Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pride of Madeira
Echium candicans

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Family: Boraginaceae
Genus: Echium (EK-ee-um) (Info)
Species: candicans (KAN-dee-kans) (Info)

Synonym:Echium fastuosum

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

26 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Spacing:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
Purple

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Foliage:
Evergreen

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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Profile:

18 positives
8 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive Pamerella On May 1, 2014, Pamerella from Davis, CA wrote:

Two years ago I purchased seeds from an online source, germinated 6 in wet paper towels and planted them in small pots until they had about five leaves on them. Only 4 lived to that point and they went into the ground. I planted three along a fence by my driveway and one of them died naturally, one was accidentally destroyed by a foot, but one survived and is such a joy! One day in April I went out my door to find it in full bloom and buzzing with bees! I'm actually glad only one survived of the 3, because I believe it will grow to the full length of the area. It is about 4 feet high and 6 feet wide. I'm harvesting seeds now! (Well, hopefully, though I'm concerned that it may be only husks I'm harvesting.)

The 4th one was planted in my back yard beside an oak stump. It grew well until this winter when we had an especially dry season while I was away for a month in January. Usually it rains enough in January here (Davis, California) that I hadn't arranged to have them watered. The one along the fence survived because it got water from my neighbor Emma's garden right on the other side of the fence. (I've named it "Emma" in her honor.) Only one branch survived from the one in my backyard and it did not flower. I have named it "Thirsty."

Two notes:
1. The stories here about ones that stop growing are probably due to over watering or soil that doesn't drain well. When I planted mine into the ground, I mixed 1 part potting soil to 2 parts sand and filled a one foot hole with it for each plant. I usually water once a week.
2. I learned that bees get Nectar from it, which is a big bonus for the bees. Pollen is what they usually get from flowers, but the only benefit to the bee of pollen is that they feed baby bees with it. Nectar is what they actually make honey from. We have several honey hives in the neighborhood, so I hope my neighbors will be repay me come honey harvest time.

I'm germinating 6 more of the old seeds now and will shortly germinate some of the new ones to see if they are viable. I'm a new gardener, so what a treat to discover this plant and to succeed with it!

Positive starfarmer On Feb 22, 2013, starfarmer from Ann Arbor, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:

A thought on the lifespan issue: some authorities list Echium candicans (the most accepted current name for what is listed here on DG as E. fastuosum) as a weak perennial subshrub, while others list it as a strict biennial.

Many of E. c.'s close relatives, such as E. pininiana and E. wildprettii, are solidly biennial. Both of those species have hybridized naturally, and all three have hybridized in complex webs of inheritance. This is why you can see rose or mauve colored flowers on supposed E. c., when it is classically know as a rich blue-flowered plant (while E. w. comes in shades of red, pink, etc.)

In short, once we removed the 30 or so (out of 60 or so total) subtropical, Mediterranean species of Echium from their native environments and exposed them to the alluring flowers of relatives they didn't know they had, all genetic certainty went out the window. And along with it went clear expectations of size, flower color, drought tolerance, clay tolerance, sun needs, grayness of leaf and, of course, perenniality. In nature, you could once find clearly differentiated Echiums that had evolved to fit the climate of specific niches in the Canary Islands, Madeira, the Iberian peninsula, the high Atlas and other central and southern mountains. Today things are not so clear, and nowhere less than in the garden. where seeds are gathered locally irrespective of pollen input, etc.

This is why it's hard for me to get too worked up about this. The best strategy is to take cuttings of a plant with size, color and behavior that suits you; second best strategy is to gather seed from that plant when available.

And if you plant doesn't turn out quite the way you expected, think of it as a bonus rarity or something like that. The various Echiums are unpredictable, but they are seldom less than stunning, in and out of flower.

Neutral Stanner On Nov 6, 2012, Stanner from Sandy, UT wrote:

I purchased some seeds from an Australian seller on eBay, 2011. Planted some in March 2012. They sprouted in about a week and by May, 1 was still alive and was about 8 inches tall. I transplanted it to a sandy-soiled area that gets full sun in summer. The plant grew until it was about 2.5 feet wide and 1.5 feet tall, then it didnt grow any more. We had a long hot and dry summer and I watered it about 2-3x per week, still nothing more grew. Even after the weather broke and we had 2 months of cooler weather it still hasnt grown any larger. I used a liquid fertilizer, 30-10-10 every month and everything else responded well but not Maderia.

