I love Echinacea’s! These fabulous daisy-like perennials certainly earn their place in any garden planting plan I design, and they are one of my favourite plants.
These hardy perennials, sometimes referred to as Coneflowers, come in a wide range of colours and different petal form. They grow to about 50 cms tall on stiff upright stems, and flower from June to September/October time, making them the perfect choice for the wildlife friendly garden, as they are also loved by butterflies and bees.
Echinacea like to be in full sun or partial shade and are happy in most soil types, but do not like wet boggy conditions. Interestingly, the yellow and orange coloured varieties need better drainage than the pink and white varieties.
Deadhead flowers regularly to encourage fresh growth, but towards the end of the season leave some of the flower heads in place to create winter interest for your borders and seed for the birds.
Individual plants have a central ‘disc’ made up of 200 to 300 tiny bristles called florets, each with a pot of nectar at its base, and these combined with the wide-open flower shape, make the perfect landing spot for butterflies and bees to collect their nectar.
Echinacea look great when used in a mixed border but are perhaps most associated with prairie style planting schemes. Prairie planting is when large numbers of plants are planted in drifts and combine ornamental grasses and other perennial plants like sedums, Monarda, Rudbeckia and Aster.
If you have not already visited Hauser and Wirth at Bruton, then it is well worth a visit to see prairie style planting at its best by the Dutch Garden Designer Piet Oudolf, and mid to late summer is the perfect time to go.
A few of my favourite varieties to look out for are the pink-coloured ‘Magnus’ with its near horizontal flower head and the delicate pale pink reflexed petals of ‘Pallida’, mostly associated with those prairie planting schemes.
If you favour hot colours for your garden borders, why not consider the orange/pink of ‘Sundown’ or perhaps ‘Tiki Torch’. Or maybe you favour a stylish green and white planting scheme? If that is the case then Green Jewel, White Swan or Virgin will look perfect adding a touch of glamour to your borders.
Until next time