Purple Thistle

Everything you ever wanted to know about purple thistle

Purple thistle is a member of the same family as daisies, although it’s a lot thornier than daisies, hence the name.  Purple thistle can have purple or yellow flowers, and thorns grow all along the stem of the plant.  The leaves are also very sharp and thorny.  Animals only need one contact with a purple thistle plant to know that it should be left alone.  The sharp leaves and stems are enough to deter anyone from touching them, however their beauty does make them a great addition to any backyard garden.  Just be sure to keep small children away from these flowers because the leaves and stems are so very sharp.  The purple thistle can also be very dangerous for small children because the leaves have a tendency to move toward a threat and curl around any stray fingers that decide to touch it.

The purple thistle usually grows to be a couple of feet tall, although they can be as short as one foot or as tall as three feet.  The flowers are very large, adding another foot of height to the plant after they bloom. 

When you decide to plant seeds, choose an area that has well-drained soil and is in full sun.  You will need soil that is anywhere from a 6.1 to 7.8 pH, which gives you a wide range to hit.  The purple thistle tolerates some drought, so it will handle being under-watered more than it will being overwatered.  Just keep an eye on the soil and give the plant some water if it looks dry.

Plant the seeds in your garden in the spring after the danger of frost is past.  The plant will bloom in midsummer, late summer, early fall, or even late fall.  You might want to stagger your seed planting to ensure you’ve got blooms all summer long.


Growing purple thistle in your garden is very easy.  You can start with seeds, which are usually available from your local garden center.  Purple thistle is very easy to grow because it can thrive in just about any kind of soil.  You don’t even have to fertilize this type of flower because it pretty much takes care of itself.  You’ll also love having purple thistle in your yard because it tends to attract butterflies.  There are many different types of butterflies that this type of flower will attract.  It also hosts the larvae for some varieties of butterflies.  Bees, beetles, and many other kinds of insects are also attracted to this type of flower, despite its tendency to curl around any insects that approach it.  This type of flower is also very helpful to have around if you have other plants that rely heavily on bees to pollinate them so they will reseed themselves. 

The only downside to this type of flower is how quickly and easily it spreads.  You will have to take measures to keep it from taking over your flower garden if you have several different species of plants there.