Tower of jewels plant

Echium wildpretii or Pink Fountain belongs to the Boraginaceae family and is an herbaceous biennial plant that grows up to 3 m in height. The species is endemic to the island of Tenerife in the Canary Island, and is found mainly in Las Cañadas del Teide. This evergreen plant can be found as a garden ornamental but is intolerant of low temperatures. As for most Echium it is favored by bee-keepers for its high nectar and pollen content. Wildpretii is short-lived but is an interesting plant that produces a basal dense rosette of narrow hairy silvery leaves during the first year and in the third year produces an erect inflorescence between 1 and 3 m tall (50 cm). The plant blooms from late spring to early summer. The plant dies after fruiting, leaving lots of seeds. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds! Echium wildpretii is a very showy tower indeed. This amazing plant can grow up to 10 feet tall (150-300 cm), but 6 feet is more usual. It doesn’t grow much in its first year, but concentrates on sending down a very thick tap root. The next year it grows a lot but usually they don’t flower in year two. The narrow silvery-grey leaves have a stiff texture. You can expect flowers in year three, and these are impressive and worth the wait. The wildpretii flowers from March to May in the lower regions or August in the mountains. From the centre of the Tower of Jewels rosette, grows a stately inflorescence with thousands of coral-pink flowers, which forms a thick column, sometimes up to 1 foot thick. Then the plant dies! If you have this plant, be sure to collect the seeds so you can re-sow them next spring! Hardiness zones: 8-11(-10c/15f, 4c/40f). The plant grows in the sub alpine zone of the ravines of Teide. It requires a lot of sun and is found in arid and dry conditions but is frost tolerant down to -5 ºC. This plant prefers a well-drained soil, made up of 10% humus 30% sand and 60% crushed lava or pumice, and is drought-tolerant, making it suitable for xeriscaping. It is an excellent plant for; seaside garden, shrub borders and containers. Be careful, handling the plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.

Echium Tower of Jewels Flower: Tips For Growing Tower Of Jewels Plants

One flower that is sure to make jaws drop is the Echium wildpretii of tower of jewels flower. The amazing biennial can grow from 5 to 8 feet tall and is coated in the second year with brilliant pink flowers. If sheer size doesn’t impress you, the silvery foliage and prominent anthers, give the flowers and foliage a sparkle when sunlight hits them. Keep reading for information on tower of jewels plant care.

About Tower of Jewels Plants

This variety of Echium is native to the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco. In this region the weather is mild with sunny warm sea breezes in summer and cool, but not freezing, winters. Echium tower of jewels starts its first year of life as a grayish to silver rosette set low to the ground.

In the second year, it produces a tall, thick flower spire with slightly ragged silver foliage below. The spire bursts with cerise to salmon pink-cupped flowers arranged in rows upon rows. Each of the nearly one hundred blooms has white anthers reaching out from the throat of the flower. These catch the light and along with the foliage, making the plant appear to be dipped in pixie dust.


plants are not terribly hardy, but a greenhouse is a great method for how to grow Echium. Temperate and warmer zone gardeners should try growing tower of jewels as a centerpiece for the exterior landscape. The Echium tower of jewels flower will give you years upon years of breathtaking beauty and architectural delight.

How to Grow Echium

The tower of jewels plant can survive temperatures below 20 F. (-6 C.) if given some protection but is generally a warm to temperate weather specimen. Cooler areas should try to grow the plant in a solarium or greenhouse.

The best soil is sandy to gritty and a cactus soil works well for potted plants. Site the Echium tower of jewels in full sun with some protection from the wind.

These plants are quite drought tolerant but superior tower of jewels care will include regular watering in summer to help produce a strong spire that doesn’t tip over.

Echium Tower of Jewels Life Cycle

The smitten gardener doesn’t have to worry in the second year when tower of jewels dies away. After the flowers are spent, hundreds of tiny seeds release to the ground below. Investigate carefully in spring and you will see many volunteer plants, starting the whole biennial cycle over anew.

Growing tower of jewels seeds in colder zones may require sowing in flats indoors at least eight weeks before the date of the last frost. Lay the seeds on top of the soil, dusting with fine sand, and put the flat on a seed heat mat or other warm location. Keep the medium lightly moist until germination and then ensure the seedlings get bright sunlight and daily water.

Tower of Jewels Care

These plants take care of themselves for the most part. Watch for slug damage to rosettes in the first year and indoor plants may become prey to whitefly and red spider mites.

