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Annual Biennial

Echium pininana
  • RHS AGM

giant viper's bugloss

E. pininana is a rosette-forming biennial or short-lived perennial with lance-shaped, roughly silver-hairy leaves to 7cm long. Each rosette produces a flower panicle up to 4m long of funnel-shaped blue flowers with large bracts in mid and late summer

Other common names
tower of jewels
Synonyms
Echium pinnifolium

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Size
Ultimate height
2.5–4 metres
Time to ultimate height
1–2 years
Ultimate spread
0.5–1 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Blue Grey Silver
Summer Blue Grey Silver
Autumn Grey Silver
Winter Grey Silver
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H3
Botanical details
Family
Boraginaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Columnar upright
Potentially harmful
All parts may cause stomach upset if ingested, contact with the foliage may irritate skin. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Echium can be annuals, biennials, evergreen perennials or shrubs, with simple, coarsely hairy leaves and funnel-shaped flowers borne in panicles or dense spikes in summer

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Canary Is

How to grow

Cultivation

Under glass, grow in a loam-based potting compost (JI No3) in full light. Water freely when in growth, sparingly in winter. Outdoors, grow in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Protect from winter frost in situ with horticultural fleece

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown at 13-16°C in summer, overwintering seedlings at 5-7°C

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Coastal
  • Flower borders and beds
  • Wall side borders
Pruning

No pruning required

Pests

Outdoors slugs may be a problem; indoors glasshouse whitefly and glasshouse red spider mite can be troublesome; vine weevils may also be found

Diseases

Generally disease free

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