Photo credit: Baltimore Sun/Elizabeth Malby
Echinaceas, otherwise known as coneflowers, are far and away my favorites in the garden.
They are tough, even in drought. Their stems are sturdy. They are rarely vulnerable to disease or insects and the birds love their seed heads.
They used to come in just one color - purple, which would fade to a pale lavender as the flower aged.
Now they come in everything from red ("Tomato Soup") to white ("Fragrant Angel) with stops at yellow ("Mac n Cheese") and green ("Coconut Lime") in between.
And I bought them all.
Sadly, I didn't get the colors I paid for -- and I paid as much as $22 for some of the newer varieties
Donna Williams, who writes for the blog Diggin' It for the Christian Science Monitor, might have the answers for me.
She writes that echinaceas need to be planted early in the season - not in the fall -- so they can become established well ahead of winter.
She also provides lists of the best varieties, ones not to bother with because they don't hold their color or they invite pests, and a list of varieties (ie colors) for which is it too early to tell how they will perform.
If you like this plant as much as I do, print out Donna's lists so you can be a smart shopper.