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Echinops Ritro [EK-in-ops RIH-tro] is a flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. It is native to eastern and southern Europe (Spain, Belarus, Ukraine, and Turkey), as well as western Asia.
This plant has more than 120 species, but merely a small number of them are in cultivation.
These plants successfully thrive everywhere and have a nasty sting when coming in contact with skin.
It also goes by several common names, including:
- Small Globe Thistle
- Globe Thistle
- Southern globe thistle
- Blue hedgehog
Echinops Ritro Care
Size & Growth
Small Globe Thistle is a busy, compact, herbaceous plant which grows about 24” inches tall.
It has broad prickly leaves which produce flowers during the late summer.
The stem grows as tall as 36” – 48” inches tall.
The leaves of this plant are dark green, deeply notched on top, and slightly hairy, slightly silver underneath.
Flowering and Fragrance
This plant type bears flowers in tight globes of blue flowers or purple flowers.
The steel-blue flower heads (blue globes) sit atop stiff, rigid stems clad with deeply lobed, dark green, spiny foliage.
These flowers bloom time is from mid-summer to early fall and typically lasts for eight weeks.
These globes of flowers grow around 1” – 2” inches in diameter.
It is a stunning addition to the garden, and usually attracts butterflies and bees.
Light & Temperature
Partial shade or full sun is ideal for this plant.
However, it grows to its fullest when placed under the full sun.
It doesn’t reach full growth or flower as much in partial shade.
The Southern globe thistle prefers the Mediterranean climate, but they also tolerate higher heat conditions.
The ideal temperatures for this plant are between 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C – 24° C).
Hardy in USDA zone – hardiness zones 3 – 8.
Watering and Feeding
Echinops Ritro needs watering in extended dry periods and must be cut back during the autumn season.
It is best to water this plant when the soil feels dry when touched but its drought-tolerant overall.
Avoid overwatering as this will result in rotting.
It survives in barren and poor soil type, which means this plant doesn’t require much fertilization.
Soil & Transplanting
The Globe Thistle quickly grows in well-drained, dry to medium soil when placed under full sun.
It tolerates various varieties of soils, including dry, infertile, droughty and weak, but these soils must be well-drained.
The pH level of soil this plant prefers is between 5.5 and 7.
After the completion of the germinating process, the new plant must be transplanted in the garden with a spacing of 23” – 35” inches between the plants.
Since this plant is a taproot plant, it is difficult to transplant or divide.
Grooming and Maintenance
It is best to deadhead the initial blooms of this plant so many shorter blooms start appearing.
After the blooming stage, the flower stalks should be cut to basal foliage and left for overwintering.
This plant should be cleaned during the spring season.
Echinops Ritro should be divided during the early spring by splitting some offsets carefully from the established clump’s base.
The heads of this plant occasionally become heavy and need staking.
To avoid the reseeding issue, the flower heads must be taken off once the color starts fading.
You may like these other plants in the Asteraceae family:
- Bellis Perennis – English Daisy
- Tithonia – Mexican Sunflower
- Gazania rigens – Treasure Flower
How to Propagate Small Globe Thistle
Propagating this plant is best using seeds from cultivated plants. Often, Small Globe Thistle also self-seeds.
The fastest means of getting flowers is through clump division.
Make the basal division during the spring from mature plants which are around three years old.
- Root cuttings are also used to propagate this plant.
- Make sure the size of the cuttings is around 2” – 3” inches long.
- Plant the root cuttings or basal in moderately acidic, loosened soil for the optimal outcome.
- The young plants must be watered twice every week during the first month.
- The watering should be gradually reduced once they start growing.
Globe Thistle Pest or Diseases
This plant doesn’t experience severe disease or pest issues and is deer resistant.
However, staking is required for taller stems, especially when this plant is growing in fertile, rich soil.
It is best to be on a lookout for four-lined plant bug, and aphids.
The aphids are an annoyance for this plant as they tend to suck out the juice from its leaves and stems.
A hard spray of water washes off the aphid from this plant.
Avoid hitting the flower, which has started fading as this will shower seeds on the ground and result in more growth.
If this plant is overwatered or weakened, it might become vulnerable to fungal root rot.
Maintain a slightly dry soil to prevent this issue.
The leaves might develop powdery mildew in humid conditions.
Treat it rapidly to avoid potential harm to the plant.
Southern Globe Thistle Uses
This plant offers excellent contrast and color in the perennial border or a cut flower garden and in garden designs.
The most popular use of this plant is as dried flowers in everlasting arrangements.
The flower heads are cut before they fully expand for optimal drying outcome.
The root of this plant is galactagogue and anti-inflammatory, which is why it is used for treatments of breast abscesses of mastitis, inflammation, as well as milk deficiencies in nursing moms, and for treating breast swelling.
It’s a great pollinator plant loved by hummingbirds and is low maintenance overall.