Moderate water will help the plant grow strong and prevent it from tipping over. You may have to provide a stake if it gets too top heavy, especially in potted Echium.

Don’t cut back the flower until the seeds have had a chance to sow themselves. This plant will become the jewel of your garden and is both rewarding and low maintenance.

Echium Pininana

Echium wildpretii

The Echium Pininana, apart form never knowing quite how many n’s there should be, is a bit of a strange plant. Growing rapidly from seed, the Echium pininana soon makes its presence felt in the garden.

Echium Pininana

This plant is typically a biennial. The plant grows splendid large rosettes of slightly irritating leaves in the first year. This gives the Echium pininana as mentioned elsewhere a somewhat sinister appearance. Should the plant survive winter it will be in a bit of a state – scruffy and beleaguered- many of its leaves will have turned brown or fallen from the plant.

Echium Pininana enjoying October sunshine

Protecting the Echium pininana over winter is not an easy task. Often the plants will have grown several feet in height during their first summer. They will have quite a girth from their leaves. This makes wrapping with fleece impractical and unsightly, particularly if you have several plants. One or two nights at -4ºC will not bother the plant too much. If the plant is subjected to these temperatures night after night it simply gives up. Some winter protection for your echiums can be gained by planting them under trees.

Echiums don’t always agree with where you think they should grow. Placing them at the rear of the border in the hope they will grow upright will have your echiums crawling through the border only to poke out at the front. To get them to co-operate fully and grow upright they want a spot that receives sun from different angles. Stick them in a corner and they will lean forwards often

The same plants after the toil of winter

If your Echium pininana does survive the winter it enters a period of indecisiveness. Unfavourable conditions may cause your plant to think about flowering. Small side shoots begin appearing in between the leaves. The plant can just as soon change it’s mind again if conditions improve and start growing bigger leaves again. So getting your Echium through one winter does not necessarily mean it will flower.

Most commonly though if your echiums survived winter it will flower. To some people this phase is a delight. The growing tip begins to elongate producing flower buds in between the leaves. The leaves get smaller as the plant elongates and flowers form from the base up. Your menacing, sinister Echium metamorphoses into a giant cottage garden nightmare with tiny pretty blue flowers. Under ideal conditions this can reach 12 feet (3m+) or more. Zone 9 is not the ideal climate and plants are
more often than not, lost to successive frosts.

Echium ‘snow tower’

Do not worry too much about whether or not your Echium pininana will flower. From the perspective of a cool tropical garden, it is the pre flowering rosettes that are more desirable for setting a tropical mood. The flowers too come very early in the spring. Allow the bees to pleasure it, which they will in great swarms. Wait until you have enough ripe seeds for the foreseable future then compost it.

If your plant did survive the winter, chances are that you have found a good spot for it. Let the Echium pininana set seed. Once there is evidence of plenty of ripe seeds (small and black), whack the plant to encourage the seeds to fall. You should find that you have self seeded plants popping up for years to come. Collect plenty of seeds for yourself as well.

Growing Echium Pininana from seed

Growing Echium pininana from seed could not be easier. For your first plants you will need to buy the seeds. These are widely available. Apart from Echium pininana there are several other giant echiums hybrids to choose from. The foliage is similar but the flowers are different colours. Different hardiness is sometimes quoted for various plants but a good frost will wipe out the lot of them.

A nice upright
Echium pininiana
flower stalk
(For a change).

Fill a wide pot with multi-purpose compost. Sterilize with compost with boiling water and allow to cool. When the compost has cooled, surface sow the seeds. Press the seeds in to the compost but do not cover them. Light is important for germination. Plants grown indoors have have failed to germinate. Plants sown in the greenhouse germinate rapidly. Heat is not required for the germination of echiums.

As these plants germinate readily you do not need to get them started too soon. In fact germinating echiums too early can lead to a few problems. It is a good idea to prick out your echiums pininana seedlings as soon as they are big enough to handle. The plants grow rapidly and in the wind free environment of a greenhouse they do not concentrate on building a sturdy stem. The stems of small echiums are quite brittle. If the plants are allowed to race away they can become lanky (not in the etiolated sense) and are susceptible to being snapped easily by careless handling.

