Cirsiums are incredible wildlife-friendly pollinators and their foliage can add an extra texture to your garden. Our first cirsium was brought on the Isle of Skye and proved to be an eye-catching feature planted in between lupins and oriental poppies.
These plants are really easy to grow and will suit any soil even clay although you will need to add in compost and grit before planting. Most cirsiums prefer to be planted in a sunny position and although they die back in the autumn will emerge once more in the spring. Removing spent flower stems will encourage more blooms to appear later on.
Unlike wild thistles cirsiums are well-behaved and spread steadily but slowly. In case you wish to dig them up five years later remember they have a really strong root structure (I should know as I dug my 'Atropurpureum' up and it was a battle because its roots were deeply embedded in the ground).
Cirsium 'Mount Etna' £4.00
(9cm pot not available this year)
Pink and white pincushion heads on tall stems. Prefers full sun but not fussy about type of soil. Flowers between June and September if deadheaded. Will grow to around 60cm in both height and spread. Does not set seed for me. Hardy.
Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum £4.50
(9cm pot available now - 3 pots)
Crimson thistle heads that try to flower all year round between May and September. Prefers moist soil as 'rivulare' means "from the river side" but will tolerate dry conditions to an extent. Grows best in full sun. Reaches a height of around 120cm with a spread of 60cm. Will not self-seed as sterile. Hardy.