Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ – not boring, not pink

Jun 24, 2017 | Love This!

Imagine:  Garden Designer’s Diary, June 23

The client said she wanted unusual plants in her garden. “I’d like pods, and grasses and quirky things I can pick and put in bottles on the table,” she told me. “I don’t want flowers that are pink, boring or things that look like a daisy.”

So I planted oriental poppies so that she could cut the pods once the outrageous orange flowers were gone. I put in fountain grass and the native butterfly weed. (It has orange flowers and distinctive seedpods…two for one!) And of course, the client got Eryngium ‘Big Blue.’ Nothing boring, nothing pink.

Here's how the big blue sea holly looks as the color is developing. First the flowers look silver, then they transform to blue.

Here’s how the big blue sea holly looks as the color is developing. First the flowers look silver, then they transform to blue.

Name: Eryngium zabelii ‘Big Blue’ aka big blue sea holly.

Type of Plant: A perennial in Zones 5-9, that grows to 3’ high in full sun. It flowers in early to mid-summer and is a great cutting flower.

Why I love this: Some plants just look spray painted, and this is one of them. The flowers and even flower stems are electric blue! This Blooms of Bressingham (aka Rozanne and Friends) perennial has been a favorite of mine ever since they sent me a test plant several years ago. Every year the clump grows larger and every year I love it even more. I’ve used it in bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, and table arrangements. I love how the blue color looks with yellow Coreopsis that bloom at the same time.

A Word to the Wise: The thistle-like flowers are sharp so site this accordingly. It’s not the plant to place where you’re constantly reaching into the garden. Also, although the flowers dry well they do not keep their blue color for long when dried. So plan on really spray painting these as they fade if you want to keep the blue.

Here’s a boutonniere made with an Eryngium flower…and some other quirky stuff.

Big Blue looks great in the garden as well. It’s well suited for contemporary landscapes or cottage-style flower gardens.

Big Blue looks beautiful in all sorts of bouquets.


  1. Jan Bevan

    Thank you for this. I was upset that my Big Blue wasn’t blue, even though it’s 18″ high and covered in blooms soon to arrive. But I’ll be patient now you’ve told me it will go silver then blue.

    • CL Fornari

      Jan – the color is also most intense in full sun.


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