Readers of this blog love echinaceas. It’s clear from the statistics that whenever I tell you about a new echinacea, the number of people who take a look at the blog goes up. So plenty of you will be excited about this new echinacea mixture for the 2011 season.
‘Magic Box’ is a new mixture which contains an amazingly wide range of flower colours. Not only are there the familiar purple, white and pink shades plus the newer yellow, orange and red shades - but there are also some attractive new bicolours. And there are new flower forms too. Thompson & Morgan’s plant breeder Charles Valins explained the background.
“Echinacea ‘Magic Box’ is the result of a breeding programme started in 1998. The colours produced now were achieved after years of ruthless selection. Now the mixture contains a kaleidoscope of colours, including the first bicolours for echinacea (right, click to enlarge) and some new flower shapes.
“Many plants are strongly fragrant, they are a delight for bees and butterflies while in flower, and later the seed heads attract birds.
“The mixture contains a broad colour range and also many special types, including bicolours, spider, and quilled flower types each in a small proportion. The spider types (below, click to enlarge) have curved petals, giving them a unique ‘windmill’ shape, the quilled types have fluted petals and look very different. There are also the first bicolours, including red and white, and red and orange while some can even be spider and bicolour. All of them, from the standard to the special flower shapes, make a great cut flowers and colourful bouquets.” And they’re ideal in mixed borders, perennial borders and prairie plantings.
But my advice would be to plant them in rows to begin with to cut for the house. And choose your favourites, divide them after a year or two and only move the best into borders.