Alpine Sea Holly: Adds Distinctive Architectural Qualities To Your Garden

Alpine Sea Holly: Adds Distinctive Architectural Qualities To Your Garden

Alpine Sea Holly

Photo Compliments Of Jeff Dallien

Eryngium alpinum, or you will hear it more commonly called alpine sea holly adds wonderful detail and distinctive architectural qualities to your garden or landscape. It will reach a height of around 2 feet at maturity so position it properly within your plants. The flowers are so unusual with their feather-like, multiple spiny bracts that radiate around 1.5 inch tall, cylindrical umbels that are steel-blue, or white in color.

The glossy, somewhat heart-shaped, basal leaves form a rosette and they have serrated edges. Other reasons, beyond the distinctive flowers, to add this plant to your landscape or garden include being attractive to bees and butterflies, it is drought tolerant, and not tasty to deer. The blooms appear in mid-to-late summer and stay attractive as they age well into autumn. Alpine sea holly is also a wonderful long lasting cut flower that dries well. Alpine sea holly mixes well in the garden with peonies and grasses, especially blue oat grass. This can be an annual, biennial or perennial depending on the climate or growing condition.

How To Make Your Alpine Sea Holly Thrive

Alpine sea holly grows best in well-drained and sandy soil with full sun. Once established it is very drought tolerant. This tough perennial in the Pacific Northwest is relatively long lived, but does resent being disturbed; it is difficult to transplant due to its long tap root. Make sure it does not get crowded by its neighbors. You will want to remove the flower stems when they are no longer attractive and cut back the foliage once it has yellowed in fall.

General Alpine Sea Holly Information

Pests and Diseases

Alpine sea holly is susceptible to leaf and bud eelworms; it may be affected by powdery mildews, and root rot.


Propagate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame as soon as seed is ripe.


You can cut back flower stems after the plant flowers.

Garden & Landscape Uses

Alpine sea holly is a great choice for coastal gardens, cottage or informal gardens, flower borders and beds, gravel gardens, or Wildlife gardens. It makes a great cut flower for arrangements.

Quick Facts

  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Foliage Type: Semi-evergreen
  • Plant Height: 2 feet
  • Plant Width: 1 feet
  • Time to Ultimate Height: 2 to 5 years
  • Flower Color: Blue in summer and autumn
  • Foliage Color: Dark green in spring, summer, and autumn
  • Stem: Blue in summer
  • Soil: Well drained, it grows in sand, loam, and chalk
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 4 to 8
  • Light Exposure: Full sun
  • Water Requirements: Drought tolerant when established
  • Habit: Clump forming

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