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Sea holly

Eryngium selections

Sea holly

You know that old saw about plants -- "thrives on neglect"? It must have been created for sea holly. It does best in poor soil with little water and baked conditions. Yet it has striking flowers, an interesting prickly texture, excellent drought- and deer-resistance, and even salt-tolerance. Plants form taproots, so they are difficult to transplant once established, but starting new ones from seed is easy. Remove spent flowers to prevent excess self-seeding.

Plant Type:
Plant Height:
1-6 feet tall
Plant Width:
1-3 feet wide
Landscape Uses:
Containers,Beds & Borders
Special Features:
Flowers,Winter Interest,Cut Flowers,Dried Flowers,Drought Tolerant,Deer Resistant,Easy to Grow
Top Varieties

Eryngium alpinum has deeply serrated bracts (petals) surrounding a central cone, giving the flower a lacy appearance. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 5-8
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Eryngium amethystinum is the hardiest species. It bears purple-blue flowers on plants 2-1/2 feet tall. Zones 2-10
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Eryngium planum has silver-blue flowers on plants 2-3 feet tall. Its leaves are scalloped rather than spiny. Zones 5-10
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Eryngium giganteum gets its name from its dramatic ghostly gray-green to silvery blue flowers on plants up to 6 feet tall. Also sometimes called giant sea holly. Zones 5-10
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Eryngium yuccifolium is a native of the Great Plains. It is a stately plant that reaches 4-5 feet tall and bears silvery white balls on spiny foliage that resembles that of yucca. Extracts of the plant were used by Native Americans as medicine. Zones 4-8
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Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue', also sometimes sold as 'Jos Eijking', is a sterile variety that does not self-sow. Zones 5-9
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Plant It With

The silvery foliage of yarrow combines beautifully with that of sea holly. Yellow flowered forms look especially attractive with the purplish blooms of sea holly.


The striking upright mounds of sea holly look great surrounded by soft, silvery white artemisia foliage.


Daylily is another tough-as-nails plant to grow with sea holly in inhospitable sunny sites. Choose from the many colors available to coordinate with lavender sea holly.