Echinacea, commonly called coneflower, is a perennial herb that is widely believed, although unsubstantiated, to help alleviate upper respiratory illnesses and to prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold. Its roots, leaves and flowers are used as an immune system booster. However, this article only focuses on the beauty of the flowers, and how no garden should be without at least a few varieties.
Want some drama in your landscape? Pow Wow Wildberry Echinacea is such an intense hot pink color that you'd swear it had its own internal lighting. The bright petals are notched at the outside edges, and the glowing pink is contrasted against the dark orange-burgundy cones at the center. The unusual Double Decker has pink petals flowing like a tutu below the cone, and then a spray of petals coming out of the top of the cone, as well! Another stunning pink variety is the Pink Poodle, which has yellow cones that increase in size to blend right into the petals, resembling a zinnia.
For a splash of yellow or orange, there are several varieties with vivid colors and varied petal and cone shapes. Flame Thrower is a stunning daisy-like flower with intense fiery yellow-orange color. Echinacea also comes in different shades of creamy white, lilac to deep purple (the most common color), and rich eye-catching reds. Can you guess what color Tomato Soup Echinacea is?
Secret Passion has a unique two-tone flower that combines a huge red pompom cone on top of a spray of pale pink petals. Most Echinacea has blooms with two or three contrasting colors, which make their blooms so distinctive.
Garden Harvest Supply has 24 varieties of Echinacea available in its 2011 collection of plants. And since Echinacea comes back each year, it's a great value, and a perfect plant for those seeking abundant color and low-maintenance flowerbeds.
Planting Echinacea couldn't be simpler. Garden Harvest Supply ships Echinacea plants in 3-inch pots, so they're well established and ready to plant in the ground as soon as the shipment arrives, based on your Hardiness Zone. Choose a spot with fertile, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. Don't overwater this herb. In most regions, this plant will bloom from mid-summer through late October.
Echinacea grows up to three feet tall, so plan accordingly when you incorporate it into a landscape feature or flower garden. Because the flowers grow on sturdy stems, this lush bloomer is a great choice for cutting and using alone in a bud vase or in flower arrangements.