I would consider Echinacea to be one of my all-time favourite plants, we all love a daisy. There is something about the shape of the flower and Echinacea is more prominent and blousy than most other daisies flowering at that time of year. The species Echinacea purpurea has been in cultivation a long time however due to its growing popularity a whole range of new varieties has appeared, with breeders here, in Holland and in the United States churning out new varieties almost every year.
Echinacea purpurea is a member of the daisy family (Compositae) or Asteraceae. The generic name comes from the Greek word for hedgehog (echinos) inspired by the spiky projections in the centre of its flower head in the seed stage. “Purpurea” refers to the purple colour of the flowers. As we are all probably aware there is also the well-known benefit of using Echinacea as a herbal preventative for warding off winter colds. Native Americans originally used Echinacea for its medicinal properties and European research continues today on the effectiveness of Echinacea containing products.
Echinacea’s seem to have everything going for them. However, there is a “but”, ask any group of gardeners to name a perennial that seems less than perennial and Echinacea’s are nearly always there in the first five or so suspects. “Here one year, gone the next” is often the verdict. However its beauty and versatility in the border keep us growing and buying more. To keep them happy Echinacea’s need full sun and fertile and well-drained soil. Avoid damp spots and heavy mulching over crowns in winter and most of all once planted, they are best left alone, do not attempt to move them to another spot. Having said all that they are still worth every effort to establish them in the garden.
Some of my favourite planting combinations include planting Echinacea in front of a purple leaved shrub like Sambucus Black Lace. They look great in a cottagey style border where they help to fill the lull in colour before the second flush of flower from Roses. In my opinion Echinacea really sing when they are mixed in a naturalistic planting scheme amongst ornamental grasses. Plant in front of a clump of Miscanthus Morning Light, Penisetum Tall Tails or Panicum Warrior and you will be rewarded with a simple yet very effective planting combination that feels and looks just right! buy motilium tablets