Garden Clippings for July 30, 2017
The wonderful advantage that perennials have over annuals is they only need to be planted once, and will come back year after year. The not so wonderful thing about perennials is their flowering time. Some perennials, particularly those flowering in early spring, will flower for only a week or two.
Summer flowering perennials have a habit of flowering much longer than their spring flowering counterparts. Summer Phlox, Shasta Daisy, Yarrow, Rudbeckia and Russian Sage will strut their stuff for well over a month.
Echinacea, often going by the common name of Purple Coneflower, breaks the bloom charts by flowering all summer long. In our backyard the Echinacea began showing colour just after Canada Day and I expect it will continue to bloom until Labour Day. The Echinacea, along with the summer Phlox dominates the mixed garden behind our water feature.
Echinacea is a comfortably casual plant with a carefree growth habit. We planted 7 or 8 in the garden a decade or so ago, and they quickly became a dense cluster of attention grabbing purple blooms.
Echinacea earned its common name of Coneflower because of its cone shaped bubble at the centre of each flower. Flower petals have an interesting habit of flowing downward, giving its central cone more dominance.
Plant Echinacea in a well-drained sunny location and it will thrive. Be patient, because Echinacea needs a year or so to establish its roots before putting on a performance.
Echinacea does not have fussy soil requirements. Once established it will require no more water than what comes from above. Echinacea’s roots go down deep where there is ample moisture.
Frugal gardeners will start Echinacea by starting seeds indoors early in spring and planting outdoors once the seedlings are 2 or 3 inches high. Alternatively, take a shortcut and buy potted plants. Once your Echinacea is established, it is easy to split the root clump and share with others.
In the world of herbal medicine and holistic health care, Echinacea is the single common perennial with the most positive attributes. It is noted for its ability to combat the common cold along with a host of other ailments including urinary tract infections, migraines and skin bites.
As with so many perennials there are several varieties of Echinacea available, making them suited for so many purposes. Echinacea ‘purpurea’ is tall growing at nearly 5 feet, with bold purple blooms ideal for cut flowers. ‘Magnus’ grows to about half the height with magnificent large blooms. ‘White swan’ has pure white petals with an orange central cone. “Lemon Drop’ has a compact shape with bright yellow blooms. A new series, ‘Pow Wow,’ available in both white and purple, forms a mid sized mound with bold colour.