How to Grow and Care for Pride of Madeira

Pride of Madeira shrub with purple cone-shaped flower panicles on spiky leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

The pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)  is named for its native area, the island of Madeira in the Canary Islands. This flowering shrub is well-loved for its colorful panicles of purple flowers, woody stems, and slender grey-green spiky leaves that appear in early spring. Pride of Madeira has a mounding, low-branching habit and can grow 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide, making it a dramatic landscape addition. The shrub can be somewhat invasive to coastal regions but only has a minimal environmental impact. Despite its beauty, the pride of Madeira is toxic to humans and animals.

Common Name Pride of Madeira
Botanical Name Echium candicans
Family Boraginaceae
Plant Type  Shrub
Mature Size  6-8 ft. tall, 6-10 ft. wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun 
Soil Type  Well-drained, sandy, loamy 
Soil pH  Acidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color  Purple, blue
Hardiness Zones  9-11 (USDA )
Native Areas Canary Islands
Toxicity  Toxic to humans , toxic to animals

Pride of Madeira Care

The pride of Madeira shrub is a popular landscaping plant in coastal regions and in the United States, in parts of southern California. Even in non-ideal conditions, the pride of Madeira is highly adaptable to a range of weather and like salty air, wind, bright sun, and rocky and low-nutrient soil. It does best in ample sunlight and humidity and doesn't need fertilizer to grow.

Due to its rapid and adaptable growth, it's essential to watch for invasiveness, especially in coastal regions. Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a wide range of insects and songbirds are drawn to its nectar-rich flowers. Trimming the flower panicles before they seed helps to cut down on dispersion.

Warning

The pride of Madeira is invasive in coastal regions.

Pride of Madeira shrub with spiky leaves and purple cone-shaped flower panicles on tall stems

The Spruce / K. Dave

Pride of Madeira with purple cone-shaped flower panicle closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Pride of Madeira shrub with dark purple cone-shaped flower panicles in between spiky leaves

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

Pride of Meidra thrives in four to six hours of full sun each day. Partial sun is also acceptable, and the afternoon sun is preferable to the morning sun, as light intensity is more significant at that time.

Soil

Pride of Madeira accepts versatile soil conditions, including clay, sand, and loam, and can tolerate a wide range of pH levels. In any soil, however, good drainage is essential. This shrub is also particularly salt-tolerant, given its island origins, making it an ideal plant in coastal climates.

Water

Pride of Madeira is fairly drought-tolerant, but watering regularly during the flowering season will ensure its blooms stay healthy and vibrant. But, if you notice its flower heads drooping in hot weather, or its foliage appearing yellow, water at the base of the shrub to revive it.

Temperature and Humidity

The pride of Madeira won't survive temperatures consistently below 50 °F. As a coastal plant, the pride of Madeira grows best in the humid ocean air but doesn't require any special humidity conditions in gardens unless planted in a desert climate. This shrub may need occasional misting in desert air to keep its leaves and flowers bright.

Fertilizer

Pride of Madeira doesn't require fertilizer, as it can survive in low-nutrient soil. If you want to fertilize the shrub lightly, you may use compost in the fall and mineral fertilizer in the spring.

Pruning

You should cut spent flower stalks regularly to maintain a neat appearance and encourage new growth. Light pruning in summer and late fall will also help preserve the fullness of the pride of Madeira's foliage.

Propagating Pride of Madeira

There are several benefits to propagating your pride of Madeira through cuttings. Primarily, your new shrub will be genetically identical to its parent shrub, creating uniformity in your garden. You should propagate pride of Madeira in mid-summer. Here's how to propagate:

  1. Remove a 3 inch softwood cutting from the shrub, just below the leaf nodes
  2. Disinfect your pruning shears
  3. Fill your pot with a mix of one part peat moss to one part sand
  4. Add a rooting solution to the pot
  5. Trim lower leaves
  6. Submerge the base of the cutting in the rooting hormone for three to five seconds
  7. Insert the bottom of the cutting into the pot
  8. Cover the pot with a piece of plastic that doesn't touch the cutting
  9. Place the pot in a bright spot with no direct sunlight
  10. Maintain a temperature of 70°F
  11. Wait several weeks for rooting

How to Grow Pride of Madeira From Seeds

Pride of Madeira can be easily propagated from seeds and does not require cold stratification because it is 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. Mist lightly each day, maintain a consistent temperature of 60°F to 70°F throughout germination (up to two weeks), and use a heating coil beneath planting trays if necessary.

Overwintering

You should protect your shrub in the winter by covering it with a frost blanket. It can temporarily survive in temperatures as low as 41°F, but no lower. You may overwinter your pride of Madeira in a bright spot indoors or a frost-free greenhouse.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Pride of Madeira is generally pest-free but can occasionally attract whiteflies, spider mites, and slugs. They are mainly disease-free, but insect infestations can attract viruses and bacteria. You can remove slugs manually, and you can eradicate spider mites by using insecticidal soap.

How to Get Pride of Madeira to Bloom

Pride of Madeira blooms in the spring and summer and presents spiky, purple, conical clusters of 20 inch flowers with red stamens. These flowers don't bear a fragrance but have sweet nectar that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. You can encourage bloom with proper watering practice and ensuring adequate sunlight. You should deadhead flowers and leaves throughout bloom, but only prune after blooming is complete. Pride of Madeira is biennial, so it only flowers every other year. However, in inland climates, they can sometimes present as perennials.

Common Problems With Pride of Madeira

The pride of Madeira is a very easygoing shrub but, like all plants, can present a few problems if not cared for attentively. Still, you likely won't have to deal with many issues while growing your pride of Madeira.

Dusty Appearance

If your pride of Madeira is planted in overly humid conditions, it may develop powdery mildew on its leaves and flowers, making the plant look dusty or dark. You should treat this by removing the affected foliage and treating it with an anti-fungal spray.

Yellowing Leaves

The pride of Madeira can develop yellowed leaves if it is over-fertilized or over-watered. Pride of Madeira grows well in poor soil, so if your soil is too rich, it may cause problems with leaves. Revaluate your soil or fertilizing practices if you notice yellowing leaves.

Sprawl

While the sprawling pride of Madeira may be ideal for your large garden, it can be challenging to control if you're planting in limited space. Excessive pruning isn't necessary, but you may prune very lightly to limit unwanted growth.

FAQ
  • How long can the pride of Madeira live?

    The average lifespan of the pride of Madeira is five years. If your shrub is subject to cold conditions for an extended period, it will likely die much sooner.

  • What are alternatives to pride of Madeira?

    If you're looking for a non-toxic alternative to pride of Madeira, consider the Californian lilac (Ceanothus). The Californian lilac bears bluish-purple flowers in vibrant clusters but isn't dangerous to humans or animals.

  • Can the pride of Madeira grow indoors?

    The pride of Madeira can grow indoors, although it requires slightly more maintenance. Ample sunlight is essential for these shrubs, so you must ensure adequate indoor conditions. You may keep your pride of Madeira indoors temporarily during winter.

Article Sources
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  1. Plants. California Poison Control System.

  2. Plants Poisonous to Livestock. Cornell CALS.