Red echinacea flower.

Hot Spot: Echinaceas

There’s a small patch of border that’s become quite a hot-spot this year. Red, orange and magenta-pink echinaceas (coneflowers), red geums, dark red scabious and the deep reddish-purple leaves of a heuchera are the start of a new planting scheme that radiates warmth.

There hasn’t been much red or orange in the garden before. Most of the other areas are planted with softer colours. These include lots of pink and mauve flowers, with plenty of lavender-blues added into the mix.

I find that these gentle pinkish shades can be difficult to use near red or orange – they can end up looking washed-out and feeble. On the other hand, a bright magenta – like rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) – works just fine and adds its own intense colour to the fieriness of the new border.

It feels good to now have an area specifically for hot colours. Last year I had some tithonia (Mexican sunflowers) in that space, and I found that I really enjoyed the intense colour. The tithonia is annual, so this year I’ve planted perennials instead.

(Although I grow a few annuals, at the moment I’m trying to concentrate on perennials so that I don’t have too much re-planting to do every year.)

The only problem with echinaceas is that they are short-lived perennials. I’ve read that the older pink varieties appear to go on from year to year because they self-seed and their offspring continue the display after the original plants have died. (It was something of a relief to discover this, because I was worried that I couldn’t keep the plants alive for long – some years they just seemed to disappear for no apparent reason.)

Some of the new echinaceas are said not to come true from seed and may die out after a few years. If that’s the case with those that I’ve planted here, then, because the colours are so gorgeous, I won’t mind buying more. (I’d like to plant yellow echinaceas too – they would be a good alternative to rudbekias because they’re much more tolerant of drought.)

In contrast to these brightly-coloured daisies, I also have an echinacea which has white flowers with centres that start off green and turn yellow. (If I remember correctly, it’s ‘Powwow White’.) It has a very different look to the hot-coloured flowers and suits a softer, more relaxing colour scheme. I photographed this particular flower when it froze last winter – you can see it here: https://annmackay.blog/2019/11/24/frozen-flowers/

Pink and orange echinacea flowers.
Echinacea flowers in a mix of orange and magenta-pink.

21 thoughts on “Hot Spot: Echinaceas

  1. I’ll admire pink and blue flowers of any shade, but I love the hot colors. I’m always suprised by the vibrant colors of garden varieties; I suppose it’s because I tend to focus on our natives. The combination of hot pinks, orange, magenta, and reds remind me of the clothing colors of many Hispanics in our area, especially those from Central American countries.

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    1. For me it’s good to have some of the hot colours just for a change and a bit of sheer energy. And I love bright clothing! πŸ™‚

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  2. You know I love bright, hot/warm colours and your lead photo is gorgeous Ann! A real treat for me in our winter πŸ™‚ Despite my love of all things colourful I enjoyed having another look at the frozen white echinacea too, so interesting!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the bright red echinacea, Liz! I find myself looking at them frequently – they’re such a change from the rest of the garden. (And right beside where I’m working in the garden at the moment, so I get plenty of opportunities to enjoy them. πŸ™‚ )

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  3. I wasn’t aware of the many color varieties of echinaceas, Ann. We have the pink version in our garden. It took them a few years to get established after I sowed the seeds, but now the flowers do, indeed, reappear each year.

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    1. I had seen one or two a few years ago – the first white ones and one with the pink/orange colouring, but never the red. Now there seem to be lots of new shades and I love them!

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  4. I enjoy a hot border too, the colours are so invigorating. I was entranced yesterday by a really vibrant mix of purples and oranges with some strong yellows thrown in, in the bog garden at Coughton Court, a National Trust property in the Midlands. It was over the top and fabulous, I contravened the one way rule to go back and look again when a family had passed. It included day lilies, buddleia, verbena, golden rod and several other plants.

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    1. That sounds like a gloriously rich mix! I haven’t been garden-visiting yet this year and I really miss seeing the colour combinations in other people’s gardens. Must get some visits in soon…

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  5. Hot colours do look great together especially at this time of year. Sadly my Helenium and Rudbeckia have failed to regrow this year, short lasting in my garden appears to be a year!

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    1. I don’t do so well with heleniums and rudbekias – maybe they’re more fussy! I’m really pleased with the echinacea colours.

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  6. These are really beautiful flowers! I love the hot colors as they show up so nicely when people are walking by the house. These would look fabulous but I am not sure they are grown around here. Your garden must be absolutely beautiful this time of year!

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    1. Erm, that area of my garden is a bit like a building site right now because it’s by the pond-in-construction. (Basically a massive hole in the ground!) And the area around is being levelled off a bit before replanting, so not at its best. (Should be good next year! πŸ™‚ )

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    1. Thanks Jill! I’ve struggled to keep rudbekia going and lost a few over the years. I have one at the moment and am trying to remember to keep it watered. Echinacea does seem a lot happier here.

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