Color Coded coneflowers dazzle in performance
EDITOR'S NOTE: Norman Winter, The Garden Guy, recently retired as director of the University of Georgia’s Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, in Savannah.
The Price is White looks to be one of the hottest new coneflowers making its debut in the spring, and you need to line out your sources now, for not only it but the entire Color Coded series.
The size of coneflower blossoms is not something we tout as horticulturists, but with The Price is White, I have to say they are the largest echinacea flowers I have ever grown. Pristine white blossoms that don't mature to ugly makes The Price is White a real winner.
The Color Coded series is a group of four at this point with all sporting varietal names that cause you to take notice when you see them in the marketplace. Orange You Awesome, and Yellow My Darling made their debut in garden centers this year and have been nothing short of dazzling to this point. In addition to The Price is White, there will be a new red next spring called Frankly Scarlet, which is slightly taller than the three others and is a pollinator champion.
At The Garden Guy's house 2020 was amazing with the Color Coded coneflowers. Blooms started in April on my 2-year-old plants and were stunning with the quantity of blooms produced. Imagine however, enjoying coneflower blooms in April, May, June and July. I decided to experiment this year by leaving a lot of seed heads going into August. I was ecstatic to have American Goldfinches come in to eat the seeds on these as well as the other varieties I was trialing. But the story doesn't end as they sent up new blooms in October.
If you are thinking the echinacea was purple to hot pink, well it is, but something awesome has happened in the world of purple coneflowers, and that is science. It is a wonderful complicated science when it comes to breeding. There were crosses, back crosses, three-way crosses and more. The result is our native coneflower species have simply gotten better, we have more colors, flowers and habits — and you simply have to include some in your garden.
I have seen a lot of gardeners saying the new colors and hybrids just don't perform like the old-fashioned natives. The Garden Guy loves native flowers of just about everything, especially when it comes to pollinators. I am thrilled however with the performance and pollinator attraction in Proven Winners new Color Coded group of coneflowers.
Early spring is still my favorite time to plant purple coneflowers. Select healthy growing transplants not yet in flower. These are the ones that are still producing roots, have green leaves and will get happy in your garden. But to be honest, the industry has changed, offering us healthy vibrant transplants in all stages and all seasons, and I have had great success with these, too.
Whenever you decide to plant, choose a site in full sun for best flower performance. The soil need not be luxuriantly fertile. Space your Color Coded echinacea plants 16 to 20 inches apart in an informal drift or sweep. Your partnership opportunities with these new coneflowers is unlimited. I'm growing them with Blue Boa agastache, Rockin Blue Suede Shoes salvia, Pugster Amethyst buddleia and even partnered Orange You Awesome with ColorBlaze Lime Time for a wild, in-your-dreams combo.
Purple coneflowers still come in purple, and they will always be recommended. Keep your eyes open, however, next spring for Proven Winners new Color Coded series featuring Orange You Awesome, Yellow My Darling, The Price is White and Frankly Scarlet. They will all pack beauty, fun and pollinators into the garden.
(Norman Winter is a horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)