Plant Now: Eryngium



Sea holly (Eryngium planum) is a fashionable cut flower with its steel-blue pincushion blooms on stems up to 120cm high. The long-lasting flowers are superb in bouquets and vase arrangements. See the gorgeous bouquets here – the top wedding bouquet, which features over at Green Wedding Shoes, is predominantly green and white, with a subtle addition of purple eryngium. The boutonnieres (photo from the beautiful Rock My Wedding website) include olive leaves, lavender, statice and eryngium.

Eryngium is a hardy perennial, tolerant of salt winds and of poor soil so long as it’s free-draining. In fact, if the soil is overly fertile, the flowers tend to sprawl.

The thistle-like flowers appear in late summer/autumn for several months.

Seeds can be sown in trays now, but chill them in the fridge for 10-14 days before sowing to aid germination.


  1. If seeds such as eryngium and cornflower are planted now do they overwinter under cover or can they be transplanted into the ground in winter? Thanks

    • Hi Judith
      Cornflowers and eryngiums are both hardy plants and can be sown directly in the ground now. However, if you want better control of them, you can sow them in pots and keep them undercover. Eryngiums have a taproot so I would sow them in pots rather than trays if you want to follow this method. I wouldn’t plant either out until late winter or spring, depending on where you live. You won’t get shoots from plants until later anyway. As an experiment, you could try sowing some directly in the ground and some in pots. Good luck!

  2. I planted cornflower seeds this time last year directly and only three out of 25 survived or germinated (possibly due to the same snail explosion I am experiencing now).

    I also planted Eryngium seedlings and they all survived I think but did not grow at all through winter, they took off in spring though.

    Question in return, are there any blue/violet flowering or yellow-orange perennials that flower from now through till late winter that you know of? . I also need, for my back garden colour scheme, a red/orange winter flowers. Seems to be slim pickings?


    • Thanks for sharing your experiences with cornflowers and eryngium, Fiona. 🙂
      Tibouchina flowers now through to late winter, but it depends where you live. It will only be flowering now in warmer areas, say from Auckland and northwards. Pansies, polyanthus and primulas, of course, are the usual winter bloomers. Iceland poppies will bloom from mid to late winter, as will anemones, if you get them in now. You can get some beautiful purple coloured anemones these day, though not quite blue/violet. Try cineraria too. You can look for a leucadendron with red/orange bracts, which hold their colour in autumn and winter, and some grevilleas too. Some nemesias have orange flowers. If you’re looking for red/orange foliage, go for nandina. And some of the cornus, like Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’, have brilliant red stems in winter (once the leaves drop).

  3. Sandi Cowan says:


    Orange English marigold Calendula officinalis.these flower through winter in Adelaide during winter through spring and summer. You can get yellow and orange ones.

  4. Cherie Gourlay says:

    I have grown the Sea Holly easily, but found the cut flowers really starts to STINK after a few days inside. Others have noticed it too. I read up about it & it sounds quite a common complaint. Do you have any suggestions on how to limit this? I ie: Something in the water or a preferred harvest time?

    • Hi Cherie
      You are right, it can pong, and unfortunately there’s not much you can do about it. I have heard of some florists rinsing the whole cut stems under water with no further problems. I haven’t tried this myself, but it’s worth a go.

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