How to Grow Pride of Madeira

Bright purple-blue flowers on spikes cover a large round bush in a coastal setting.
Pride of Madeira is native to the Canary Islands and flourishes in coastal settings.

Melinda Young Stewart / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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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. This means 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.

Like the butterfly bush, this 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.

Pride of Madeira has a mounding, low-branching habit and will grow quite large, up to eight feet tall and ten feet wide, making it a dramatic landscape specimen that can create a real visual impact in the garden.

The bright purple-blue flowers bloom for several weeks, making this plant a gorgeous specimen in the perennial garden. However, its hardiness is limited to a very narrow window, being cold hardy only in USDA zones 9 to 11. It's possible to grow it in containers and bring them indoors for overwintering, but due to its size this may not be practical unless you have plenty of space.

Scientific Name Echium candicans 
Common Name  Pride of Madeira
Plant Type  Flowering shrub
Mature Size  6 to 8 feet tall, 8 to10 feet wide
Sun Exposure  Full sun 
Soil Type  Well-drained, sandy loam 
Soil pH  Tolerant of all 
Bloom Time  Early spring through summer
Flower Color  Purple, blue
Hardiness Zones  USDA 9 to 11
Native Areas Canary Islands
Toxicity  Toxic if ingested
Small grey green bird perched on blue flowering panicle
Pride of Madeira's bright, nectar-rich flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators. Yani Dubin / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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.

Light

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 afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun, as the intensity of light is greater at that time.

Soil

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.

Water

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 fifty degrees, and will not survive below-freezing temperatures. It should be protected and covered 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.

Pruning

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.

Propagating Pride of Madeira

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 70F during the course of germination (up to two weeks); use a heating coil beneath planting trays if necessary.

Invasive Tendencies

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.