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Coneflower or Echinacea - the best thing for your bed

There are few things more exciting for gardeners at this time of year than dreaming of new plants. I’ll focus on a few of the better plants in the next few weeks but let’s start with the best example of new breeding.

Our old North American native friend Echinacea or purple coneflower is really letting loose this coming spring. The work of several major plant-breeding houses is coming to the market and while the plants will be expensive, they are wonderful. The double flowering ‘Razzmatazz’ with its double pink flowers are quite hardy as well as gorgeous. It will be complemented by ‘Doppelganger’ a coneflower that puts one blossom right on top of the first, resembling an apartment of flowers rather than a single bloom. Note that this double-decker flower usually comes into its own in the second year. This one has caught the imagination of the nursery trade almost as much as ‘Sparkler’ a variegated leaf coneflower. The variegation in ‘Sparkler’ is flecked throughout the leaf while the variegation in the equally new ‘Prairie Frost’ is a broad band of cream around each leaf. I’m also looking forward to having ‘Fragrant Angel’ in my garden as its large white blooms are extremely fragrant. Add the ‘Rocky Top Hybrids’ to this list of coneflowers (mauve flowers and compact growth) and you have an entire menu of new Echinacea to find this coming summer. Two dwarf plants ‘Kim’s Mophead’ and ‘Kim’s Knee High’ will find themselves in my clay pots along with the ‘Rocky Top Hybrids’. Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sunrise’ has soft lemon-yellow blooms and is a knock out plant in my garden while its cousin ‘Big Sky Sunset’ has wide, very bright orange petals. These are both plants to watch for and pay the price. Hardy in my zone 4 garden. Plant all these in full sun in well-drained soils and you’ll enjoy them for years. They’re trouble free and easy to grow plants!

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