Viper's bugloss or echium as it is known botanically, is a genus of biennial flowering herb or grass in the borage family. It is considered an invasive weed species in many areas as it readily naturalizes in open undisturbed areas such as pastures and road shoulders. Though a pest species to some, the viper's bugloss blooms and speckled foliage are attractive. It can aid in holding soil in place and play a role in the food chain.
Cut back any damaged, diseased or dying foliage in the late fall and cut down any spent bloom stalks to tidy the plant before winter comes. Leaving dying foliage on the plant over winter can invite disease so it's best to clean up the plant and remove any dead foliage from the soil beneath the bugloss as well.
Shear down all of the top foliage in the late fall in climates where viper's bugloss does not overwinter. Wait until the first hard frost and the foliage is dying back, which will allow some of the plant nutrients to flow back into the taproot. Cut off the top foliage to just an inch or two above the crown.
Water your viper's bugloss deeply in the fall several time before the first hard frost. This will help prepare the plant, roots and surrounding soil for winter drought conditions and help to reduce stress on the plant.
Mulch around the plant or over the cut down crown of the plant with at least 2 inches of organic mulch material such as compost, shredded bark or cocoa bean hulls. Mulch will hold moisture to the soil and protect the plant from winter cold and drought conditions. It will also keep competitive weeds at bay reducing the need for hand weeding and present a tidy appearance.