Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The echinaceas or coneflowers are often used as cut flowers. These are a great choice for cutting gardens as they provide lots of stems for cutting throughout the summer months. Here are some recommended newer varieties, most of which are scheduled for release in 2011.
This variety of the purple coneflower is nearly 3½ feet in height. Hardy to zone three or four, this is an improved form of the original Magnus. This has deep pinkish-lavender blooms. The centers are orangish-copper. The plants begin flowering in mid-summer, and continue into the fall. This was released in time for the 25th anniversary of the original Magnus.
Bred by Arie Blom, this wonderful plant has delightful double, pompom-type blooms. These are scented. Hardy to zone four or five, this has petals that are the color of orange or tangerine marmalade. Opening on tall stems, these make especially good cut flowers. The plants are over 2½ feet tall. The flowers begin opening in mid-summer, continuing through the summer. The flower color can vary slightly over time, being either orange or tangerine. The stems have a long vase life. The plants are over 2½ feet in height.
Tangerine Dream Echinacea
Hardy to zone four, this is 2½ feet in height. These are well branched plants with sturdy, strong stems. As the flowers age, the petals become slightly reflexed. These blooms are a lovely shade of pure orange. The centers are deep brown or orange-brown. With a wonderful fragrance, these magnificent blooms are four inches across. They begin opening in mid-summer, and keep going until early fall. The stems have a very good vase life.
Secret Romance Echinacea
Hardy to zone four, these have lovely shell pink pompom-type blooms that are around three inches across. Fully double, these are quite large. The outer petals are reflexed. It usually reaches about two to 2½ feet in height. The branching plants are very full. It is reportedly hardy to zone four or five.
All of the echinaceas or purple coneflowers are used as large mass flowers. They can be used whenever a daisy-like bloom is needed. In addition, the stems are very easy to air dry.