Eryngium proteiflorum



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Eryngium proteiflorum


Don’t scream – it is not a thistle. Instead it is the exotic and highly desirable Eryngium proteiflorum, or Mexican Sea Holly.

Designer drama from flowers & foliage – but iron tough

Mexican Sea Holly is the darling of the designer set, for adding drama to planting designs, with both exotic flowers and architectural foliage.
Blooms are very large, and come like a host of silver-sea green Proteas. 
Then the foliage is strikingly handsome, like a giant silvery pineapple top. 
So there is nothing else like it to add drama and contrast to a garden design, with just a hint of the age of dinosaurs.
(Scroll down to “Growing” section for plant details, how / where to grow) 

Tough as old boots in the dry garden

Eryngium proteiflorum revels in the hottest, driest, most exposed, windiest, and sunniest position you have. It is after all a native of Mexico.
And it enjoys living with a sea view, where it will withstand salt in the wind.

Eryngiums invented “Drought Hardy”

Eryngiums have very low water needs.
So they accept dry conditions as normal, and are very drought resistant.
In fact if you give them too much water they will probably turn up their toes or sulk
They are right up there with Sedums as being highly recommended and water-wise for water conscious gardeners.

Superb cut flowers both fresh and dried

Eryngium proteiflorum has enormous blooms, plenty of them, and over a very long period from late spring to end of autumn.
And they make superb cut flowers. 
Eryngiums can be compared to Everlastings in texture, as they are firm to the touch.
So they make extremely long lasting vase flowers when they are cut fresh, and even longer when dried.
For dried arrangements you just hang them upside down until fully dry, and they retain their marvellous steely-blue colours.   


Growing: Eryngium proteiflorum

Height with flowers: Big, airy heads of large flowers, come up in clouds to 1 to 1.5m approx.
Width: Makes a clump of strikingly handsome foliage to a diameter of approx. 60cm. 
Position: Eryngiums revel in the hottest, driest, most exposed, windiest and sunniest position you have. 
Eryngiums will tolerate just a little shade, as long as it is well aired and dry. But under no circumstances should it be put in damp shade.
Eryngium are ideal for coastal and seaside gardens, where they tolerate salt spray well.

Eryngiums invented “Drought Hardy”

Soil: Eryngiums adore anything that drains perfectly.
So sandy, rocky, gravel soils are right to their taste.
They will certainly also thrive in average garden loam, as long as they are not overwatered or overfed.
But kiss them goodbye in heavy, wet, or clay soils.
They are not a bit fussy about soil pH, and so will live happily in soils on either the acid or the alkaline (lime) side of neutral.
And it is a mistake to over fertilize them, as they grow and flower best when kept on lean rations.
Eryngium preteiflorum has a particular liking for soils with low fertility.,
Water-wise: Eryngiums have very low water needs. They accept dry conditions as normal, and are very drought resistant. In fact if you give them too much water they will probably turn up their toes.
Frost: Eryngium proteiflorum is frost hardy down to approx. -10C. 

Handsome & architectural

Growth: Evergreen perennial that remains all year as a rosette of unusual jagged leaves.
Then in the summer it erupts up with thioe extraordinary silver-blue-green blooms, on large branching heads. Magic.
Fragrance: None, but Eryngiums have so many other highly desirable qualities we can forgive one little oversight.
Beneficial for wildlife: Bees and other useful pollinators work them very happily for abundant pollen and nectar, oblivious to any prickles.
Deer & Rabbit resistant: I dare the pests to take a bite and get a mouthful of prickles. Sadly they are too smart. And not even slugs and snails are interested in the tough, glossy foliage of Sea Hollies.

A “plant & forget” beauty

Low Care: Eryngiums are very low maintenance, with the only work being to cut the finished flower branches down at the end of autumn. Though many like to leave the dried seed heads for finches and other small seed eating birds over winter. The dried branches of seed heads certainly look very attractive rimmed with frost.
Origin: Hot, dry, rocky and desert places in Mexico.



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