Plant Description

Echium candicans

Echium candicans - Cockatoo Island, Sydney

Previously called Echium fastuosum, and sometimes known as Pride of Madeira, this soft-wooded shrub is indeed from Madeira. It has long, grey-green leaves and stunning long spires of blue-purple flowers in late winter and early spring. The colour of the blooms is almost iridescent. The shrub grows to about 1.8 m tall and quite wide, and has quite a sculptural shape when in full bloom. It needs to be given plenty of space to allow it to be seen at its best. The spent flower heads should be removed straight after flowering, to promote compact growth and prevent self-seeding. It grows best in full sun, in a light, well-drained soil, with a little lime added. It will struggle in heavy, damp soil. It flourishes in coastal areas, and will only tolerate light frost.

After a few years, in the Sydney climate, the shrub will tend to become overly woody, and is best replaced with a fresh specimen. Propagation can be achieved by layering a low-growing branch; it also can self-seed, producing new plants. Its blooming season coincides with that of Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii, and the combination of the Echium flowers with the lime-green bracts of the Euphorbia is a wonderful sight. They both enjoy similar growing conditions.

Prolonged heavy rain can cause root rot in this plant, especially if it isn't grown in a very well-drained spot. In general, it should be watered sparingly.

 

Echium candicans
Flowers from August to September.
Plant Family: Boraginaceae

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