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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Recent Comments

New echinaceas - 1

Posted by Graham Rice on 16 Nov 2008 at 01:50 PM

Every time I post about new echinaceas more of you than usual take a look. (I can check exactly how many times each post and each picture is been viewed.) So today and tomorrow I'm bringing you news of two more new echinaceas. Today, the first seed mixture that includes all the new colours - ‘Dreamcoat', from Mr Fothergill's Seeds.

Bred in Holland, this is the first opportunity to grow all the new colours from one packet of seed and this brings both advantages and disadvantages. As the picture shows, the mix includes white, deep pinks, purplish shades, yellow, orange, coral and scarlet - they're all there. And notice the very pale blushed white flower in the bottom right hand corner; that's a colour rarely seen.

But of course, with only 20 seeds in a packet there's no telling exactly which colour your plants will turn out to be. My guess is that there'll be more pink and purple shades than anything else. But one plant of the new scarlet, orange and yellow shades usually costs a great deal more than the cost of a packet of ‘Dreamcoat' so basically the odds on a bargain look good.

The other thing is that plants are highly unlikely to flower in their first year. I'd suggest sowing early in gentle heat, pricking them out into pots, harden them off and then planting them in the garden. Always keep them a little on the dry side, never allow their compost to get soggy. This will give the plants a long growing season in which to build up to a good size and so produce the most flowers in their second year.

Echinacea ‘Dreamcoat' is available only from Mr Fothergill's Seeds.

Declaration of interest: I sometimes advise Mr Fothergill's Seeds on their catalogues, and have written the introduction to the latest edition of their flower seed catalogue. For this I am paid a fee.



DefiningYourHome said:

I know what you mean about the popularity of echinacea! My stories are also the most visited (along with deer resistant gardening).

Thank you for listing the source and planting information, too.

Being in the USA, I thoroughly enjoying visiting your blog to see what's happening in the UK.  My son has an archaeology graduate school degree from UCL in London.


Defining Your Home Garden

Chapel Hill, NC USA

on 16 Nov 2008 at 03:30 PM

Foxnfirefly said:

Wow--a rainbow in a seed packet!!  "Dreamcoat" is amazing, but how bad do we want to go?  It's an "Alice in Wonderland" effect.   Are the red ones actually available separately??  I am eagerly awaiting to see the next new ones!!!  Thanks for posting!!  

on 17 Nov 2008 at 01:34 AM

Graham Rice said:

Over here in Britain, Cameron, echinaceas have not been in the top ten of perennials until the last few years when the many new varieties have captured everyone's attention. Unfortunately, Mr Fothergill's Seeds are not available in the USA, although a limited selection from their range is availabvle in Canada at

As to the red ones, Foxnfirefly, seed is not available but 'Tomato Soup', an excellent new scarlet variety from the USA, will be available from plants next year - at present the only supplier I can confirm is FuturePrimitive Plants (

on 17 Nov 2008 at 12:32 PM

Dermot said:

Yes, but don't they just get too tall and fall over? Especially the double flowered varieties.

on 17 Nov 2008 at 12:42 PM

Foxnfirefly said:

Thanks, Mr. Rice!!  

on 18 Nov 2008 at 02:23 AM

Graham Rice said:

You're right, Dermot, 'Razzmatazz' in particular grows tall and the stems often fail to support the flowers. The similar 'Pink Double Delight' is both shorter and sturdier and more recent doubles like 'Hot Papaya' and 'Pink Poodle' are also a little shorter.

In fact. they key to ensuring that the stems support the heavy double flowers is not so much the thickness and strength of the stem itself but the strength of the junction between the stem and the crown of the plant.

on 19 Nov 2008 at 01:06 PM

sue-chan said:

Hi Graham - Yes, I really fell for this particular echinicea variety.  Not so happy with the razzamtazz - it's a bit much, if you ask me. :)   But this dreamcoat has lovely colours....

I'm a huge echnicea fan, partially because they are perennials and that they are fairly easy to grow once you drive the slugs away.  I'll let you know how the dreamcoat does - a packet is already sitting on my kitchen table...

on 24 Nov 2008 at 06:31 PM

Graham Rice said:

One thing to keep in mind, sue-chan, is that the newer colours - yellow, orange, scarlet etc - tend to insist on good winter drainage.

on 26 Nov 2008 at 02:41 PM

Martin Blow said:

To be honest the newer Echinacea varieties available in Britain don't perform very well for us - slow to establish, shy to flower and not very hardy. Added to this Razzamatazz is a really dirty pink - not very desirable! In our part of the country you can't beat the old varieties Rubinstern and White Swan for performance.

on 01 Dec 2008 at 01:08 PM

Graham Rice said:

What part of the country are you in, Martin? Is your soil well-drained?

on 01 Dec 2008 at 01:48 PM

Martin Blow said:

We garden in Cheshire on very sandy loam - so yes well drained. However we do very well with Heleniums and other moisure loving daisies. We've tried and lost Art's Pride on a number of occasions. Echinacea Sunrise has survived 3 years now and is only just making a good plant. The answer seems to be lots of compost and not overcrowding.

on 01 Dec 2008 at 03:09 PM

Graham Rice said:

Art's Pride is notoriously difficult to keep going, I'd say 'Harvest Moon' is more robust than most. It will be interesting to see how these seed-raised forms overwinter - be sure to keep and divide any that sail through the winter without problems.

on 02 Dec 2008 at 01:49 PM