Echinacea which are commonly known as coneflowers do indeed attract bees and butterflies to our gardens, but in my opinion are magnificent flowers which should be included in every perennial border. The fact that it is a North American native makes it all the more desirable since we are always being encouraged to grow native plants. This article by Jennifer Connell which I found on the Three Dogs In A Garden website has some useful tips as well as amazing photos.
There is a little bit of irony in the history of Echinacea. For one thing, it took Europeans to exploit the star potential of this North American native flower. The Germans began to make improvements on the species Echinacea purpurea in the 1960’s. The flower’s popularity continued to grow on through the 80’s and the 90’s. Then in 1989, Echinacea purpurea ‘Mangus’ was named Perennial Plant of the Year from the Perennial Plant Association and Echinacea became even more fashionable.Excitement about the plant’s potential really took off when a breeder in the Netherlands stumbled upon a double flowering seedling in his cut flowerbeds. That discovery eventually led to the introduction of the cultivar ‘Razzmatazz’ in 2003. ‘Razzmatazz’ was a huge success and led to further experiments leading to rather remarkable breakthroughs in enhancing the flower’s color, form and scent.Growing EchinaceaI wish I had more Echinacea in my garden. Perhaps because it blooms in summer, I tend to overlook it when making my spring purchases. Then July arrives and I find myself lamenting the oversight and making a last minute purchase. High summer is a tough time for a somewhat potbound nursery plant to get going in a large garden. The soil around the root ball dries out so quickly. You really have to make an effort to water regularly or the plant will have a hard time establishing itself properly before the fall. I’ve managed to lose more than a few plants this way. So my first tip would be not to make my mistake and plant Echinacea in the spring!Otherwise Echinacea are easy to grow. Give them full sun. I have tried them in part shade and I find they don’t do nearly as well. Like most perennials, they like well-drained soil. Too much moisture can cause root rot.