Globe Thistle Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Ruthenian globe thistle


This plant is known commonly as globe thistle. It is recognized for its striking spherical, spiky flowers that are a vibrant steel-blue hue, creating a dramatic visual impact in the garden. Each flower head is tightly packed with tiny individual flowers, giving it a pincushion-like appearance. The flowers emerge atop sturdy, branching stems, which are surrounded by deeply lobed, coarse leaves. These leaves are usually a grayish-green color, providing a nice contrast to the bold blooms. The plant has an overall spiky look, not just because of the flowers but also due to the texture of the leaves and stems. The dramatic flower heads can attract butterflies and bees, making the globe thistle not only a visually appealing plant but also beneficial for pollinators.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Globe Thistle, Southern Globethistle, Ruthenian Globeflower

    • Common names

      Echinops ritro, Echinops exaltatus, Echinops sphaerocephalus subsp. ruthenicus, Echinops sphaerocephalus var. ruthenicus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Globe thistle (Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus) is not widely reported to be toxic to humans. There is limited information on its toxicity profile, and it is not commonly listed as a hazardous plant. However, it is always prudent to exercise caution and avoid ingestion of plants that are not explicitly deemed edible. If a person has ingested parts of globe thistle and is experiencing adverse symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

    • To pets

      Globe thistle (Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus) is not commonly known to be toxic to pets. There is a lack of specific information regarding its toxicity to animals like cats and dogs. As with humans, non-edible plants should typically be kept out of reach of pets to avoid potential risks. If a pet ingests globe thistle and shows signs of distress or poisoning, it is important to consult a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters)

    • Spread

      1-2 feet (0.3-0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Echinops ritro, commonly known as Globe Thistle, is known to attract bees and butterflies, which are important for the pollination of many other plant species.
    • Drought Tolerance: Globe Thistle has good drought resistance, making it suitable for xeriscaping and low-water gardens.
    • Low Maintenance: Being a hardy perennial, it requires minimal care once established - ideal for gardeners who prefer plants that do not require constant attention.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: With its distinctive spherical blue or violet flower heads, Globe Thistle adds visual interest and texture to garden designs.
    • Wildlife Habitat: The plant can provide shelter and nesting sites for small wildlife, adding to the biodiversity of the garden environment.
    • Soil Health: As with many perennials, Globe Thistle can help to improve soil structure and health through its root system and natural lifecycle.
    • Long Blooming Period: Its flower heads bloom for an extended period, typically from mid to late summer, providing long-lasting color in the garden.
    • Cut and Dried Flowers: Globe Thistle's striking flowers are excellent for cutting and using in both fresh and dried floral arrangements.
    • Deer Resistant: It is generally resistant to deer, making it a good choice for areas where deer browsing can be a problem for gardeners.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Anti-inflammatory: Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus may have been used in traditional medicine for its potential anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Diuretic effect: The plant is thought to act as a diuretic, increasing the excretion of urine.
    • Hepatoprotective: There is some belief that the plant may offer liver-protecting benefits.
    • Antipyretic: It has been used to potentially reduce fever.
    • Wound healing: The plant has been traditionally applied to wounds, suggesting it may assist in the healing process.
    However, detailed scientific studies are necessary to substantiate these traditional uses and the actual efficacy of Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus for these medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Echinops ritro, commonly known as Globe Thistle, can serve as a unique dye plant; its roots are known to produce a dark, almost black dye.
    • In floristry, dried Globe Thistle flower heads are often used in bouquets and arrangements for their striking spherical shape and thistle-like appearance.
    • Globe Thistle may act as a natural barrier when planted densely due to its spiky foliage, deterring unwanted animals or intruders from entering certain areas of a garden.
    • They have potential use in eco-printing, a technique where plants leave their shapes, color, and marks on fabric or paper.
    • The stems of Globe Thistle, when properly dried and treated, can be used in crafts for making picture frames or woven into decorative items such as wreaths.
    • The plant is sometimes used in companion planting strategies to attract beneficial insects and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, to the garden.
    • Globe Thistle's robust growing habits can be used for stabilizing soil and preventing erosion on slopes and banks.
    • The unique texture and form of Globe Thistle lend it to be used as an architectural plant in garden designs, providing visual interest and contrast.
    • The silver-blue foliage of Globe Thistle can be utilized in color-themed gardens, particularly in moon gardens where they can reflect the moonlight at night.
    • They also serve as an educational tool in horticultural classes or workshops, demonstrating the diverse forms and adaptations of plants within ornamental horticulture.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Globe Thistle is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Globe Thistle is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Mystery and Intrigue: Globe thistle, as it is commonly known, has an almost alien, spherical bloom that can symbolize the unknown and the mysterious aspects of nature.
    • Protection: The spiky exterior of the globe thistle's bloom can represent defense and protection, suggesting that it's a symbol for safeguarding oneself or something precious.
    • Independence and Self-Reliance: Globe thistles are hardy and drought-resistant plants, which can be associated with the ability to stand alone and not require much from others.
    • Attraction and Magnetism: The globe thistle has vibrant blue flowers that can draw the eye and attract attention, symbolizing allure and charisma.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 3-4 years
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Globe thistle should be watered deeply but infrequently to mimic the natural arid conditions it thrives in. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, typically watering once every week or two, depending on the climate and weather conditions. During hot, dry periods, you may need to water more frequently, such as once a week, using approximately one to two gallons per plant to ensure the soil is moistened well. In cooler or rainy periods, water less often. It's crucial not to overwater, as the plant prefers drier conditions and can be susceptible to root rot in overly moist soil.

