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Plant of the Month: Echinacea

Hot Papaya, Milkshake, & Tiki Torch

New Echinacea cultivars

Latin name: Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’, ‘Meringue’ and ‘Tiki Torch’
Common name: Coneflower
Flowers: See below
Foliage: Coarse-textured, green
Mature height: See below
Hardiness: Zones 5 to 9
Soil: Well-drained
Exposure: Full sun 
Water usage: Low
Sources: Local nurseries or mail order

I planned to write a short article on my one favorite new variety of Echinacea, but there was a problem: I couldn’t make up my mind! There is so much new breeding going on in this genus that every week or two a new one shows up on my doorstep to add to our trial program. I currently have more than 40 cultivars in the trials, and the list just keeps growing. So I thought I’d just give you my current “top three” varieties, and next year I’ll do a whole article on them for Neil’s magazine.

Echinacea ‘Tiki Torch’
This cultivar is the darkest orange coneflower I’ve tested yet. Large 4-inch flowers hold their color for weeks. Surprisingly spicy scented flowers make excellent cut flowers, too. Plants will eventually reach 36 inches tall by 24 inches wide.

Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’
This is the first-ever double-orange coneflower. The interesting “shuttlecock” shape of the flowers just adds to their appeal. Flowers emerge papaya orange and mature to a deep orange-red. To date, this is one of the longest flowering varieties that I have tested. This variety produces multiple flowers per stem and makes an excellent cut flower. Eventual height is 36 inches tall. 

Echinacea ‘Meringue’
From the same breeder as ‘Hot Papaya’, this is a new, pure white, double variety. This variety begins as a flat daisy with greenish white petals in the center that mature to a fluffy white cone forming a pompom. This variety is very compact at 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide, and is very floriferous.  Each plant sends up multiple stems with several flowers per stem.