Friday, October 16, 2009

Echium fastuosum, Pride of Madeira

Echium fastuosum 
 Pride of Madeira
This sprawling 2 metre shrub is native to the Canary Islands and the usual flower colour is a deep cobalt blue, but shown here is a dusty pink flowered form which is equally attractive. The tall flower panicles are much loved by bees and its close relative Echium vulgare is a honey producing favourite in South Australia. (Echium vulgare is more likely to be known under the names Salvation Jane or Paterson's Curse.) To grow Pride of Madeira you need a spot which has gravelly well drained soil which is not too richly fertile . Given well fertilized soil and too much water ,this plant can grow too quickly and may collapse from a weak shallow root system during the first strong winds.
 It has adapted to a dry climate where the root system goes deep looking for water, thus making the whole plant more stable. For general maintenance, the flower heads are best removed once they have finished so that a more compact shape can be maintained. The foliage which is silvery grey and slightly hairy may irritate the skin so it is advisable to wear long sleeves when pruning. It is worth looking out for the cultivar 'Cobalt Tower' which has huge flower spikes and the ruby flowered species E wildpretii 'Tower of Jewels'. Diggers Nursery in Victoria usually has these more unusual forms . Local nurseryman Geoff Duxfield from the Southern Highlands of New South Wales also has a selection with powder blue flowers which he has called 'Duxfield Blue'.
2017 update: I have no pink and only limited supply of blue.


  1. Ian... what an unusual plant. I bet it is quite stunning in a garden.

  2. This pink flowered form is very atractive. I have the normal blue one wich looks stunning when in full bloom.

  3. What is your advice on how to prune back this plant to keep it shapely? We have two in our front landscape and they are huge and leggy after flowering.

  4. Echium are short lived and often become very leggy after a few years and peak after about 5 years before needing to be replaced. Cut back the old flowers each year. New plants grow from seed under the original and these can be used to replace it.