  • sunLight

    Globe thistle prefers full sun conditions to thrive and bloom profusely. Ensure it's planted in a spot where it receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. If grown in too much shade, the plant may become leggy and produce fewer flowers. The plant can handle some partial shade, especially in the hottest parts of the day, but full sun is ideal for optimal growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Globe thistle is hardy and can handle a range of temperatures, with ideal growth occurring between 50°F and 75°F. The plant can survive minimum temperatures down to about -30°F once established, making it suitable for many temperate climates. During the growing season, maintaining temperatures within the ideal range will promote strong growth and flowering. Globe thistle is also heat-tolerant and can withstand highs above 80°F, though it should be monitored for water during excessively hot periods.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune globe thistle to maintain its shape and encourage new growth by cutting back spent flowers after blooming, typically in late summer or fall. This will also prevent self-seeding if desired. Additionally, you can cut the plant back to the ground in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning globe thistle annually promotes a tidier plant and can encourage more vigorous blooms the following season.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Globe thistle requires well-draining soil with a pH range of 5.8 to 7.2. A mixture of loam, sand, and compost is ideal to facilitate proper drainage and nutrient content. Adjusting the pH with lime or sulfur may be necessary to maintain the optimal pH level for this plant.

  • plantRepotting

    Globe thistle does not need frequent repotting and can be done every 2-3 years or when the plant has outgrown its current container. Due to its ability to tolerate poor soil conditions, repotting is less about soil replenishment and more about providing adequate space for growth.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Globe thistle thrives in average humidity levels typically found in outdoor environments. It can tolerate a range of humidity conditions and does not require any special humidity adjustments when grown in its preferred settings.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide full sun, well-draining soil, and occasional water.

    • Outdoor

      Full sun, well-drained soil, space 18-24 inches apart.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus, commonly known as Globe Thistle, begins its life cycle when seeds germinate in spring, often after a period of cold stratification that breaks seed dormancy. Seedlings establish a rosette of leaves at the soil surface, focusing on root system development before stem elongation. In the following year or subsequent years, the plant enters the vegetative growth phase, developing a tall, rigid stem with spiny, deeply divided leaves and eventually forming characteristic spherical, blue to violet flower heads in mid to late summer. The flowers are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects attracted to the nectar and pollen. After pollination, the plant develops seed heads that dry by late summer or autumn, releasing seeds that are dispersed by wind, and the plant then enters a period of dormancy. The Globe Thistle is a perennial plant, capable of regenerating from its rootstock to repeat this life cycle for several years.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • The Echinops ritro subsp. ruthenicus, commonly known as Globe Thistle, can be effectively propagated through seed sowing. Seed sowing should ideally take place in spring, after the last frost, when soil temperatures warm to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 21 degrees Celsius). To propagate by seeds, sow them directly into well-draining soil at a depth of about 1/4 inch (around 6 millimeters). The seeds require sunlight to germinate, so they should not be covered deeply. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Germination typically occurs within 2-3 weeks. Once seedlings have grown strong enough, they can be thinned out and eventually transplanted to their final growing location, being sure to space them sufficiently to accommodate their mature size.