Positive Andrearichter On May 9, 2012, Andrearichter from Cowes
United Kingdom wrote:

If you want to see this plant flourishing in the UK, visit Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight during July and August, the 'Echium' terrace looks amazing along with the other plants.

Negative mlml On May 8, 2012, mlml from Penngrove, CA wrote:

Please don't plant this adjacent to wildlands! I worry when people want to put it on their hillsides. This is a very attractive plant, but in the right conditions can spread exponentially. It's scary when you see what it can do to an ecosystem. I hope gardeners will think about what happens to the plants they establish after they (the gardeners) have moved away or died.

Positive lliefveld On May 7, 2012, lliefveld from Three Rivers, CA wrote:

All of the descriptions that I've seen indicate this is for the 'coastal' area. We live inland, in Central California, in the foothills of Sequoia National Park. I purchased 1 plant, while I was in Monterey, just to see how it would do.

It's phenomenal! This is the 3rd year. Last year it had 1 bloom. This year it's about 8-feet wide and absolutely covered with blooms. Now my husband wants 5-6 more!

We have a hillside that gets very little summer water, and we are required to keep it free of weeds, so we've been experimenting with plants that will keep us from watering and keep us from weed-eating. It looks like this will be one of the 'keepers'.

It's not sold locally, so I'm going to experiment with collecting the seed and also propagating it from cuttings.

Positive Paullatham On Mar 2, 2012, Paullatham from Blairgowrie
United Kingdom wrote:

The plant grows well at Turi in the Kenya highlands.

Positive baiissatva On Sep 24, 2011, baiissatva from Dunedin
New Zealand wrote:

Zone 9b coastal otago new zealand

I can say that these plants and their closely related cohorts are pretty tough temp-wise; we are maritime down here, but get snow, hail, buckets of rain and some frost, but also generally dry summers and right by the sea, I can grow the tougher tree aloes. All in all Id say we're not far off it's native conditions with our volcanic rock and sea exposure etc.

Several echium varieties have naturalized and plenty survive the winter. Im also puzzled about their lifespan; I know a plant that's at least 15 years old and still going strong; some of my own have done 4-5, whereas others in my garden have pffed out after 2 years. I suggest it has to do with the amount of water they receive. Too wet and well fed and they bolt through their cycle in 2 years. Make them struggle and they'll stick around longer.

There's also the old thing about preventing a biennial flowering the first time it tries it and therefore converting it to perennial status. It works with some other species, and that might be the case here too.

Anyway, they need a heap of room, full sun and dry nasty powdery rocky soil to really last and reach their potential, especially the branchy types. They LOVE parched, sunbaked rock slopes. The enormous candelabra types are especially dramatic; mine reached 3-4 metres before I had to fell it.

A beautiful plant, in the right circumstances.

Positive Oxytone On May 17, 2011, Oxytone from Marina, CA wrote:

Echium fastuosum isn't biennial. I can assure you that it certainly isn't. My plants have been in the ground for several years and I've seen some that were over 10 years old with thick trunks at a shopping center built around the year 2000. If they are grown in a Mediterranean climate in fairly lean soil and not overwatered, they do very well well. They don't like to be kept wet, and they don't do well in warm humid climates, and love sand. Remember, these are Mediterranean plants with cool maritime influence. Happy plants will grow very fast as well. If they dislike where they are they will sulk.

They do exceedingly well along the coast of central and northern California. I've seen some very big, very old (relatively speaking) plants in San Franciscan and Monterey gardens. In fact, mine are doing so well that they have taken over a space over six feet wide and nearly as tall (if untrimmed, they can form large dome-like mounds of foliage). The leaves are in fact irritating so gloves and long sleeves are reccomended, but I'm not sure why it was mentioned that the leaves hold on. I've not seen this happen on my plants. What I have seen is copious mounds of dead leaves forming a heavy mulch underneath the plant.

A key thing to know is they will not sprout from old wood, so a heavy pruning will more often kill the plant than rejuvenate it.

This is one of the neatest, most architectural and impressive plants if grown in the *right* climate. Highly recommended for any garden that has the space.

