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Purple-flowered pride of Madeira could be the star of your garden

Pride of Madeira

Echium candicans

Planting areas: USDA Zones 14 to 24

Size: 5 to 6 feet tall and wide

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: Remove spent flowers after blooming. Cut back in late fall to contain size and encourage fuller growth.

Bloom season: Spring and summer

Water needs: Low water, drought tolerant.

Snapshot: This rapidly growing evergreen shrub is easily recognized by its signature 20-inch, bluish-purple flower spikes that top foliage in spring and summer.

The blooms attract a wealth of bees, hummingbirds and butterflies. Conversely, deer avoid them.

As a native of the Madeira Islands off the coast of Portugal, pride of Madeira is naturally adapted to California’s coastal areas. It does well in drier soils, but requires good drainage. It also typically tolerates short cold snaps between 25 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

In coastal zones, pride of Madeira typically needs no supplemental water once established. But it may require weekly irrigation during the summer in hot inland areas.

The shrub’s tall upright branches and narrow grey-green foliage make it an excellent background plant in the garden or against a wall. Make sure to give it plenty of room to spread out, since it tends to smother other plants grown in its shadow.

Pride of Madeira also tends to reseed itself. While requiring some additional upkeep, this trait provides free pups to replace this short-lived shrub. Its typical lifespan is about five years.

When pruning or handling this plant, wear protective gloves as its stiff hairs can cause skin irritation. Also use caution around young children and pets, since all parts of the plant are considered toxic if ingested.

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