Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
One new group of echinaceas proved to be outstanding in 2010. These are the Pow Wow series. These make great cut flowers.
The Pow Wow series were chosen as best of the new varieties at the Stokes Seed Trial Farm in St. Catharines, Ontario and was also a visitors’ favorite. The Pow Wows were also a trial manager’s favorite—especially the Wild Berry—at Stokes. These are the most floriferous of all the seed-grown purple coneflowers.
The Pow Wow series plants are hardy to zone three or four. The compact plants are slightly over 1˝ feet in height with a spread of nearly two feet. These are the most freely flowering of all the seed-grown echinacea varieties.
At the point, the series includes Pow Wow White and Pow Wow Wild Berry. These were bred from the common native Echinacea purpurea.
These are quicker to bloom than most other echinaceas for they begin flowering the very first year. The plants are easy to grow, and require very little care. Being drought tolerant, they’re suitable for hot areas. As a group the echinaceas are among the top five most popular perennials.
Besides being named an All-America Selections winner, Wild Berry was selected as a best performer at the Pennsylvania State University gardens. The plant trials were held at the SE Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Manheim.
One of the reasons that the All-America Selections judged chose this plant was that the flowers are an unusual vivid, rose color. The centers are golden-brown to yellow. The Wild Berry blooms are beautiful at all stages of development. As they first open, the petals look very narrow and almost quilled. As time passes, these expand and look like other echinacea petals. Pow Wow White has pure white petals with yellow cones.
I especially liked the fact that these were so easy to grow from seeds. In the past when I’ve had to chill echinacea seeds to get them to germinate, but this was not the case with Pow Wow. They bloomed the very first year even though I didn’t plant them until April or so. Flowering begins about four to five months from the time the seeds are planted. For the earliest blooms, the seed package says to plant indoors or in a greenhouse by the end of January.
The seeds should be planted on top of the seed mix, and then covered with vermiculite. Keep the seed trays or pots at a minimum of 65 degrees F. for best germination. These should sprout in about two weeks. Keep the potting soil moist until the seedlings emerge. Then, al low the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.
The flowers are up to four inches wide. Wild Berry in particular has top quality flowers. This was a top performer and favorite at the Raker Trial Garden in Litchfield, Michigan in 2010. Pow Wow Wild Berry was a Flower Award winner of All-America Selections.
The blooms are non-fading. All the Pow Wow plants can be grown in containers. They provide more blooms per plant than any other echinacea. In the garden allow about one to 1˝ feet between Pow Wow plants.
The Wild Berry plants branched nicely from the base, and grew to about two feet in height. Very care free plants, these required no dead heading. They were free of diseases and pests.
Wild Berry refused to quit blooming in my yard even after we had several hard freezes and record cold fall temperatures.
The stems of all the Pow Wows make great cut flowers. The stems have a vase life of about a week. These are used as a large mass flower and can be used like any other daisy-like bloom. The stems can also be dried for use as an everlasting. Air drying works well.