Survival of the Echinacea Hybrids
November 5, 2009
Allan in Echinacea hybrids, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea winter survival, Perennial Plants

Don't get too attached to Echinacea "After Midnight". This hybrid might not survive the winter.

The species Echinacea purpurea is ubiquitous in many parts of North America. It is so hardy that it can be found in cold Northern Ontario. Once it is planted in the garden, it makes itself at home forever. It is a reliable plant because it will thrive in spite of neglect. It naturalizes so easily that some gardeners think it’s a pretty weed worth keeping.

The Echinacea hybrids, on the other hand, are a totally different story. Most of them are not hardy in their first season. They require hardening and pampering. Once they become established they will perform as promised but, unlike the mother species E. purpurea, they have a life span of only 8 years. The one positive characteristic attributable to this collection of cultivars is the magnificent array of colors that have been bred into them.

Some gardeners have become frustrated by the finicky performance of these bred perennials. To avoid disappointment, they have begun to treat the hybrids as annuals. Growers understand that a dismal track record will hurt sales of these cultivars so they now educate nursery owners on proper care to ensure longevity. While not all of the advice is pertinent to the private gardener, here is what you need to know:-

A deeply embedded tap root is the key to success in growing Echinacea hybrids. A new plant will require an entire season growing in well-drained soil to reach that goal. If meeting that condition is not a realistic expectation, purchase the desired hybrid in the largest-sized pot offered [in order to ensure flowering] and then treat the hybrid as an annual.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/).
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