Neutral oahu On May 13, 2011, oahu from Kaneohe, HI wrote:

Although this plant is not readily available in Hawaii, I happen to have 2 growing quit well in my yard. They've been in the ground for about 1 1/2 years and have growen from a small sprig to about 2 feet in diameter each. I'm wondering how long before I can expect them to bloom? Can anyone tell me?

Positive flowblue On Mar 31, 2011, flowblue from Southern California, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

after reading this thread, i found out the answer to a question i've had about my pride of madeira. its' life span.

because friends know of my love for the colour blue, it's very easy to give me gifts......if their fav colour is not blue, i am the happy recipient of their blue rejects...including plants. i have tried to keep to blue in a certain part of my small garden..... i have planted...agapanthus, blue hibiscus, lobellias, yesterday today and tomorrow..both small and large petaled varieties, streptocarpellas, vincas, and a few more, their names escape me. i just gravitate to any blues in nurseries and if i can provide them with the environment they like and will be happy in my garden i buy them...

a friend gave me my first pride of madeira, two 6 inch weaklings he grew for me in gallon pots. i never thought they would make it. i planted both on a hillside, full sun. i knew they were low maintenance as i they are grown on a main street where i reside.

they grew into two big bushes in a year's period, pushing aside my agapanthus'...but gave a such a splendid showing of spikes of blue cones....late march. after that first year, they just withered away to nothing. so searched for a replacement...not easy to locate. to my surprise, two years later, a volunteer appeared further down the hill about 20 feet from my original plants. this volunteer madeira has been blooming every year for the past 3 years now. everytime, the blooms have been beautiful cobalts.
a year later, another volunteer right in the same spot as the originals sprouted. this one has just taken over a good portion of the uphill garden, stepping on all the agapanthus in it's path. but because of the magnificent blue flowers they gave, i let it overgrow. last year both volunteers were very generous and has awed anyone who happens to walk in when they are blooming.

after their bloom last year, i trimmed the volunteer below the hill, but because i will not climb for fear of rolling down, the second volunteer uphill was left alone. i was able to grow from a cutting last year, but it has only grown to 3 inches todate, but it's alive.

However, this year both of my madeiras, although in bloom look very pale, and straggly. i noticed this to be the same with the other maderias in my vicinity. must be the heavy rains we had this winter. i also suspect, this must be the year to bid me adieu. so i will find out after bloom time late april. they were not showy as in previous years. but if this is their natural cycle, i'll just hope for volunteers and will pot a couple more, just to ensure i have a couple.

so...

-as indicated by other members, they are drought tolerant
-come in three colours, i only have blue - and perhaps in diff shades
-live mostly along the coast
-require full sun
-has a life span, but will volunteer to return as i have found out about the two in my garden
-apparently does not need to be fertilized
- grows into a bush. the one i have up hill has grown tall to over 8 feet and 12 ft wide...

i love them for their colour and no maintenance. cross fingers
they stay. i won't feel as bad if they wither as others have experienced...and hope for re-growths.

Neutral dez42 On Oct 3, 2010, dez42 from Naples, FL wrote:

I am researching growing this in Florida...
The problem in Titusville, I suspect isn't a problem at all--this plant is a biennial (or at least often acts like one!). If they are 2 year olds they WILL fade away! If they had bloomed, they would have self-seeded for you.Well it grows in the UK, and in Texas, and other echiums grow here...I have different microclimates. Guess I'll just give it a try and update later!

Negative ptooming On Sep 20, 2010, ptooming from Titusville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted 2 different ones in my yard purchased from Annies.
They took off OK, but then became stunted for what ever reason and didn't progress they have been in my yard 2 years I lost one altogether last month and the other looks kind of sad regardless of my best efforts. They never made any effort to bloom taking up as much room as they have. they do leave a mess and look dreadful with the old dried leaves left on the stems below the new growth. You must use gloves to remove these since they have sharp hairs that can get lodged in your skin between your fingers. Don't try them in Florida it was a costly experiment, not all zones of the same number are created equal!!

Positive figalicious On Aug 25, 2010, figalicious from Ramona, CA wrote:

I am planting a steep hillside and want to have a few Pride of Madeira on it. It looks like these can be started by cuttings? Anyway, I'm going to try to root a few cuttings from a really pretty blue plant near by. I tried to get some seeds too but I think it's too late as they may have already dispersed. I cut a few heads just in case.

Has anyone started Echiun from cuttings?

