The southern globethistle is a valuable, easy-care perennial whose spherical flower heads bring a beautiful splendor into the garden.
Profile of southern globethistle:
Scientific name: Echinops ritro
Plant family: daisy family (Asteraceae)
Other names: –
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring or autumn
Flowering period: July to September
Location: sunny to partially shady
Soil quality: gravelly to loamy, lime tolerant, moderately nutritious, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flower beds, flower bouquets, single position, group planting, overgrowing, borders, flower garden, natural garden, prairie garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 (-37 °C / -35 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of southern globethistle
Plant order, origin and occurrence of southern globethistle
The southern globethistle (Echinops ritro) is native to southern and Eastern Europe up to the Balkans. It is found there mainly on rocky slopes, in grassland and in dry, hot areas. It is a member of the large daisy family (Asteraceae).
Characteristics of southern globethistle
The loosely upright growing, bushy perennial grows 80 to 100 centimeters (32 to 40 in) high. It propagates itself by sowing and is therefore well suited for overgrowing in near-natural gardens.
The leaves of the southern globethistle are alternately arranged and are located both at the base of the stem and further up. They are pinnate and have a spiny edge, the underside of the leaves is conspicuously grey-felted. The upper side is grey-green colored like the stems and is glabrous.
The flowers of southern globethistle form spheres with small, bristle-shaped petals. They bloom from July to September and are steel-blue in color. The diameter of the flower balls is about 2 to 4 centimeters. The genus name Echinopsis is derived from the Latin words for hedgehog (echinus) and similar (opsis), as the flowers of all species resemble rolled-up hedgehogs. After flowering, a very attractive seed stand is formed.
The individual seeds of the southern globethistle are inconspicuous, but the entire seed stand is extremely decorative and also durable.
Southern globethistle – cultivation and care
A location in full sun is ideal for the warmth-loving southern globethistle, but the perennial also feels comfortable in a partially shady location. Only locations in deep shade are problematic.
The ideal soil for Echinops ritro is poor, but cultivation is also possible in nutrient-rich substrates. A well-drained soil is preferred, but the plant thrives in almost any location, from loamy to stony. The perennial also tolerates dry summers very well.
If you want to plant southern globethistles in the garden, two plants per square meter are sufficient. The planting distance should be about 70 centimeters (28 in). The southern globethistle can be used as a solitary plant, but it is better to plant in small groups, as the flower heads simply look best in larger numbers.
The southern globethistle is an extremely easy-care perennial that thrives in almost any soil. Only when cultivating on soils that are too rich or moist can tying to support rods be a sensible measure if necessary, as the plant tends to tip over under these conditions. In winter it should be protected from moisture by brushwood. An occasional loosening of the soil ensures good permeability. Pruning can be done in late autumn, but since the perennial remains stable throughout the winter, the attractive seed heads can be cut off close to the ground in spring.
Propagation by division is possible. The best time for this is in spring.
There are several possibilities for the propagation of southern globethistle. The first one is sowing, the perennial plant likes to seed itself. In addition, propagation by division is possible in spring, and in the resting period propagation can also be done by root cuttings. Propagation by sowing is only possible with the true species.
Diseases and pests
The southern globethistle can be attacked by aphids. They are mostly immune against snail food.
The southern globethistle is hardy down to -37 °C / -35 °F. It should be covered with some brushwood during the winter season.
Use in the garden
The southern globethistle is a stately, decorative shrub that thrives well even in dry locations. Due to its low height, it is also suitable for smaller gardens. The flower balls are a valuable insect pasture and attract numerous guests such as butterflies, bees and bumblebees to the garden with their rich pollen and nectar. The plants are also popular as cut flowers, as they keep well in the vase and are also suitable for drying. For this use, however, the southern globethistle should be cut before the flowers open. Suitable planting partners are also sun and warmth loving perennials such as the fernleaf yarrow (Achillea filipendulina), the baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) or the mullein (Verbascum). But also combinations with grasses, especially those that grow in an ears like the Atlas fescue (Festuca mairei) or the feather grass (Stipa), are beautiful to look at.
‘Veitch’s Blue’ is a particularly recommendable variety with enormously numerous, bright steel-blue flowers, which grow to a height of about 80 centimetres (32 in) and are therefore also very suitable for smaller gardens. It will bloom for a second time very reliably after pruning. The location and soil conditions are the same as for the species. Its great advantage over the true species: not only does it flower more abundantly and intensively, it also has no thorns.