June 26, 2009

Echinacea Sundown, Ya Better Take Care

The colorful coneflowers lure us in with their beauty. In the past few years, there have been so many new (and patented) coneflowers appearing in the garden shops.

Two years ago, I planted several of the new designer colors. Echinacea 'Sundown' from the Big Sky™ Series was the only one with a 100 percent survival rate. Last year, there was a problem with gray mold, so I was glad to see all of the plants returned this spring.

I pay close attention to the care of these survivors to make sure there are no problems. This year's display is quite impressive as the clumps have had time to mature. As with my other coneflowers, this one is also quite photogenic!

The orange of 'Sundown' has been an easy color to use in my butterfly garden. The two mass plantings are squeezed between the yellow blooms of a hypericum (St. John's Wort), the green and white foliage of miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan', the blue-purple blooms of a vitex, the orange-red blooms of crocosmia and the pink-orange blooms of agastache 'Salmon & Pink'.

I've not had a problem with rabbits trying to nibble these at all, but I think it is only because they prefer to nibble the nearby rudbeckia! Deer haven't bothered any of my coneflowers this year, but there is always the possibility that they will sample the first buds.

If you are interested in growing this coneflower, it is rated for zones 4-9 and needs well-drained soil and full sun. The bees, butterflies and birds love coneflowers, no matter which color you grow.

I deadhead my coneflowers through the summer for repeat blooms, but the final flowers are left on the stems in the fall to provide seed for the Goldfinches.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Home Garden; June 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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