Are they sensitive to transplant? I put several cuttings into one large pot. Should I start them in individual pots for easier transplant?

figalicious

Positive mellogardener On Jun 27, 2010, mellogardener from Boulder Creek, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted one a few years ago where it would get a lot of sun. Then a male deer came along and cut the middle out of it with his antlers.....i merely stuck the cut branches into the soil and i now have two additional plants. Deer don't eat it, drought tolerant, bees love it. This plan is a win-win for the area if one is up out of the San Lorenzo Valley and has a good draining spot for it.

Neutral n2joE On May 26, 2010, n2joE from Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

I had bought some seeds and not knowing it's zoning I planted them (Zone 6 here) out in the yard. The spot where I placed them gets sufficient sun, just don't know if they grow in Tennessee at all. Or I could have possibly planted the seeds to early in the cool start of Spring. Any comments or advice appreciated. Really enjoy looking at this plant.

Neutral PlantLover57 On Apr 24, 2010, PlantLover57 from San Francisco, CA wrote:

There's tons of this plant growing around Bernal Heights in San Francisco, both wild and in people's yards and gardens. It's large and quite striking, interesting to look at. Mainly deep purple, but some lighter shades. A landscaper told me it's invasive. It does best in open sun, but I've seen big clumps in forested areas. Working on trying to grow it from seeds or seedlings, which are abundant around the wild sites, but I'm just starting, so nothing to report.

Positive gatobut On Apr 2, 2010, gatobut from Martinez, CA wrote:

I've had great success with this plant here in Martinez, California. I am just off the Carquinez Straits with the accompanying wind and mediterranean weather. I planted one by my curb and the other on the top of my sloping hill, and they were everything they were supposed to be. Drought-tolerant, thriving on neglect, and quickly spreading. On cue, they both flowered one year from planting. My soil is heavy clay that doesn't drain well, but the plants don't care. And oh, the bees! It's like a "for rent" sign with them.

However, I bought both from Navlet's and they are both pinkish. I really want (1) Cobalt Blue and (1) Dark Purple, but there's no guarantee when buying them. If anyone can let me know where I can buy the Blue and Purple, I would appreciate it, thanks.

Positive onecent4944 On Mar 29, 2010, onecent4944 from Citrus Heights, CA wrote:

I planted this 2 years ago from a small 1 gallon container and was told it would never grow in Citrus Heights, CA let alone bloom. As you can see it has taken over. I have 5 plants and 3 out of 5 bloomed this year. Two of the 5 are a darker purple than this one. But this is the largest. Hummingbirds and bees love this plant!

Positive dirtzoo On Mar 18, 2010, dirtzoo from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I live in Hollywood, California and i love this plant. It is Doubt resistant , the Bees LOVE it. Although this year the main old plant died. the babies next to it are fine and flowering. I think it was all the rain and the roots got mold/fungus. That is what i think, though i am hearing that this plant lives only five years? if this is the case then , that is it. i am fostering the babies to take over where the Big mother was. it had a twisty four-six inch trunk. you will get a short lasting rash if you work around this plant. i did absolutely no maintenance to this plant just let it grow and watered it occasionally . Any views on this plant let me know!

Neutral greenthumbjan On Feb 24, 2010, greenthumbjan from Stockton, CA wrote:

I just bought 50 seeds living in Stockton, Ca. I gave my friend 6 or so living in Lodi, Ca. Reading about plants for honey bees and came across that bees love this plant. Has anyone learned how bees act around them? This plant, the seeds are small to be a large plant. So I do some good thoughts. I will send pic of my garden.

Positive Ralphie58 On Jun 9, 2009, Ralphie58 wrote:

Am growing my echium in full morning sun to part sun in East Sacramento. It bloomed beautifully this spring (09). Am not sure what to do next with the flowering stems. Cut back, or just let grow. purchased a variegated echium today at local nursery.

Neutral lazy_gardener On Jul 22, 2008, lazy_gardener from San Mateo, CA wrote:

I have three in my front yard but I'm having trouble keeping them all happy although they are less than 25feet apart, all in full sun, not competing with any other plant and self seeding very well. All on the same drip system (once every 2 weeks) . None the less after growing to the full 6-7 foot height and blooming beautifully for 2 seasons they begin to die back and 18 months later are done. I notice that Foster City's plants are also dying so does anyone have more cultivation information on this beautiful plant. Does it actually only live 5 years?