Planting Echium pininana

Echiums are best planted at the transition zones between the hardy exotics (plants that remain in the ground all year) and the tender exotics. As Echiums can occasionally survive a winter, you need to consider how they will look during the winter months. If the plants are placed amongst tender exotics, they will be left high and dry once the frost has wiped out the tender plants. This can leave them looking a bit silly. Also in the following spring, if they survive, they will get in the way of your new design. You will need to work round them whilst they flower and set seed. This can lead to conflict with your artistic tendencies.

Placing the echiums at the transition zones between the hardy exotics and the tender exotics allows the echiums to become part of a group. In the winter they will blend better and receive a modicum of protection from the other plants. If they flower they will be less in the way as you prepare for this years planting. The flowering period generally overlaps with planting out the garden and you have to sit and wait for it to finish. Once flowered and with seeds set the plants can be removed and replaced with other echiums, should you desire.

Due to their biennial nature echiums establish themselves quickly in the garden. The more you prepare the soil with home-made compost and composted manure the larger your plants will grow. It is important to give the plants plenty of water during their first few weeks to establish them well. Once established they become reasonably drought tolerant. It is also important to firm the soil well when planting. The plants become quite top heavy and if the soil is too loose they may tumble.

In areas where winter frost are quite severe and death is guaranteed, you can plant them where you like.

Be careful when transplanting your echiums from greenhouse to garden. Carrying a pot sideways, held by the rim, can lead to exclamations such as ‘Oh no!’ (or equivalent), when you reach the selected planting spot only to find you have a pot with a snapped stem. Hold the pots upright when carrying.

Self seeding Echium pininana

Should your echiums flower, you will be presented with plenty of seed. The seedlings will begin appearing all over the garden. They can easily be transplanted from an inappropriate location to a more suitable area.

A few echiums gathered up out of harms way. These can be fattened up in the greenhouse and replanted in the soil in a few weeks.

One way to increase the amount of self seeded plants is to add the flower spike to the compost heap. As the compost is added to the garden, new plants will keep popping up year after year saving you the need to propagate in the greenhouse. The flower spike can also be put through the garden shredder. The resulting pile of dust can be sprinkled in areas you wish to create colonies. Just rake the soil over in spring and they will do everything else for you.

To start echiums from cuttings, wear heavy rubber gloves to take 3-inch greenwood (softwood) cuttings from the tips of shoots in spring or early summer or semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer. Harvest those cuttings either in the early morning or late afternoon, severing each one just below a leaf node and dipping your pruning shears in a mix of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach between cuts to disinfect them. After filling a pot with a mix of one part peat moss to one part sand, mix up a rooting solution, using one part liquid rooting concentrate to 20 parts of water for softwood cuttings or 10 parts of water for semi-hardwood cuttings. Snip off each cutting’s lower leaves, leaving only a couple at the tip, and trim the remaining leaves back by half if they are large ones. Dunk the base of the cutting 1 inch deep in the rooting hormone solution for 3 to 5 seconds. Afterward, insert that base into the mix and tamp the mix tightly around it. Cover the pot only loosely with an inverted plastic bag which doesn’t touch the cuttings, as echiums don’t like overly moist conditions. If necessary, you can insert plastic drinking straws around the edge of the pot to hold the bag away from the cuttings. After placing the pot in an area with bright light but no direct sun, make sure that the soil remains lightly damp with temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit. Don’t disturb the cuttings for several weeks until new growth indicates that they have rooted.

Two LV men among those pardoned

Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2000 | 11:07 a.m.


Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Ken Hartung of Las Vegas is looking forward to restored citizenship privileges, including voting, and perhaps even going to law school.

Such are the dreams of a man who has been pardoned by the president of the United States.

Hartung, a successful insurance agency and securities investor with Prudential Insurance Co., and longtime Las Vegas jeweler Jack Weinstein were among 62 people pardoned Friday by President Clinton.

“It was a really tough road to hoe,” Hartung said, noting that the stress of the conviction and its pitfalls also contributed to the failure of his marriage of 27 years. He currently is going through a divorce.

Hartung, 48, pleaded guilty to intercepting a telephone call after a DEA probe resulted in his arrest and the arrest of his supervisor and a state narcotics agent in 1986.

Weinstein, 73, owner of the Tower of Jewels, was convicted in 1975 of interstate transportation of more than $12,000 worth of stolen jewels. Weinstein was charged with having more than 115 pieces of jewelry, including diamonds, antique watches, gold pins and brooches that the FBI said matched items taken in a Kansas City, Mo., robbery.

Weinstein denied knowing that the jewelry was stolen and appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the guilty verdict was upheld.

