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Garden with a Winner!™

Echinacea Sombrero™ ‘Lemon Yellow Improved’

Echinacea Sombrero™ ‘Lemon Yellow Improved’ has been developed to outperform many of it’s relatives. The improved components of this spectacular addition are none the least winter hardiness. Echinacea in general have a great cold tolerance, but this introduction pushes the limits somewhat further, good news for gardeners in zones below four. Additionally, the bloom count is consistently higher than most varieties with the individual flowers offering a thicker appearance as the petals overlap. I am particularly fond of the centre ‘bee’ as it seems more tuft-like a characteristic that personally I find attractive. The individual flowers are somewhat reflexed or downward pointing, exemplified as the flowers age. Once the petals have faded past their best the centre cone (hence the common name of Cone Flower) stands alone offering interest and some texture to the landscape. Further, the seed heads provide a food source for late season birds and also look rather interesting as a statement in the garden. I often cut mine back in the spring so that the stalks collect snow. This selection is well coded as lemon yellow as the colour is clear and intense making it rather attractive to pollinators for the mid to late summer garden. This improved addition to the massive and ever-expanding Echinacea family, offers a more compact nature with oodles of bloom. Already enjoying the genetics of a sturdy and hardy perennial family, this choice will be very popular. Almost as tall as she is wide, this gem reaches approximately 20 inches and fills a gap of about 24 inches which will lend itself to interplanting with other selections for variety. Companions other than additional Echinacea include the sun loving Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Hemerocallis, ornamental grasses, Nepeta, Perovskia, Rudbeckia, Salvia, and Sedum.

Diseases are relatively tame with Echinacea in general with the exception of a condition termed ‘Aster Yellows’. Not an aster obviously however the mighty leafhopper transmits this disease to a great many plants other than the namesake. What you will see are the flowers somewhat deformed and not opening to their full extent often remaining green in colour. In regions that receive abundant moisture the crown of the plant is susceptible to rot and the foliage to powdery mildew. Personally, I do not mulch around my plants and water is kept off the foliage in the late of the day. Depending on a good soaking at soil level, my plants perform very well throughout the heat of the summer. Echinacea, once established, are consider very drought resistant with all of the varieties demanding well drained soil. One of the quickest ways to lose your plant is to be overly generous with water leaving the root mass sodden.

By all means consider planting other selections with this newcomer to the family. These perennials will offer cheery and bright blossoms for the better part of your summer growing period. Periodic deadheading will encourage even more blossoms.