How to Grow Echinops Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Globe Thistle

Echinops are thistle-like plants that are hardy perennials.

They have spiky leaves, and produce globe-like flowers, of white or purple.

The common name for members of the Echinops genus is the Globe Thistle.

Echinops by wallygrom.

Due to their size (90 cm to 1.5 m; 3 to 5 feet), they make good plants for growing at the back of borders.

Commonly Grown Echinops Species

Echinops ritro

Echinops ritro
Echinops ritro (Southern Globethistle Veitch's Blue Cultivar), photograph by F. D. Richards; CC.

Echinops bannaticu

Echinops bannaticu
Echinops bannaticu (Blue Globe-thistle), picture by manuel m. v.; CC.

Echinops Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Globe Thistle: Great; Pale; Russian.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 20 to 60 inches (50 to 150 cm).
Native: Europe, west and central Asia, Northern Africa.
Family: Aster (Asteraceae / Compositae).

Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
Flowers: Species dependent: Summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: White, purple, blue-grey. Globes.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Spiny. Lobed. Sharp.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Following the last frost. Spacing 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to two months. Temperature: 65 to 75°F (18 to 24°C). Three weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 7.0. Any type of soil. Regular watering during dry periods. Provide support for taller varieties.
Cut back to the ground in autumn. Plants last for about three years before losing vigour.
Propagate Echinops: in spring by taking root cuttings or by dividing in autumn in warmer areas.
Miscellaneous: Invasive weed in many parts of Northern America.

How to Grow Globe Thistle (Echinops)

When growing Globe thistle outdoors, it is best just to cover the seeds once sown. Sow out after the last frost of spring.

The plants can be grown in either a sunny or lightly shaded area of the garden, and prefer a soil of pH 5.5 to 7.

If you plan to first grow globe thistle seedlings indoors, then they take from two to nine weeks to germinate at a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees Centigrade (64 to 75°F).

Once growing, Echinops should be transplanted into the garden after the last frost of spring. Use a spacing of between 60 and 90 cm (2 to 3 feet).

Caring for Globe thistle and other Echinops

Globe thistles are relatively easy to look after. They require watering during prolonged dry periods and should be cut back to the ground in the autumn. Due to their height they may require stakes.

Although Echinops plants are perennials, it is best to re-plant new globe thistles every four years or so. As this will help to maintain the appearance of the plants.

If you require more Echinops, then either take cuttings from the root in the spring, or divide he plant in the autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Echinops genus have?

The Echinops genus is comprised of about 120 species.

Do members of Echinops make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Echinops, or Globe Thistles, are excellent for adding structure and interest to a border, attracting bees and butterflies.

Which Echinops species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Echinops ritro (Small Globe Thistle) is a popular choice among gardeners.

Are members of the Echinops plant genus fragrant?

No, Echinops species are not known for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Echinops?

Echinops enjoys a sunny location with well-drained soil.

Is Echinops invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Echinops is not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Echinops plants from my garden?

To remove Echinops, dig out the entire plant, ensuring to remove all roots to prevent regrowth.


The Echinops genus, commonly known as Globe Thistles, comprises about 120 species of flowering plants native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. These perennials are known for their spiky foliage and round, steel-blue flower heads that bloom in mid to late summer, attracting bees and butterflies.

Echinops plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are tolerant of drought and poor soil, and can be grown from seeds or division. The striking flowers and architectural habit make Globe Thistles excellent for adding structure and interest to borders, and the dried flower heads provide winter interest as well.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Echinops plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Asparagaceae family growing guides: How to grow Cladanthus; Dahlia, Gaillardia, and Anacyclus plants.