Dead Heading the Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii

The Echium wildpretii, aka the Tower of Jewels, is one of the coolest plants we’ve grown in the garden. Can’t say for certain, but believe we planted it back in Jan 2010. You can see an old skool picture of it from a post a year and a half ago (1st pic, left hand side).

Echium wildpretii

Echium wildpretii is a biennial monocarpic plant native to the Canary Islands. We started ours from a four inch pot. During the first year it forms a short 2-3 foot stalk of leaves in a rosette pattern. Below is our baby with about a years worth of development.

Echium wildpretii

During its second season of spring growth, it starts to pop out one massive flower which can reach 3-9 feet tall. Our flower spike lurked out last March. The next couple of pics show its progress.

Echium wildpretii

April 2: the excitement builds and it bloomed in time for April’s Bloom Day.

Echium wildpretii

Three weeks later, a flush of flowers began filling in…and two more small flower spikes shot out from the bottom of the stem.

Echium wildpretii

Just a week later, the budding was nearly complete. I would have to call May 7 the day it peaked (see 1st pic).

Echium wildpretii

…3 more weeks and this puppy was about spent. Well, it’s monocarpic thus it’s not coming back so…it was time to dead head it.

Echium wildpretii

We are surprised how well it did in a container. We thought for certain that the roots would be bolting out the bottom of the wooden box it was planted it in. Turned out that everything was well contained inside the planter.

The balancing act

The balancing act

Oh, here’s a tip if you want to balance an Echium wildpretii on your head. The freshly cut stem was super slimy. So instead of resting it on your chin where it easily slips off…try balancing it on your lower set of teeth.

Final resting home

Final resting home

Today, he’s resting against the fence, pining for the fjords. There’s a ton of pin head sized seeds attached to the flower stalk. We’re gonna try collecting some seeds to see if we can get any of them to germinate. Any suggestions how long we need to let those seeds sit before trying to sow them?

— Far Out Flora

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