by Jennifer Poindexter
Did you know that some people grow thistles intentionally? One thistle that gardeners like to add to their growing space is blessed thistle.
You might be wondering why anyone would intentionally grow thistles. Many believe that they have medicinal properties.
Some grow blessed thistle because it can be used to make herbal teas and the greens of the plant are edible.
If you’d like to dine on something a little different, consider adding blessed thistle to your garden. Here’s what you should know to grow this plant:
Growing Conditions for Blessed Thistle
Blessed thistle is an herb that’s typically grown as an annual. This herb goes by many names from blessed thistle to holy thistle, and its scientific name is cnicus.
Don’t confuse blessed thistle with milk thistle. They serve different purposes. Sometimes, you’ll hear the term “blessed milk thistle.” This isn’t referencing blessed thistle. Check the scientific names when in doubt to ensure you’re receiving information for the correct plant.
Blessed thistle is hardy in planting zones five through nine. In these areas, if you allow the plants to flower, they’ll cast seed. The seeds will overwinter and reappear the following year. We’ll talk more about this plant’s invasive habits in the next portion of the article.
When growing blessed thistle, you may do so in containers or by creating a bed for them. Ensure you have enough space for the plant as it can reach heights of two feet.
Pick a growing location that receives full sunlight. This equates to the plants being in direct sunlight for a minimum of six hours each day.
The plant should also grow in well-draining soil. If you’re growing blessed thistle in a container, ensure it drains properly as well.
As far as soil type, blessed thistle isn’t particular. It can grow in poor quality or even rocky soil.
You can see that blessed thistle is an easy plant to grow. Though it has a few specifications, they aren’t hard to meet.
How to Plant Blessed Thistle
Once you have a growing location selected with the ideal growing conditions, it’s time to discuss how to grow blessed thistle.
Before we jump into how to grow this plant, it’s vital that you check with local authorities to ensure you’re permitted to grow blessed thistle in your area.
In some places, this plant can become invasive as it spreads easily anytime the plant flowers. Take this into consideration before planting this herb.
Once you know you may grow this flower, you have a few options. You may either directly sow the seeds into their growing location or start the seeds indoors.
Blessed thistle shouldn’t be grown outdoors until the final frost has passed and the temperatures are at or above 70-degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the ground where you intend to plant the seeds and place them about a ½ inch beneath the soil. Ensure you leave one to two feet of space between each seed. Lightly cover and water the seeds carefully.
The soil should be damp without being oversaturated as this can lead to your seeds rotting. It should take approximately two to three weeks for the seeds to sprout.
Our second method to growing blessed thistle is to start seeds indoors. If using this method, ensure you have seed starting pots as the seeds are too large to work in a growing tray.
Be sure to only place one seed per growing container. Fill the containers with well-draining soil and place the seeds a ½ inch beneath the surface.
Water your seeds with a spray bottle to ensure the soil is damp but not too wet. Place the seeds in an area with plenty of light and warmth.
They should sprout in two to three weeks. From there, continue to care for the new seedlings until they are large enough to start the hardening off process and move outdoors.
These are the two most effective methods to growing blessed thistle around your home or garden. The length of your growing season may determine which method you use.
Caring for Blessed Thistle
When growing blessed thistle, there isn’t much you must do. The main thing it needs from you is water.
However, you should ensure you keep the water around the plant balanced. If you oversaturate things, it could lead to root or crown rot.
Yet, if you practice the deep watering method, you should feel confident that you aren’t over or under watering the plant.
When deep watering blessed thistle, be sure to water the plant for a longer period of time, fewer days of the week.
The water should reach the roots during the watering session and also saturate the ground surrounding the plant.
As the days progress, and the plant needs more water, it will dig deeper to access the water around it. This encourages a strong root system and a healthier plant.
I typically recommend you test the soil, prior to watering your plant again, when using the deep watering method.
In this case, I’d recommend testing the soil around the plant but be sure you don’t actually stick your finger into the area where the plant is growing.
I caution you with this because blessed thistle is prickly. Find a safe location to insert your finger to test the moisture in the soil.
If the soil is dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water again. If not, hold off for a few days before repeating the testing process.
Watering blessed thistle correctly is the only thing it needs from you. If you need a low-maintenance plant that’s useful for culinary purposes, blessed thistle could be for you.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact Blessed Thistle
If you’ve ever had an issue with thistles popping up in your garden, you know there isn’t much that can or will harm them.
The same is true for blessed thistle. There isn’t anything worth noting as far as pests and diseases. You might find aphids munching on these plants from time to time.
However, you can treat your thistles with either an insecticide or spray them forcefully with soapy water to dislodge the aphids.
As mentioned earlier, if you apply too much water to blessed thistle or grow it in a location without well-draining soil, the roots or crown of the plant could rot.
This is avoided by ensuring the plant is never left in standing water.
In general, you shouldn’t face issues with pests or diseases when growing this plant. Now that you know that most of nature leaves blessed thistle alone, let’s discuss how to harvest the herb.
Harvesting Blessed Thistle
The last thing we should discuss about blessed thistle is how to harvest the plant. Before we jump into harvesting, it’s vital to mention that this herb can be an allergy for some people.
When blessed thistle has large enough foliage to harvest, remove 1/3 of the plant at a time. You should harvest prior to the plant flowering as this is how reseeding occurs.
Harvesting will control the spread of the thistle as well as give you what you need from the plant. You should be able to harvest each plant two or three times each season.
The herb will flower until the first hard frost. Your time to harvest will end then as well. As mentioned earlier, the plant’s foliage is edible. You may enjoy them raw, cooked, or dried for making herbal teas.
You now know what you must do to grow blessed thistle around your home or garden. Be mindful that you harvest the herb in a timely manner.
Otherwise, it can reseed and spread easily. If grown responsibly, blessed thistle could be a useful herb to have around your garden.