For Hartung, it was his third attempt to win a presidential pardon, and he was relieved to get the call with the good news on Friday.

“I felt very good about it,” Hartung said today. “I applied right after the conviction and was told I had to wait six years. Then I watched Pointdexter and others get pardons without any wait at all.”

John Pointdexter received a pardon after his role in the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan-Bush administration.

“They told me there was no need to apply,” said Hartung, who became an insurance agent and securities investor 14 years ago and applied for clemency three years ago.

Then a week ago a pardons attorney called and asked if he wanted to be reconsidered. “I learned about it (pardon) around noon on Friday, when they called and informed me President Clinton had signed the pardon on hour ago.”

Hartung admitted he used bad judgment by intercepting the call. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $50.

Hartung also said a year ago he wanted to call Clinton and tell him that mistakes can be overcome — referring to Clinton’s own past problems with the Whitewater land deal probe and Monica Lewinsky scandals.

While Hartung said he intends to attend law school, he has not yet decided which law school he would like to attend.

Jack Weinstein could not be reached for comment because he was with a customer, a Tower of Jewels spokeswoman said today.

The narcotics case that Hartung had been working on was dropped because of the use of illegal wiretaps.

Others who received Christmas clemency from the president included Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., one-time chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rostenkowski pleaded guilty to two counts of misusing public funds in 1996 and served time in a minimum-security prison in Wisconsin. He was released from a halfway house in October 1997 after 451 days in federal custody.

He was not even eligible to request a pardon through the Justice Department, which requires that a person wait at least five years after completing a sentence before filing a pardon application. However, Justice Department spokeswoman Chris Watney said the Constitution gives the president broad authority to grant pardons.

“I’m greatly appreciative,” Rostenkowski, 72, told reporters outside his Chicago home Friday.

Asked what he’s going to do now, he replied: “I’m going on with my life and continue to teach and continue to write op-ed pieces for the press, to advise and counsel people that need counseling with respect to government.”most prominent of 59 men and women pardoned Friday

Also among those pardoned were Archie Schaffer III, a chicken company executive convicted as a result of the investigation of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.

Schaffer, an executive of Tyson Foods Inc., in Springdale, Ark., was convicted in June 1998 of illegally trying to influence Espy,then the agriculture secretary, by inviting him to a May 1993 Tyson party in Russellville, Ark. He was convicted of violating a 93-year-old law that prohibits bribing meat inspectors.

Sun reporters Ed Koch, Marry Manning and Jace Radke contributed to this report.


From very small to very large, the Echiums are beloved by bees.

By: Steve Andrews

Many beekeepers will be familiar with the Borage (Borago officinalis) or Starflower because it is a plant that bees love. There are many species in the related Echium genus, which is also in the Borage family (Boraginaceae), that are just as good, if not even better at attracting these honey-producing insects.

A common name for some of the most spectacular types of Echium is “Tower of Jewels,” and with good reason because of the massive flowering spikes the plants produce. Each “tower” is covered in thousands of tiny nectar-bearing flowers that bees simply cannot resist, and humans find these plants very attractive as well. If you grow a Tower of Jewels it will be a definite talking point. So many of our favorite pollinating insects can be attracted to an Echium plant that perhaps “Tower of Bees” would be just as appropriate as its name!

Viper’s Bugloss.

Viper’s Bugloss

Incidentally, bugloss is another name for plants in this fascinating genus, after the type species, the Viper’s Bugloss (E. vulgare) or Blueweed. This species will grow happily in places with cold Winters, is found throughout Europe, and was introduced into North America and Canada. This is worth knowing because it illustrates the fact that there are species of Echium that can grow in a wide range o f temperatures and climates. You should be able to find the types suited to your garden, wherever you live.

Viper’s Bugloss gets its name because its small nut-like seeds were thought to resemble a snake’s head and its spotted stems were thought to look like snakeskin. It grows in waste ground, fields, grassy places and in sand dunes.

Viper’s Bugloss is a much smaller plant than any of the Tower of Jewels species but it has flowering spikes of pretty blue flowers, and like the other Echiums, it is a biennial. Because it produces plenty of pollen and nectar it is a flower the bees find irresistible.

But now let us take a look at some of the other Echium species we can grow in our gardens that will benefit our bees.

Red Bugloss.

