Echium pininana hybrid | Giant Echium ‘Pink Fountain’
Echium pininana’s common name is Giant Vipers Bugloss,Tree Echium, Giant Echium, and Pine Echium, is one of the true giants of the herbaceous plant world. It’s a biennial or triennial that is native to La Palma on the Canary Islands and is surprisingly well suited to milder, maritime areas.
Echium ‘Pink Fountain’ is a hybrid between a red-flowered Echium wildpretii and a blue-flowered Echium pininana. During the first year it forms a rosette of long, spear-shaped, bristly, silvery-green leaves, followed in the second year (and sometimes not until the third year) by a single, bold, tapering flower-stem up to 13 ft in height (with 18 ft recorded)! The stretching spire is covered by thousands of showy, densely-packed, light pink flowers that give the impression it’s one single towering flower! The flower spike starts its show early to mid spring (May for us) and continues to flower for months. It attracts pollinators from all around. Bumblebees never leave it which makes us wonder if they ever go back home. Plants are monocarpic, so set seed after bloom and then die. Will self sow, however seedlings may or may not survive the winter(s) in zone 9 or lower.
Cold hardy to around 25F for short periods of time. Can survive lower temps if planted in a sheltered site. We’ve had Giant Echium rosettes survive outdoors with HEATED protection in zone 8 with snow on the ground for extended periods of time where temps reached 10F. We use 5 gallon or 55 gallon drum heaters with a plant fabric over top. They’re not cheap and they do use quite a bit of electricity, but they DO work successfully overwinter a tropical Echium, even in cold and wet climates. However, we advise using them only when necessary. It is more common for folks to move Echiums into a greenhouse for the winter, or cover with plant blankets/fleece in warmer areas. The key is to make sure they have good drainage. Since plants can take 1-3 full years to mature, one may also choose to plant the plant and its container straight into the ground and then remove it before storing it in the greenhouse for the winter again.
Giant Echium holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit. This is without question, one of our favorite plants of all time.
Type: Biennial or triennial
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 8-12 ft
Mature Width: 18-24 inches
Hardiness zones: 9-11 (zone 8 with heated protection)