Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Purple Coneflower - Magnus

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)  is a native US plant that grows as easily as any weed in most of the continental US.  The variety I grow is the most popular of the cultivars and it is called Magnus.  There are many new varieties and hybrids that get mixed reviews, but Magnus is consistently praised wherever it is grown. 

The plant gets about 3' tall and most of the blooms are held up above the foliage.  The blooms are profuse and striking as you can see in the above picture.  The blooms begin in early summer and stay around for a month or so.   The leaves are medium green and sandpapery in feel.  The clump can get around 3' in diameter after a couple of years.  I have this plant growing in one of my backyard butterfly gardens along with butterfly bush, verbena, and salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage.)

The blooms are about 3" around and daisylike.  I smell a distinct and pleasant fragrance on my blooms.  Butterflies and bees frequently visit these blooms.  Birds also love the seeds if you forego deadheading the blooms.

This plant is a reliable and long-lived perennial everywhere it grows.  You can divide the plant every two or three years to get more of them.  Also, they will re-seed in the vicinity if given the right conditions.  Coneflowers need nearly full sun and good drainage to thrive best.  They tolerate drought well and will grow in almost any soil type.  The flowers are long-lasting in a vase and have long stems that are perfect for cutting. This really is one of the best perennials to grow for a cottage garden or butterfly garden.

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