Red Bugloss

Echium wildpretii is one of the types often referred to as a “Towers of Jewels,” and is also commonly known as the Red Bugloss or Mt Teide Bugloss. The names are very apt because it has very tall flowering spikes of red flowers, and it is found growing naturally up on Mt Teide in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The Red Bugloss, or “Taginaste Rojo,” as it is called in Spanish, is actually a very rare species in the wild because it is only found in this mountainous location and around the mountain village of Vilaflor. The Red Bugloss, which can reach around three m (10 ft) in height is often grown in gardens and parks, though it needs protection in areas where there is frost in Winter. Seeds of this species are easy to find in Internet searches, and it will grow successfully in many parts of North America. Red Bugloss grows best in the ground but can also be cultivated in pots and containers as long as these are big enough and well-drained. The Red Bugloss hates having wet feet! In its first year it produces a large rosette of leaves, which is followed in the spring of the following year by its flowering spike. It is well worth waiting for the second year of growth because the Red Bugloss definitely has the wow factor!

Pride of Madeira.

Pride of Madeira

The Pride of Madeira (E. candicans) is another very aptly named plant because it comes from Madeira originally, and it is a flower the island can certainly be proud of! Although, not a “Tower of Jewels,” as such, this member of the Echium family grows into a very large bush that in Spring and early Summer produces flower spikes at the end of its branches. Each flower head is covered in tiny blue blooms with red stamens, and also covered in bees and other pollinating insects. The Pride of Madeira is widely available as an ornamental plant, and being drought-tolerant is especially suited to coastal gardens and parks, such as those in California, where it grows so well it has become regarded as an invasive species.

Tree Echium.

The Tree Echium

The Tree Echium (E.pininana), Pine Echium or Giant Viper’s Bugloss, is another very aptly named species too because it gets very tall indeed. Very much a Tower of Jewels, the Tree Echium reaches four m (13 ft) with a stoutly-stemmed inflorescence of small deep blue blooms. Sold as “Blue Steeple,” and easy to find by Googling for the seeds online, this plant will grow in many areas of the world besides its natural habitat in the mountainous forests of La Palma in the Canary Islands, and although it is a subtropical species it does very well in Ireland and many parts of the UK. In its first year, the Tree Echium grows as a rosette with a short stem bearing lance-shaped slightly hairy silvery-colored leaves. It is a biennial, and sometimes a triennial, which in its second or even third year, produces the tall Tower of Jewels of its name. Besides parts of the UK, this Giant Viper’s Bugloss will also grow in North America, including California, just like the Pride of Madeira. In its natural habitat the Tree Echium is now an endangered species due to habitat destruction, so growing it in our gardens is actually helping in the conservation of this amazing plant, as well as benefiting the bees.


Echium simplex

Echium simplex is a white-flowered Tower of Jewels that, like the Mt Teide Bugloss, comes from Tenerife. It is another very rare plant in the wild state and is mainly found in the cliffs and mountains of the Anaga Mountain range in the north of the island. It is a very attractive plant for gardens in warm temperate climates and can do well if given plenty of sunlight. Like many other Echiums it produces a rosette of leaves in its first year and then erupts with a glorious Tower of Jewels in the Spring of its second year. It grows to an approximate height of anything from one to three m (three to 10 ft) and looks very impressive when in full bloom. It is a Tower of Jewels that provides us with a visual delight and at the same time delights our friends the honey bees!

One of my favorite volunteers in my yard is the aptly named Tower of Jewels, Echium wildpretii. I first saw one of these beautiful rose-colored towers while living in San Francisco and was smitten. When I moved to Solano County, I planted one in my front yard and have enjoyed the volunteers ever since.

Tower of Jewels is a biennial species of Echium that forms a silvery-gray, narrow-leaved rosette approximately 1-2 feet wide in the first year. The second year, the plant forms a single spike that can range from 5 to 8 feet tall (in my experience, the height seems to depend somewhat on whether the plant is watered). At full bloom, the spike is covered with hundreds of small rosy pink to almost red blossoms. It’s spectacular! Plus, bees love it.

After blooming, the plant sets seed and can self-sow year after year. Each year or two, I find a volunteer in my yard that, if left undisturbed, will eventually send up a beautiful flower spike. The plant is drought tolerant and I never both to water any volunteers. The seeds don’t seem to spread far and any unwanted seedlings are easily hoed up. (However, I am keeping an eye on the California Invasive Plant Council’s inventory at to make sure that this species isn’t becoming an invasive problem.)

It is a delightful surprise to find a small silvery rosette in my yard, knowing that the following spring I’ll have a Tower of Jewels to enjoy.

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