I have been under the weather lately, and one of the only things that seems to quiet my cough is echinacea. It got me to thinking about how much I love these coneflowers!
I have always appreciated the plant for its rugged durability, able to withstand hot dry summers but hardy enough to survive the coldest winters.
A native American plant indigenous to the central plains, Echinacea purpurea is virtually indestructible. We enjoy the color it brings to the summer garden with its large daisy-like, rosy purple petals surrounding a copper-colored, dome-shaped central seed head. There is also a yellow one called Echinacea paradoxa because of it unusual color.
Plant breeders have been busy and now we have more colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from. Here are seven varieties we have planted over the years with success:
- ‘Sunrise’ has pale yellow flowers with central cones that start out green and change to gold. Bright and showy the flowers are 5 ” across and very fragrant. The plants are 30-36 inches tall.
- ‘Harvest moon’ is a cross of E.purpurea and paradoxa that has golden yellow flowers with orange cones. It is a heavy branching plant that bears 4” wide flowers.
- ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is a mix of colors that can be easily grown from seed. They grow from 18-30” tall.
- ‘Green Envy’ has fat jade green petals with magenta veins. The center cones start out green and mature to a purple-brown. It grows to be 30-36 inches tall.
- ‘Razzmatazz’ is considered to be the first double-flowering echinacea. Instead of a central cone, each flower has a dome covered with short petals surrounded by a skirt of longer, reflexed petals. It is a bright pink and grows 32-26 inches tall.
- ‘Doubledecker’ looks like it is wearing a hat. Imagine a purple coneflower that has a second set of smaller petals growing from the top of the cone. Plants get to be about 40 inches tall.
- ‘Kim’s Knee High’ is a compact growing coneflower bearing rosy-pink flowers on an 18 inch tall plant.
All these hybrids need the same care as regular coneflowers. They prefer full sun or morning sun and afternoon shade. Deep rich well-drained soil is optimum but they will thrive in average soil. The flowers are great for cutting, lasting a week or more in a bouquet.
There are many many more to choose from so when plant shopping this spring take a second look at coneflowers and add something new to your summer landscape.