Plant of the week, Echium pininana, has a number of common names. Bees Magnet is not one of them, but which I think would be highly appropriate. You can’t see them in these pics, but take my word for it – the bees are all over this plant’s blooms.
Echium pininana is one giant of a biennial (short-lived perennial) plant. The specimen here is well over three metres, but they can reach up to four. No wonder it’s known as giant viper’s-bugloss, or tower of jewels among some other names. In its first year it forms a low rosette of silver, hairy, spear-like leaves, and then in the second year it sends up a huge spike full of small blue flowers. It originates from the Canary Islands and prefers a sheltered, sunny location in a south or west facing aspect. Soil should be well-drained, light and sandy. After flowering, seeds (up to 200,000, which can lie dormant for up to 7 years) are scattered and the flower dies.
Some suggestions as to where to plant this supersized beauty are city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, coastal areas, flower beds and beds and wall side borders. In milder climates it goes well together with Honey bush (Melianthus major) and Red bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus). Echium pininana is classified as a threatened specie, is toxic to horses and may cause liver damage in humans. It’s generally disease free.