Allen D. Owings, Claesgens, Mark A. | 7/27/2007 8:56:27 PM
Louisiana gardeners may be enjoying a second bloom of purple coneflowers this time of year. The perennial plant is one of the most popular in home landscapes.
Purple coneflowers are drought-tolerant, tough and long-lived, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
Flowering usually starts in late April or early May, but you can get good re-bloom on most coneflowers through the summer and fall months, Owings said.
The scientific name of this plant is Echinacea purpurea. It is native to a geographic area from the Midwest into the southeastern United States.
Flower petals in coneflowers have typically been in the soft lavender to purple color ranges. Now, white forms are available. Magnus is a popular variety that was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1998. This selection has vibrant, rose-purple flowers. Bravado is a variety with 4- to 5-inch fragrant flowers. White Swan is a white-flowering form.
With hybridization of coneflower species, a whole new group of coneflowers, called the Big Sky series, has added to the color range. Big Sky coneflowers come in shades of oranges, reds and yellows. These plants originated from Itsaul Plants in Georgia and are being marketed by the Novalis "Plants that Work" program.
The varieties Twilight (rose-red flowers), Harvest Moon (earthy gold flowers), Sundown (russet orange flowers), Sunrise (citron yellow flowers) and Sunset (orange flowers) comprise the series collection. These varieties have been available at garden centers in Louisiana this year.
Coneflowers prefer a mostly sunny location with well-drained soil, Owings said, noting that they are available garden centers in 4-inch pots, quarts or gallon containers.
The horticulturist recommends a light application of a slow-release fertilizer at planting and once or twice annually thereafter. Mulch them with pine straw or a similar material. Remove old flowers to encourage faster re-bloom.
Use them in a perennial planting with buddleia, rudbeckias, salvia, coreopsis, lantanas, shasta daisies, verbenas or other hardy favorites. Butterflies love purple coneflowers also.
Looking for a plant to enhance your landscape? "The new coneflower selections in this old garden plant are making it a highly desired plant for our Louisiana landscapes," Owings said.
For related gardening and landscape information, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Also, contact the county agent in your local parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: www.louisianalawnandgarden.org
Contact: Allen D. Owings (225) 578-2417 or email@example.com
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org