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The Pride of Madeira, scientific name Echium candicans, is an evergreen perennial plant with large blue or purple flower clusters shaped like an inverted cone. It does well in temperate climates with mild winters and is very tolerant of drought conditions. It's a popular ornamental plant due to showy large blossoms and the ease of care. It can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.
Generally the Pride of Madeira is an extremely tall plant, often reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m), and spreading to a width of about 3 feet (0.9 m). It has silvery green foliage with a clump of leaves at its base arranged in a radial pattern. From the base rises a tall woody stalk that is covered in silvery green lance shaped leaves. The leaves are quite long at the bottom, gradually growing shorter as they progress up the stem pointing in all directions.
At the top of the stalk, the Pride of Madeira produces an impressively large conical cluster of flowers. This cluster is frequently 12 inches (30.5 cm) long with dozens of individual blossoms. Each small bloom is shaped like a tiny bell with several petals and long stamens emerging from the center. The color of the flowers can vary from deep blue or purple to paler shades; the color often appears darker near the centers of the blossoms and lighter towards the edges.
The Pride of Madeira plant is native to the island of Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago. It has spread to many areas of the world in cultivation and has "naturalized," or begun to appear naturally, in New Zealand and other countries. It spreads easily and often escapes from gardens to grow nearby. It does well in a temperate climate with mild winters and is frequently harmed by long periods of frost.
Gardening uses of the Pride of Madeira include flower beds, borders, and rock gardens. The ideal location is full sun to partial shade in soil that drains extremely well. Once the plant is established, it needs very little water and will often grow well with just rainfall. After it blooms in the spring, the spent flower heads should be removed and the plant can be lightly pruned.
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