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Deep blue spires make it the pride of Madeira.

From the sea cliffs of tbe island of Madeira comes a plant that's perfectly suited to the coast and coastal valleys of California-pride of Madeira (Echium fastuosum). A billowy mound in youth, with age it twists into sinuous sculpture. But its finest glory comes in late spring, when spires of electric blue-purple Howers stretch toward the sky.

Although it performs best near the coast, some inland gardeners grow it with good results on slopes or in protected sites. Plants survive cold down to about 15[deg], but lesser frosts in March and later can kill the developing bloom spikes.

Gallon-can plants are the best way to start; they take off as soon as you plant them. Larger ones tend to be rootbound and grow more slowly.

Water regularly until the plant is well established, at least once a month or so through the first summer. In following years it should need no water near the coast. Inland, it will need water about once a week throughout every dry season. Pride of Madeira grows and blooms best in full sun and fairly poor, dry soil. In rich soil, it's all leaf and no bloom. Good drainage is a must. You can encourage a sinuous silhouette by thinning out limbs to reveal structure. Or keep old plants compact and bushier by pinching or pruning back branch tips. Even pruned plants normally spread 5 to 6 feet tall and wide. When flowers finish, cut off each stalk and a few inches of foliage below it.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Mar 1, 1989
Words:252
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