Positive birdgrrl On Jul 3, 2007, birdgrrl from North Highlands (Sacto), CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I started this plant from a cutting in Fall, 2005. I planted it in part shade in Spring, 2006. It grew some but did not bloom. I was very surprised that it made it thru the killer frost and has come back great this year. Still waiting for some blooms. I see it growing by the ocean on the coast everywhere, but I have never seen it here in Sacramento. I'm nervously waiting for flowers.

Neutral Singen On Jun 17, 2006, Singen from Sun City, CA wrote:

This plant is from the Mediterain and I have heard grow less tall in that area.
It grows very fast in my area, Sun City. It will over take a small yard in no time.
It sheds leaves which when dry make a heavy carpet on the ground that is not very attractive but does help retard weeds.The branches are woody and break easily in wind or heavy rain. It does have very beautiful bloom spikes of cobalt blue and the bees do love them as well as humming birds. I would recomend planting it where there is plenty room for it to spread. It might be good hedge.
Jean

Positive Stormsdad On Mar 25, 2006, Stormsdad from Pleasanton, CA wrote:

This plant is ubiquitous in the Monterey Peninsula and grows very well in clay soil. In my area, plants have gotten to be as high as 8 feet or so. This plant comes in two forms -- one being a tight mushroom that maintains this shape as it grows. The other is sprawly, leggy, and faster growing. The conical flowers (ranging from light blue to a vibrant purple)are up to one foot long and appear usually late March and last for several weeks. These plants also tend to be shallow rooted and the branches can easily snap during flowering season, so extra care (especially on the sprawly version) and support may be a good idea. It is very hard to distinguish to two forms when they are young plants, but becomes very easy in when they get over a couple of feet tall.

Positive MickieGrace On Oct 2, 2004, MickieGrace from Belmont, CA wrote:

The established plant may be deer resistant but I lost 4 young ones completely eaten,down to nothing, by deer.

One planted in a sunny location with regular watering. In one year, it grew 10 times bigger, lots of new branches but no flowers.

Two planted in a semi-shade location with light watering. They did not grow full but both bloomed.

Positive palmbob On Mar 17, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very fast growing plant- from a seedling to a large, flowering plant in just a couple years. Drought tolerant (thrived in cactus garden), but not that happy about being transplanted once large. Comes in about 6 shades of light blue all the way to a deep purple. Blooms for me, at least, in the late winter (starts mid march) and usually used up by end of April. Bees love it and plant tends to 'hum' in late March with a gazillion bees on it. Never seen one bloom in So Cal in the summer. Commonly planted shrub along some highway divisions and public landscaping. Very hard to screw up trying to grow this plant here in So Cal. Plant can grow quite tall, but most only 2-4' high.

Unlike the situation with many Echium species, this one is a long-term perrenial (live for many many years... at least here in Southern California). This is one way of identifying this species even, as most others seem to last only 2-4 years, depending on when they flower (most are monocarpic). This one is not, and flowers fairly reliably every April here in Southern California.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Adelaide,
Alabaster, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Aptos, California
Belmont, California
Big Sur, California
Bodega Bay, California
Boulder Creek, California
Brentwood, California
Carlsbad, California
Carmel, California
Citrus Heights, California
Clayton, California
Davis, California
Encinitas, California
Eureka, California
Fairfield, California
Fallbrook, California (2 reports)
Fremont, California
Glendale, California
Hayward, California
Lake Elsinore, California
Lake San Marcos, California
Lakewood, California
Long Beach, California
Los Angeles, California (2 reports)
Los Gatos, California
Manchester, California
Marina, California (2 reports)
Martinez, California (2 reports)
Modesto, California
Monterey, California
North Highlands, California
Oak View, California
Oakland, California
Oceanside, California
Pasadena, California
Perris, California
Pittsburg, California
Pleasanton, California
Ramona, California
Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Redwood City, California
Richmond, California
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California (3 reports)
San Francisco, California (2 reports)
San Leandro, California
San Mateo, California
Solana Beach, California
Sun City, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Three Rivers, California
Tracy, California
Upland, California
Vallejo, California
Valley Center, California
Winchester, California
Titusville, Florida
Ahuimanu, Hawaii
Broussard, Louisiana
Bar Harbor, Maine
Winona, Minnesota



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