Named for its native home of origin, the island of Madeira in the Canary Islands, this flowering woody perennial is well-loved for its colorful panicles of purple flowers that appear in early spring. Pride of Madeira is a flowering shrub, as opposed to a perennial with growth that dies back, but it is biennial so it only forms flowers every other year.
This plant has sturdy woody stems, slender grey-green spiky leaves, and a cone-shaped flower panicle at the end that bears many tiny flowers, somewhat similar to the flowers of a butterfly bush/buddleia.
Pride of Madeira has a mounding, low-branching habit and may grow quite large, up to 8-feet tall and 10-feet wide, making it a dramatic landscape specimen that can create a real visual impact in the garden. Plant pride of Madeira seeds in early spring, after the last frost.
The bright purple-blue flowers bloom for several weeks, making this plant a gorgeous specimen in the perennial garden.
|Scientific Name||Echium candicans|
|Common Name||Pride of Madeira|
|Plant Type||Evergreen flowering shrub|
|Mature Size||6-8 ft. tall, 6-10 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Well-drained, sandy loam|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Early spring through summer|
|Flower Color||Purple, blue|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA )|
|Native Areas||Canary Islands|
|Toxicity||Toxic to humans and animals|
Pride of Madeira Care
This plant is a popular landscaping plant in parts of southern California, where the temperatures are ideal. Grown inland, it is very manageable, but it can be somewhat invasive in coastal areas. That said, pride of Madeira is highly adaptable to a range of weather and growing conditions found in coastal locations, such as salt air, wind, bright sun, and rocky soils.
Like the butterfly bush, this fast-growing plant is also very attractive to pollinators. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a wide range of insects and songbirds are drawn to its nectar-rich flowers.
As easily grown as this shrub is, it's important to watch for its tendency to become invasive. Trimming the flower panicles before they go to seed helps to cut down on the dispersion of seeds. This is a fast-growing shrub and also somewhat short-lived, so perhaps its tendency to reseed itself freely is its way of ensuring survival to spread its beauty. Nevertheless, its invasiveness can be a problem.
This plant thrives in full sun conditions and is happiest in a sunny spot with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Partial sun locations may be acceptable, but the afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun, as the intensity of light is greater at that time.
Pride of Madeira is not very fussy about soil, but it does need good drainage. It's adaptable to a wide variety of soil conditions, including clay, sand, and loam, and is also tolerant of a wide range of soil pH levels. This shrub is also particularly salt-tolerant, given its island origins, making it a useful plant for coastal landscaping.
Pride of Madeira is fairly drought-tolerant. If you do notice the flower heads drooping in hot weather, or the foliage appearing to dry out, water at the base of the shrub to revive it. Generally speaking, watering regularly during the flowering season will ensure the blooms stay bright and vibrant.
Temperature and Humidity
The pride of Madeira shrub will not thrive for long in temperatures consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit—its hardiness is limited to a very narrow window, being cold hardy only in USDA zones 9-11—and will not survive below-freezing temperatures. It should be protected and covered with a frost blanket in the event that an unseasonable drop in temperature occurs.
Being a coastal plant, it enjoys the humid ocean air but doesn't require any special humidity conditions in gardens unless it's planted in a desert climate. In desert air, this shrub may need occasional misting to keeps its leaves and flowers looking vibrant.
Spent flower stalks should be cut off regularly to keep the shrub looking neat and encourage fresh growth. Dead or damaged branches or stems should be pruned throughout the season. Light pruning in summer will also help maintain the fullness of this plant's foliage.
How to Grow Pride of Madeira From Seed
Pride of Madeira can be easily propagated from seeds and does not require cold stratification since it is a plant suited to warm growing zones.
Plant in potting soil with compost around 1/8-inch deep, and put a thin layer of sand over the top to anchor seeds in place. Mist lightly each day, and maintain a consistent temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the course of germination (up to two weeks); use a heating coil beneath planting trays if necessary.
Common Pests and Diseases
Pride of Madeira is generally pest-free, but occasionally it will attract whiteflies, spider mites, and slugs. Slugs are easy to get rid of: You can pick them off your plant, then leave little dishes of beer for them to crawl into. Whiteflies and spider mites can be resolved by using insecticidal soap.