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Echinacea (Cone Flower)

A fantastic sunny garden plant, the Echinacea is long-lived and often seen in summer gardens to attract butterflies or for use as a cut flower. Native to the central United States, this beautiful plant has had so many lovely forms and cultivars developed recently that its popularity extends far beyond native landscaping alone now.

Plant Highlight: Echinacea (Coneflower) Botanical and Common Name: Echinacea is often called Purple Coneflower. The prominent cone-shaped center of each daisy-like flower gave the plant its common name. Many gardeners now drop the "purple" and refer to the flowers simply as Coneflowers because the colors available now are varied. Hardiness Zones: Echinacea is very hardy and versatile growing well in zones 3-8. Some varieties specified below do well even in the humid summers of zones 9 and 10. Bloom Time & Color: Echinacea blooms all summer and flowers are traditionally purple. See specific varieties below for information about new cultivars with different colors. Plant Category: Coneflowers are herbaceous perennials. Foliage: Echinacea has dark-green, coarsely toothed leaves that are attractive. Growth Habit: Echinacea are traditionally multi-stemmed plants with bushy, upright growth and large flower stalks that lift the coneflowers well above the plant base. More compact forms of Echinacea are specified below. Dimensions: Most plants in the Echinacea family grow about 2-4' tall and about 2' wide. Specific varieties that deviate from these dimensions will be noted below. Preferred Conditions: Coneflowers prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade conditions. It does well in average or poor soil and Echinacea has a thick tap-root that grows deep to allow for water conservation once established. Maintenance: Sometimes staking is needed to keep the tall Echinacea flower stalks from breaking in windy areas. Deadheading coneflowers through the summer will keep blooms coming for weeks on end. Self-sown seedlings may appear but not in uncontrollable numbers. Leaving the seed heads at the end of the season provides seeds that are highly attractive to native songbirds such as goldfinches. Pests or Diseases: No serious pests or diseases impact the Echinacea. Propagation Methods: Coneflowers can be grown from seeds sown outdoors or purchased as started plants. Not all Echinacea hybrids grow true from seed so many of the newer cultivars should be purchased as live plants. Companion Plants: Echinacea works well in the mixed border blending easily with other plants. Consider fine-foliaged perennials such as a Coreopsis, yarrow and ornamental grasses. Seasons of Interest: Spring foliage is dark green and attractive. Echinacea blooms all summer long and into the beginning of fall as well. Some gardeners choose to leave the coneflower seed heads on the plant at the end of the season to provide winter interest and food for native songbirds. Uses in the Garden: Coneflowers make excellent cut flowers and do well in butterfly gardens, prairie or native gardens, water wise xeroscapes, and full sun gardens. Other Uses: Echinacea extract has long been used for medicinal purposes and is extracted from the black tap-root as an herbal remedy. Varieties & Cultivars: There are several cultivars available now but here is a list of the best available. Some of these are brand new and may be difficult to find but are well worth the search. Echinacea Big Sky Series™ The following two cultivars are part of the Big Sky series developed in Itsaul Nurseries of GA. All in this series have a light rose-like fragrance to the blooms . E. Big Sky 'Sunset': This Echinacea is 24-30" tall and 18" wide and boasts bright orange petals - a new color for the Echinacea species. The central cone is brown tinted and blooms grow 3-4" wide.For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. Big Sky 'Sunrise': A multi-branched coneflower that is covered in lemon-yellow blooms with a green center cone that turns to orange as the flower matures. The flowers grow lighter yellow in the heat creating an interesting, multi-hued effect. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. hybrid 'Mango Meadowbrite': A mango orange-yellow coneflower with petals perfectly spaced around deeper yellow cones. 3" flowers grow on sturdy 2 foot stalks. A great new addition from Chicago Botanical Gardens. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. hybrid 'Pixie Meadowbrite': Another Echinacea from the Meadowbrite series by Chicago Botanical Garden, this coneflower is an amazingly compact plant that grows to only 18" tall and 20-24" wide. The Pixie coneflower is a fantastic selection if you want to put your Echinacea in a container or in the front of a border. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purpurea 'Doppelganger': An unusual Echinacea with eye-catching double flowers. The first season there may not be many flowers with the second layer, but the next year this plant will amaze you. This coneflower can be difficult to find. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'Harvest Moon': Large, fragrant flowers grace this prolific Echinacea which can have 30+ flowers in bloom at once. The coneflower blossoms are 4" wide with golden yellow petals that surround the orange center cone. Hardy zones 3b-9. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'Fragrant Angel': This Echinacea has beautiful white petals that are more horizontal than other cultivars like the 'White Swan' whose petals droop down more. The 'Fragrant Angel' coneflower has large, white disk-shaped flowers with gold centers and the blooms can grow 4-5" across. A stunning companion plant in any flower bed. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Here is a direct link to the Seedling Japanese Red Maple Trees. E. purp 'Razzmatazz': A new addition from Holland's Jan van Winsen, this is one of the most unusual coneflowers available. This Echinacea is the same beautiful purple color as the species, but grows large, double pom-pom flowers instead of the typical coneflower blooms. A must-see and a must-have Echinacea for your garden. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp 'Vintage Wine': These wine-red coneflowers have lighter pink tips on their petals. The 2' tall stalks carry prolific blooms from July through September for weeks of color. These coneflowers petals are carried more upright and do not droop down from the center cone, similar in form to the 'Fragrant Angel'. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp 'Green Eyes': Brightly colored Echinacea has rich magenta petals and a contrasting green center cone. A sturdy coneflower with long lasting, fragrant blooms. One of the most eye-catching blossoms with that color "pop". Combine with grey foliage plants like Artesmia or Lamb's Ear. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'Fancy Frills': One of the most outstanding of the new Echinacea's released in the past few years. This Echinacea has large flowers up to 5" across that are a true pink with semi and double petaled blooms. More strongly fragrant than most coneflowers, this has been said to be "a coneflower for those who don't like coneflowers". It may be difficult to find this Echinacea cultivar because of its increasing popularity. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'Pink Double Delight': Another double-flowered Echinacea like the 'Razzmatazz', this coneflower is consistently double of shorter, strong stems that support the heavy flower heads easily. Compact growth at 20" tall by 18" wide makes this a good choice of Echinacea for large containers. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'White Swan': Another white flowered Echinacea like 'Fragrant Angel', this cultivar has 4" wide flowers born on 2' tall stems. These white coneflowers have the classic drooping petals typical of Echinacea blooms. For more info on purchasing this item click here. E. purp. 'Magnus': This Echinacea was the 1998 Perennial of the Year for good reason! The large, pink-hued flowers are highly attractive to goldfinches and they make incredible additions to the mid-summer border. For more info on purchasing this item click here.
This 'Plant Highlight' was written exclusively for Sooner Plant Farm by Angela England .To read more from this talented writer about other highlighted plants and interesting gardening stories click here.
All copyrights reserved by Sooner Plant Farm. No reproduction of this article in whole or in part is allowed without the permission of Sooner Plant Farm.

 
 

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