Thursday, June 10, 2010


Recently I attended a native plant conference at Millersville, Pennsylvania. It was well organized and we heard some wonderful speakers. Had a whole session on goldenrods - fascinating! If native plants are on your radar screen, it's a great place to learn more.

One session was about echinaceas. My distillation of the commentary is included here. I have been reluctant to buy echinaceas after three sequentially purchased Mango Meadowbrites died over three sequential winters at my home. It is the most exquisite coneflower I ever saw. So I gave up - figured the breeders were slap-happy and had bred out the hardiness gene. Each year new varieties - many of us stopped buying them altogether.

What I learned from well-known horticulturist Angela Treadwell-Palmer of Plants Nouveau is that you have to plant echinaceas early in the season so they are well established going into winter. Well at my home, all potted plants got planted in soil in late October before a killing frost. That may be my big mistake. I will try Mango Meadowbrite again, and a few others that are on the good list.

Here are the ones to look for:

Fragrant Angel - white 3-3.5'
Kim's Knee High - bright pink, variable height, supposed to be dwarf so don't be surprised
Mango Meadowbrite - - plant in gravel for good drainage
Pica Bella - pink, strong, short
Twilight - orange pink - good performer
Avalanche - white with lots of yellow in cone
Coconut Lime - greenish, fuzzy top
Tomato Soup - red, not fragrant, mid-size
Mac n Cheese - nice
Milkshake - white fuzzy top
Hot Papaya - 36", great color, more upright

Don't bother with
Magnus - which is now not coming true
tennesseensis - needs total dry, faces east, endangered
pallida – grows in rock crevices
White Swan
Pixie - has tennesseensis parentage - draws leaf hoppers
Sunrise - winters well in pots, may become new parent material for new generation
Pink Poodle
Pink Double Delight - bees don't like it and won't pollinate but being used to breed new varieties
Coral Reef
Marmalade has good goldenrod color to start then fades to very pale on second day
Firebird - not selected in first round by breeders
Flame Thrower- not selected in first round
Hot Lava - not selected in first round
Now Cheesier - just like Mac n Cheese

Too new to know:
Secret series: Passion, Romance - new series of dwarfs
Strawberry Shortcake - bicolor
Pineapple Sundae won't propagate in tissue culture
Jade - white/green - may be nice
Green Envy - pink halo around center - striped, novel
Raspberry Truffle - good stem and intense color - 3.5' tall in Netherlands, 2' tall here'

Hoping that this listing will help you chose good plants. They are amazingly costly for perennials; careful selection and early planting will make beautiful echinaceas a good choice for your garden.

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