This most beautiful plant has long been in cultivation. In summer Echium plantagineum bears the most beautiful dense spikes of exquisite, violet-blue flowers. Growing to only 30cm (12in) tall, the plants are compact and bushy. They can be planted in containers, in the conservatory or on the patio.
The buds of blue-flowering echiums start off pink at first, the flowers turn the most exquisite shades of intense blue and as the flowers fade they become tinged with crimson.
Used in the border or as part of wildlife friendly planting schemes, they are ideal for attracting butterflies and bees. Rich in nectar and pollen, Bees are always attuned to finding the best pollen and nectar sources available.
Echium is the source for a particularly fine grade of honey. It is light amber in colour and very fragrant with a pleasant floral taste, and does not crystallise for 9 to 15 months.
If you don’t want plants that honeybees simply visit, but want to select plants that honeybees clearly love, choose Echium for your garden
Viper's bugloss is one of, if not THE very best plant to attract bees to your garden. Along with Borage and Phacelia, the plant is much loved by almost all bee species, especially bumblebees.
For months this plant is a stable source of nectar:
- The plant repeat blooms throughout the summer into autumn, providing nectar for bees for overwintering.
- Unlike many flowers. Echium has a most unusual feature. The nectar inside the flower is protected inside the flower, from vaporization (when it’s hot) or being flushing away (when it rains).
- This plant produces nectar throughout the day unlike most plants which produce nectar for a short period of time. If the bees have a good access to Echium they can collect between 12-20 lbs of nectar a day.
- The plant continues to bloom throughout drought periods. The concentration of sugars in the nectar varies, from 22.6 to 48.3% depending on the quality of the soil, and not on the amount of rain.
Echium plantagineum “Dwarf Blue Bedder” has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow in March to May or in August to September
Sow March-May for flowers June-September, or sow August-September to flower May-July the following year. The seed should be sown directly outdoors where it is to flower in spring or autumn. They prefer well drained soil in full sun or part shade. The seed can also be sown indoors, but direct sowing is preferable, as they have a long taproot which can be damaged when transplanting. Make two or three successive sowings for continuous flowers.
Prepare the area where they are to grow. Removing any weeds or stones and rake to a fine tilth. Sow thinly, 6mm (¼in) deep in drills 30cm (12in) apart. Sow the seed sparingly or they will choke out other seedlings. Water ground regularly until the seedlings are established, especially in dry periods. Optimum germination temperature: 60 to 65°F (15 to 18°C).
If sowing more than one annual in the same bed, consider marking the sowing areas with a ring of sand and a label. The seedlings will appear in rows approx 6 to 8 weeks after planting and can be easily told from nearby weed seedlings.
Prick out superfluous seedlings rigorously, so that the plants are at least 38cm (18in) apart. They will then have enough space to spread satisfactorily.
Deadhead to prolong flowering and encourage new flower buds. Plants will reseed themselves if a few heads are left in the garden to mature. Leave a few plants to die down to self seed or collect seed for next year, others can be pulled up and composted.
This striking species is best viewed and not touched. The sharp spines, which cover the plant, are a powerful deterrent and can be a skin irritant; becoming lodged in the skin much like those of a cactus. If you are tempted by the Viper, please use gloves when handling the plant!
Flowers Borders and Beds, Patio/Container Plants, Cut Flower, Wildlife and wildflower meadows. Bees and Honey making. Butterfly gardens, Drought Tolerant.
Echium plantagineum is a species of Echium, native to western and southern Europe (from southern England south to Iberia and east to the Crimea), northern Africa, and south-western Asia (east to Georgia). It is a common, but not dominant, component of species-rich annual grasslands. It is also found in poor soil along the coasts of France and southwest England. Although often found near the coast but will grow at up to 800m.
It is often confused with Echium vulgare, a much taller plant which has four stamens projecting past flower tube (as opposed to 2 in Echium plantagineum).
Echium plantagineum is a member of the genus Echium and is commonly known as Echium Dwarf Blue Bedder.
The genus Echium is named from the Greek echis meaning "a viper," it is thought to derive from the shape of the seed, which resembles a viper's head.
The species name plantagineum simply means 'resembling a plantain'
It is commonly known as Viper’s Bugloss. Officially, the name Viper’s Bugloss is reserved for the plant Echium vulgare. In gardening circles, it is also used for this slightly divergent species.
The name bugloss is of Greek origin, from a word signifying an ox's tongue, and alluding to the roughness and shape of the plant's leaves. The viper part of the name may derive from the spotted stem, said to recall marks on a snake, or an imagined resemblance between the dead flower-head and the head of a snake.
The plant belongs to the borage family, Boraginaceae.
|Average Seed Count||125 seeds|
|Cultivar||Dwarf Blue Bedder|
|Common Name||Vipers Bugloss|
|Flowers||Incredible shades of intense blue|
|Natural Flower Time||May to September.|
|Position||Full sun preferred|
|Soil||Well-drained (Acid, Alkaline or Neutral)|
|Time to Sow||Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.|
|Germination||Optimum germination temperature: 60 to 65°F (15 to 18°C).|