Echium wildpretii, commonly known as tower of jewels or red bugloss, is a biennial or short-lived perennial that is native to volcanic slopes on Tenerife Island in the Canary Islands where it is commonly found at elevations of 4,200 to 6,500 feet. It grows as a basal rosette (to 2-3’ wide) of silvery linear-lanceolate leaves (each to 8” long) in the first year followed in the second year (but sometimes not until the third year) by a single, bold flower stalk rising from the leaf rosette to as much as 5-6’ tall topped by a three foot long cylindrical panicle containing hundreds of showy, rich, funnel-shaped, densely-packed, coral-red to violet flowers. Flowers bloom in late spring to early summer in Tenerife. Tower of jewels was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 2002. Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it is best grown in light, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Thrives in arid and dry conditions. In its native habitat, it typically grows in rocky and volcanically-soiled slopes in cool summers. It tolerates temperatures down to 25 degrees F. Performs well in average soils as long as drainage is superb. Avoid rich or damp soils. Showy biennial for sunny dry locations.
Growing Instructions for the Tower of Jewels
The seeds like well-drained soil and full sun. Plant in potting soil with compost around 1/8-inch deep, and put a thin layer of sand over the top to anchor seeds in place. Mist lightly each day, and maintain a consistent temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the course of germination. The seeds germinate in 2-3 weeks.