the roots. I find the easiest way to do this, is to let the pot dry out almost completely so that when you tip the pot upside down, the plant, compost, roots all come out without breaking up.

If your planted dried flower head produced more than one baby, and you have two or three little echiums growing in the same pot, successful transplanting is much more difficult.

Transplanting your echium pininana

I would suggest watering the pot first, waiting an hour or two, then gently emptying the plant pot out, on any work surface you care to use.

Then, very carefully, lift each individual seedling by the leaf - never by the stem - and placing it into a hole you already prepared in its new environment, whether that is in a bigger pot, or in the ground.

Echium pininana in the wild can be a weed. Put them in a pot they promptly die! <sigh>

Once you have grown your own echium to flower, and they normally flower in their third year after planting from seed, they die.

They have 10 million seed for you to collect and sell on Ebay!

Personally, I want some of their seed to perpetuate because after waiting three long years for the first flower, I want to see them again.

In ideal conditions, you will be rewarded with loads of baby seedlings that you didn't plant,coming up in the neighbourhood of the original plant.

The echium pininana can grow to approx.15 feet in height and have an exotic look.

I have never noticed a scent coming from them but their looks more than make up for that.

The flowers are blue but I have heard of varieties where the flowers are pink too.

Optimal Growing Conditions for echium pininana

The echium pininana grows well in seaside conditions. They tolerate salty air very well, and from experience alone, I would say they like acid soil.

They like a sunny situation, but if you live in an area with little sun, plant them in the lightest area you can and they will thrive.

I would also say from experience that they do not like drought, heavy alkaline soil, and excessive heat.

When you plant the seedling out, it is important to remember that one day this plant will be up to 15 feet tall.

To be that tall, it's base must broaden to support the weight/height.

Allow it at least a square metre for the echium pininana to grow without competition from other plants.


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    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Hehehe they self-seed readily when they find a place they like - and West Cornwall is no doubt ideal :)

      You should save the seed and sell them on eBay! You'd be amazed by the demand for them!

    • profile image

      mynchya 6 years ago

      I live in west Cornwall they are a nuisance in my garden every year I have to cut a load down.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      They grow big and really tall in SW scotland - about 15 - 18' tall and the frost is too minor to kill them. BUT they take about 4 years to flower, then they die.

    • profile image

      Steve, Cheltenham 7 years ago

      From my experience growing these plants (and having them self-seed) I think I can explain their (non)-weediness. If you let them self-seed, the plants show until well into the summer and by winter that are quite small. Not only are they less tough, their size means that ground frost can kill them. That said, I believe in SW UK, they do spread in the wild. What I do is sow them in February and keep them indoors in the warm. They germinate quickly and grow fast. I plant out in May and they have the whole summer to fatten up. Even so, I sometimes lose quite big plants to frost.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      I am also confused as to why it is rare. On the west coast of Scotland, on a coastal area warmed by the Gulf Stream, they flourish and self-seed all over the place. Frost is rare there, a severe frost almost unheard of, and the air is constantly salty and damp.

      If their original home was La Palma, I take it they are not self-seeding anymore there if they are described as extremely rare?

      I will send you enough to re-forest your area with them and I hope you have more success with them than I did here. I think it is just too hot and dry for them here, but I'm hoping some might self-seed anyway. I had 4 flowering plants and each plant produced thousands of seeds. I should sell them on ebay lol

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      What I don't understand is why this Echium and several others are so very rare in the wild. You would think they could self seed successfully in their natural habitats and colonise new areas but some are just hanging on in very small numbers. Echium simplex is doing better in cultivation. Echium auberianum is very rare and only grows on Mt Teide and some other high mountains here. Pininana is described by author David Bramwell as "extremely rare" and only found in some laurel forests in La Palma. So growing these plants is helping conserve endangered species.