Lynda Heavrin is the manager of landscape and horticulture at the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation in Fort Wayne. She can be reached at


New Hybrid Echinaceas
by Lynda Heavrin - posted 05/11/12

How many times have you pined over a new variety you’ve seen in a catalog or nursery? Speaking for myself, I’ve been seduced by the newest varieties too many times and then disappointed by their performance. My most recent disappointment has been the new Echinacea hybrid, ‘Sunrise’.

When I first saw ‘Sunrise’ echinacea I was spell-bound with its beautiful yellow color and intoxicating fragrance. I purchased it and planted it in my perennial garden (in Northern Indiana clay soil). It bloomed most of the summer with no extra care besides the occasional watering through drought. But the next spring my new prized plant was nowhere to be found. So I tried another with the same results.

Just like reading the repair instructions after I’ve made things worse I decided to research care for the new hybrids. These are hardy plants and cold temperature is not the issue, it is the soil. Although most echinaceas will tolerate heavier soils, many of the new hybrids will not thrive. The key to survival for these plants is to get them well-established before winter. To accomplish this it is suggested to prune off all the flowers the first year so all the nutrients go to the roots and plant in spring to early summer to give the plants a longer time to establish.

My goal is not to discourage you from purchasing these fabulous new plants. They are too wonderful to give up trying. My goal is to let you learn from my mistakes. Stay tuned for more!

Common Name: Coneflower

Botanical Name: Echinacea hybrids

Soil: Each new Echinacea hybrid group has a different parentage so will tolerate different soil types; tolerates dry soils in summer

Exposure: Full sun

Hardiness: Perennial

Watering: Newly-planted plants should get 1 inch of water per week until established; check during dry spells.

Fertilizer: Time-released fertilizer in the spring to encourage root growth

Planting: Plant late spring to early summer.

Pruning: Keep deadheaded to encourage longer bloom. Divide after three to four years.

Landscape Uses: Great border plant. The variety of colors available in the hybrids makes it easy to blend with other plants in the garden.


(From Indiana Gardening Volume I Issue III. Photos Courtesy of Itsaul plants.)


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