Coneflowers (Echinacea) continue to rise in popularity. There are 9 species native to North America. The demand for the ‘next best coneflower’ has resulted in a surge of new introductions annually. But are these “debutantes” all they are marketed to be?
Mt. Cuba Center, a botanical garden dedicated to native plants and located in Hockessis, Delaware, recently finished a three year trial on coneflowers for the Mid-Atlantic region. This trial included many recent introductions. Their last coneflower trial was from 2007-2009. Although this trial is titled for the Mid-Atlantic region, I believe the research is beneficial to many outside this region.
The trial evaluated plants for their beauty, vigor and sturdy upright habit, and attractiveness to pollinators. Of key interest was the difference between single and double flowers in their ability to attract pollinators. The double flowering cultivars were significantly unattractive to pollinators – only receiving 4% of the average pollinator visits.
Some of the top rated coneflowers in this trial were ‘Pica Bella’ (top rated in both the 2009 and 2020 trials, pictured at top), LAKOTA ‘Santa Fe’, KISMET® Raspberry, ‘Fragrant Angel’ (winner of the most pollinator visits, pictured bottom), and SOMBRERO® Hot Coral.
Click here for the summary of this eye-opening trial.