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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

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Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus Superior': New in the 2011/2012 RHS Plant Finder

Posted by Graham Rice on 27 Apr 2011 at 12:45 PM

Echinacea'Magnus,Superior,Jelitto, Image: ©Jelitto Seeds.I’m continuing my look at the plants new in the latest RHS Plant Finder which are listed by the most nurseries. Top of the list was Actaea ‘Misty Blue’, next came Geranium ‘Midnight Clouds’, then Erodium ‘Freedom’, then came Chasmanthium latifolium ‘River Mist’ and today it’s Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus Superior'.

Back in the 1990s the RHS ran a trial of echinaceas at Wisley. Most of those raised from seed were poor, in particular the plants were very variable so when they flowered you never knew quite what to expect. But one stood out, ‘Magnus’, and it was the only one to be given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Now, twenty five years after it’s original introduction, it’s been upgraded. Georg Uebelhart, General Manager of Jelitto Seeds, told me about ’Magnus Superior’.

“We have been working on an improvement of ‘Magnus’ for over ten years,” he said. “When ‘Magnus’ became the Perennial Plant of the Year in the United States in 1998, demand for seed multiplied ten times from when it was introduced back in 1985 and demand increased again in 2003 with the AGM. We could not keep up with production and this caused other seed houses to produce seed of lesser quality but still with the name ‘Magnus’. As every one knows it’s our variety, we received a lot of the complaints.

“We did everything we could to fight this, to keep the ethics at high a standard and not let the money do the talking. So one big reason to introduce ‘Magnus Superior’ is to set the standard again. We will be discontinuing “regular” ‘Magnus’ in a couple of years,’ said Georg, “and will only supply ‘Magnus Superior’.”

'‘Magnus Superior’ features slightly darker carmine red flowers, even more consistent growth, larger cones in the centre of the flower, and all purple stems (‘Magnus’ had a few plants with green stems).

Seed of Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus Superior' was available from Jelitto Perennial Seeds last year, now plants raised from this seed are available from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.


Miranda Hodgson said:

That's interesting, Graham. I've got some Echincea seedlings on the go at the moment, but the seeds were given to me and I've no idea what variety they are. If they do turn out poorly, I'll get some of these 'Magnus Superior' seeds instead.

on 28 Apr 2011 at 08:55 AM

Graham Rice said:

You may well find, Miranda, that if the seeds were collected from a garden plant you get a mixture of colours, depending on the plant from which the seed came. Could be interesting, may be disappointing.

on 12 May 2011 at 04:19 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

I'm eager to find out what they grow into, Graham! Might get some seeds of 'Magnus Superior' anyway, just to see the difference.

on 14 May 2011 at 06:02 PM