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Cirsium - Growing Guide

Growing Cirsium rivulare

This is an attractive clump forming perennial ‘thistle’ originating from Europe and Russia. It is a border plant of some merit but they can also be used to naturalise themselves in a damp meadow or in a wild garden.

The plant has oblong to obovate pointed, spiny and deeply lobed or pinnate dark green leaves up to 12in long.

In mid summer and early autumn C. rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ produces erect stems holding spherical deep crimson flower heads which can be up to 4ft tall. These flower spikes can be cut and dried before the flowers are actually out.

This plant is totally hardy and will only really need supports for its flower spikes if they are exposed to wind. Even in pots it holds itself upright with little difficulty.

The plant is easily divided to create new plants when dormant in winter or early spring. After a few years this is probably advisable in a border context as it spreads quickly.

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