Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Echium handiense

Last week, when it came time to select my favorite plant of the week, I said I was torn between a plant with flowers the color of blue sky and a plant with flowers the color of the pink sunrise.  The latter plant, a Camellia hybrid, won out in the selection process.  This week I'm featuring the plant with the beautiful blue flowers, Echium handiense 'Pride of Fuerteventura,' even though those flowers have begun to fade.  However, it should be noted that the flower buds began opening before New Year's Day.  In another week or so, I'll cut the flowering stems back, which should produce another flush of bloom within a couple of months.

Echium handiense, photographed this week with blooms a little past their prime

2nd Echium handiense, photographed this week in better light

Better photograph taken in February 2013

I have 2 Echium handiense, both purchased at the South Coast Botanic Garden's fall plant sales, one in 2011 and the other in 2012.  It's a dwarf variety, native to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.  I discovered that it's on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.  In its native habitat it grows on the summit of a mountain range influenced by trade wind fog, where its principal threats are grazing goats, sheep and rabbits.  Fortunately, I'm not troubled by any of those critters here and, thus far at least, the destructive raccoons have ignored it.

It's said to grow up to 4 feet (1.2m) tall and 6 feet (1.8m) wide, although my 2 are still about half that size.  It's evergreen, drought-tolerant and enjoys full sun.  I was unable to find any specific references to its cold hardiness but, as one site likened its cultural requirements to those of Echium candicans, we may be able to assume that it's suited to USDA zones 9a-10b (Sunset zones 14-24), with a cold tolerance in the range of 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.9 to -1.1C).

In my garden it blooms in late winter into spring.  The flowers are a wonderful medium blue color with pinkish purple centers.

The stems are relatively brittle, as my friend found out when she bought one at the last Botanic Garden plant sale, but they seem to recover easily from breakage.  This is fortunate as the one in the second picture at the top of the post took a beating during tree trimming last month.

Echium handiense 'Pride of Fuerteventura' is my contribution to the favorite plants meme hosted by Loree at danger garden.  Please visit her site here for her favorite selection of the week and links to other gardeners' selections.


  1. That echium looks unique and quite different from the echiums we usually see grown here (as annuals that is). Love the blue flowers!

  2. That's a beautiful flower. What a great color!

  3. I've never met an echium I didn't like and sure enough, this one is a winner too! That name though....'Pride of Fuerteventura'...that's a mouthful!

  4. It's lovely, I can't resist blue flowers. I have grown some Echium pinniana from seed but as it doesn't flower the first year from seed I don't suppose I will be able to keep it going here.
    Is this one a biennial?

  5. Lovely blue, I enjoy seeing yours though it wouldn't grow here. I'm envious thinking of those winter flowers and the wonderful sunshine, but at least hellebores should be blooming here soon, and I will have some new blue flowers in my garden this year.


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