gemini40July 23, 2011

I was just browsing White Flower Farms web site for some new echinacea plants.There is a new one called "Buble Gum" no reviews and for plant zones 6-S and6-9 W.

I had planted some a few ears ago with no luck at all, The Big Sky series.So are echinacea not really hardy here in Ma?

What has been your experience?


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whitegarden(Z5 MA)

The special hybrids are finicky and the critters eat anything else that makes it through the winter. I've given up on them.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 5:11PM
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The campus where I work had a major landscape redesign a few years ago, and it included a lot of "no-care" perennial wildflowers. Some of the areas where echinacea seem to thrive are on hillsides with what looks like very low soil fertility. These don't look like the straight species, as their petals are very narrow, but they're the traditional purple-pink color. Whenever I see them blooming away without being tended, I vow to add some to the wilder parts of my garden (OK, I admit, my whole garden's pretty wild) but I haven't tried them yet.

I'd go for the old fashioned ones if I were going to plant them, because I remember the outcry over some of the new, luscious-looking ones that did not come back - anywhere.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 7:44AM
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mayalena(6 - MetroWest Boston)

I've had some luck with the Big Sky Series -- Sundown, for one. I've had about 5 plants return for 3 years now in dull soil and less than full sun. I like the way the color fades from a hotter orangey-pink to a muted salmon. But I have more luck with Magnus and Kim's Knee High. They are really vigorous (better soil, more sun). THis year, I am adding a bunch of Sunrise to my Raspberry Wine monarda patch, as I love the colors together. Hope they'll thrive....

If you are going to buy them, I would do it now, while they are in bloom, so you get a sense of what you are getting. Maybe start with just a pot or two and see if they return for you. Mine are all quite neglected, which, as DTD mentioned, echinacea seem to like. I never give them supplementary water, unless I've just planted them....

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:14AM
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I have only grown some of the older types of Echinacea, like Magnus and the straight species and I can grow them, so it itsn't so much a hardiness problem as it is an issue of strong and healthy plants. Some of the newer color types seem to have been released before they were given a thorough enough testing, I guess. Many of the Big Sky series in particular were not very robust plants from what I have read, and many people were not able to grow them successfully. If you go to the perennials forum, there has been a lot of discussion about the newer varieties of Echinacea and many comments on how different varieties grow. In particular I've linked below a thread that you may find useful about which ones do well for folks.

If you use the search page at the bottom of the main listing of threads on the perennials forum, you'll get lots of views on various Echinaceas. You'll want to look at location to help you decide if it's true for you also. Here's another thread.

Here is a page for professional growers that recommends for the newer types of Echinacea that all flower buds be cut off for the first year to allow the plant to develop well and grow strong enough so that it can survive that first winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good and bad Echinaceas - perennial forum

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:24AM
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Looks like Mayalena and I cross-posted. Interesting that she has had luck with some of the Big Sky plants, so maybe some of them are worth trying in this area.

One thing I forgot to say is that White Flower Farm is not necessarily a nursery that gives you the most bang for your buck or even great quality plants, based on my experience. You can look up their rating on Garden Watchdog, which GardenWeb won't let me link to since they are competition. It's not very good. Look at Garden Watchdog's top 30 companies for some great suggestions on places to get plants.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:47AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I've had a couple Big Sky hybrids and my experience has not been great. They have declined in vigor as the years go by. I started with 3 plants each of Sunrise and Summer Sky, and now have 2 Summer Sky left, and the 1 scraggly Sunrise left this Spring was finished off by a vole! I don't like the way they fade in color, and the blooms are often deformed.

Some of the newer hybrids may be worth trying and there have been some threads about them over on Perennials forum. The poster Echinaceamaniac seems to grow a lot of them.

So far my favorite Echinaceas are the cultivars of E. purpurea. White Swan is gorgeous, and this year I started 'Pow wow wild berry', 'Bravado', and 'Primadonna White' from seed, so we'll see.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Thanks for all your responses, very much appreciated. Thank you all.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 10:06AM
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If you do not have Magnus or Kim's Knee High, try those first. They are tried and true and have remarkable staying power through the season and over the years.

There are other strong growers, but read the reviews before you plop down 12-18 dollars for plants that have not be field tested adequately before release to the public.

Perhaps you can tell I'm among the thousands of gardeners who were (are) dissatisfied with how the Big Sky series panned out.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 8:37PM
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