Tried and True Coneflowers
By Kerry Ann Mendez
Coneflowers (Echinacea) continue to rise in popularity. There are nine species native to North America and the demand for the "next best coneflower" has resulted in a surge of new introductions annually. However, are these "debutantes" all they are marketed to be?
Mt. Cuba Center, a botanical garden dedicated to native plants and located in Hockessin, Delaware, recently finished a three year trial on coneflowers for the Mid-Atlantic region. This trial included many recent introductions. Their last coneflower trial was from 2007-2009. Although this trial is titled for the Mid-Atlantic region, I believe the research is beneficial to many outside this region, including here in Maine.
The trial evaluated plants for their beauty, vigor and sturdy upright habit, and attractiveness to pollinators. Of key interest was the difference between single and double flowers in their ability to attract pollinators. The double flowering cultivars were significantly unattractive to pollinators - only receiving 4% of the average pollinator visits.
Top Rated Varieties
Some of the top rated coneflowers in this trial were 'Pica Bella' (top rated in both the 2009 and 2020 trials, pictured at top), 'Kismet Raspberry', 'Ruby Star', 'Pow Wow White' and 'Sombrero Hot Coral'. We carry all of these at Estabrook's.
Click here for a summary of this eye-opening trial.
About the Author
KERRY ANN MENDEZ is an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant based in southern Maine. Her latest book is The Budget-Wise Gardener. You'll now find her at Estabrook's consulting on garden design, answering your gardening questions and much more. Plus, check out her Garden Webinar series for more tips and tricks.