Add Lashings of Colour With New Varieties of These Easy Care Blooms That’ll Last all Summer Long
These impressive blooms might look high-maintenance, but they’re a doddle to grow! They’re bang on-trend for summer 2020, and we’re not surprised – their easy-going nature means they need minimal care and attention. The bright daisy heads are held on sturdy stems, so they don’t need staking for support, and they flower for months on end. Also known as coneflowers, thanks to the prominent cone at the centre, echinacea are enjoying a surge in popularity because of the stunning new varieties now available. Years ago, pinks, purples and whites were the only choices, but now you can rev-up hot borders with glowing blooms in a kaleidoscope of colours.
Our favourites include ‘Sombrero Hot Coral’, whose flowers open coral and then deepen to vermillion, ‘Summer Cocktail’, a sunny shade of orange-yellow that morphs to pink as they age, ‘Delicious Candy’, a mix of hot pink and orange-red, the flowers of ‘Green Twister’ open deep green then develop a flush of purple, and ‘Tomato Soup’ doesn’t need any description! There are blooms with winsome swept-back petals, berry-bright cones that look like they’re from outer space, ruffled centres and starburst skirts. Have a Google and you’ll find one that’ll add pizzazz to your plot in just the right style.
There’s a good choice of height in all these new varieties, too, so there’s a perfect candidate whether you’re looking for a bloom to brighten up the front, middle or back of your borders, or your pots. Bees and butterflies love them all, no matter the height or colour!
PICK HEALTHY PLANTS
Some varieties of echinacea are widely available from garden centres and DIY stores, others will have to be bought from online suppliers. Look for a plant with lots of deep green leaves, and reject any with yellowing or wilted leaves, or white coverings of powdery mildew disease. Check there are no pests on the undersides of the leaves, too.
Buying plants already in bloom lets you see the tones, which is important if you’re colour co-ordinating your displays.
KEEP THEM ALIVE
Give echinacea a sunny position and it’ll be happy in most types of soil. Before you plant it, dig in peat-free compost or Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner (£6.99/50L,waterperrygardens.co.uk). This will help the soil to stay moist in summer and well-drained in winter.
HELP THEM THRIVE
For masses of flowers all summer, feed your echinacea every time you water with a liquid plant food such as Phostrogen All Purpose Soluble Plant Food (£4.25/800g, homebase. co.uk) and cut back stems once the blooms fade. Make sure you water your plants regularly through hot, dry spells. In autumn or spring, chop off any old stems and leaves and spread a 5cm-thick layer of peat-free compost on the soil around them.
ENJOY FOR LONGER
Scabious blooms open from their outer petals inwards, so, if you want your cut flowers to last, snip flowers that have only unfurled this outside edge of colour.
PAINT A BOLD BACKDROP
The flowers of ‘Green Envy’ dazzle against a wall painted in a contrasting colour. Try Cuprinol Garden Shades in Sweet Sundae, £14/1L wickes.co.uk.
GO CONE CRAZY!
Pluck faded petals to make a display of cut blooms with a difference.
HELP CUT BLOOMS LAST
Echinacea produce so many flowers throughout summer, your garden won’t miss some for indoor arrangements. To make them last for up to three weeks, mix 1 tsp each of sugar and bleach and 2 tsp of lemon juice to each litre of lukewarm water. Green Jewel Echinacea Collection, £29.95/3 x 9cm plants sarahraven.com.
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