Echinacea Big Sky Series

allandale(3b)February 18, 2011

Wondering if anyone has had some luck growing any of the Echinacea Big Sky series in zone 3. I've got some spotty zone 4 microclimates in my yard and was looking at Summer Sky, Sunset, Sundown, to name a few to site in these warmer spots. I've had only mixed results with the echinaceas that are actually rated for this zone but not sure if it's a lack of hardiness, the Chinooks, or the growing conditions that caused previous losses. Any help is much appreciated!

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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I had Sunrise for a couple of years and i loved it. It bloomed most of the summer. It didn't come back this summer, though. I did get Sunset this year, and time will have to tell about it.

If you plant some in your microclimate areas, you'll have to let us know how they do. I have one good microclimate spot, but there are 10' hollyhocks and lupines growing there (not 10' tall! LOL). What was i thinking?!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 9:28PM
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Thanks Marcia! I've been busy getting my first batch of winter sowing containers out and I'm just reading your response now. Glad to hear you had some success with these. I think they're gorgeous and have added a couple to my final perennial order. At least I keep telling myself it's the last one. Not sure where I'll find the time to plant everything I've ordered so far. I'll be sure to update on the echinacea though. Here's hoping spring is kinder this year.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 4:48PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I'm tempted to order another one too. We'll see - i have way too much already! LOL

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 8:56PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

I've tried Sunset before, as well as Twilight? I think it was called...something like that. Both were absolutely beautiful..I especially loved the soft orange of Sunset. Unforutnately, neither of them came back this past year, even though I generally have very good luck over-wintering zone 4's. Personally, I think it is probably a combination of my heavy soil and how wet the past year was. I don't think they like clay soil that much, because I've lost even some of the reliable Magnus coneflowers before, whereas plenty of zone 4 stuff does just fine. I love coneflowers though, so I certainly haven't given up on them, and they do self-seed...but I have given up on the Big Sky series. They are pretty pricey, and I can't handle the heartache of losing them over and over again.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 2:06PM
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This is off topic sort of but you guys are such good horticulturalists and have such experience with seeds etc. I thought I would ask. Do any of you know if the seeds you collect from these coneflowers will be true to type? I collected seeds from Sundown last fall as well as a few others not from the Big Sky series(Green eyes wink, Razzmatazz).Aren't they hybrids so the seeds will be something different? I would start some but don't want to be growing things that I don't know what they are.
Thanks for any advice.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 10:09AM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

There are very few of the hybrids that the seeds will be true to type. Definitely not the Big Sky series. There are a few that are supposed to reproduce identical plants from seed: Magnus, White Swan and maybe Prairie Splendor should work, though it is questionable whether PS will be as dwarf or gradually revert to the species? Razzmatazz is a maybe I in you may get some clones, but others will be the species or something else.

Have a look at this article for more details:

But you are right..the hybrid seeds won't be identical to the parent. You may get some similar ones..but I believe the further away from the species they get, the less likely the seed will be anything like the parent.

And of course they are patented. ;)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 6:16PM
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Thanks for the link Weeper. I will have a look at it later. I guess I will throw the seeds out. These hybrids and patented plants are sure messing up sharing with your friends! I really like Sundown and it has done really well for me. Tomato soup rotted in the ground the first summer and it wasn't even wet.
I also collected some snapdragon seeds last fall. I would like certain colours and am tired of getting a mixture when I buy bedding plants. Any chance you know if the seeds will be that colour or would they have been crossed by the bees?
Thanks again for the coneflower help!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 9:53AM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

Debbie, sorry this reply is so late! I need to check back here more often..

Anyway, I don't have any solid answers for you on the snapdragon question, but my guess would be this: you'll get a mix or colors, unless all of your snapdragons were either the same color, or in different locations. An example of why I think it will turn out that way: columbines self-seed easily, and if you don't plant any other columbines nearby, you should get a bunch of clones. If you have another and different columbine fairly close, though, you'll most likely end up with a bunch of hybrids with varying colors. That is why when hyridizers are working towards certain goals, the plants need to be protected from pollinating insects after they have been hand-crossed...otherwise all that work could go out the window if some busy bee comes along!

Too bad it couldn't be more simple...

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 7:34PM
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So I'm back to report that I did end up getting 3 of these echinacea as well as a bare root "Irresistible". The Irresistible had just broken dormancy (a very small sprout) and when planted the sprout died almost immediately and no new sprouts have shown since. It's been 5-6 weeks and I'm wondering if it's ever going to show. There's been no shortage of moisture but we're just now getting some warm weather. Could it be that it's just been waiting for some sun? The Big Sky plants had been potted and came wrapped but they didn't do very well in transit and the foliage died back on those as well after planting. One looks like it's struggling to survive while the others have done nothing. Meanwhile the "Milkshakes" which came fully potted, are doing very well. These glamour varieties, while beautiful, are too pricey for experimenting so if the survival rate is low I will think twice before purchasing again.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 12:09PM
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