October 5, 2010
The Many Faces of Pink Double Delight Coneflower
Some people don't like double flowered plants, but I'm a fan. When it came to selecting a coneflower (Echinacea) for my front yard, I felt that the single types with their brown center cones were not in keeping with the look I'm trying to create. Don't get me wrong, coneflowers look fabulous in prairie style gardens. But I'm not making a prairie here.
I looked at Pink Double Delight (PDD) coneflower for months - years even - before buying any. Part of the delay was the cost of this new and popular hybrid - how could I buy enough to make an impact without spending hundreds of dollars?
I decided to buy several small pots of PDD and divide them up into even smaller clumps as I planted them this spring. I ended up with nine plants, and I fertilized to make them grow faster. I think the fertilizer might have made some of the stems floppy, so I'm not going to do that again next year.
Floppy stems is a problem with some coneflowers. With a mature height of just 16 inches, PDD is supposed to be compact and sturdy. If you plant them in full sun with good drainage and don't give them much nitrogen, I think PDD will be fine, as most of mine were.
Part of the fun of PDD is how the flowers change as they mature. At first they look like daisies, then they fluff up and start to look like cushion mums. Unfortunately, because they have petals in the center instead of stamens with pollen, the bees don't visit these flowers. But I've planted enough catmint nearby to keep the bees busy.
I was worried about how the vivid mauve-pink flowers of PDD would blend with other colors in my front gardens. But I've come to love the combination of cool lavender and warm rosy-peach with the true pink of PDD.
Of course a nice feature of PDD and all coneflowers is their tolerance of intense sun, heat, and drought (once established). Another perk is their bloom time, which starts just as the roses have taken a break - but well before chrysanthemums start blooming - and continues until frost. The picture above shows the fall flush of blooms on the rose behind PDD.
I noticed that the White Flower Farm catalog recommends that this coneflower be planted in the spring unless you live in zone 6 or warmer. I'm planning to transplant some of these coneflowers to make more room for the oh-so-vigorous clumps of catmint nearby, and it's hard to wait until spring instead of just getting it done now. But since I live in zone 5, I'll try to be wise and wait.
Actually, I have PLENTY of work to do already this fall. With just 125 bulbs planted, I still have 405 sitting here waiting to plant. How did I end up with so many?! My back is getting sore just thinking about it. Thank goodness only 40 of the ones to be planted are tulips, which have to go deep. All the others can be planted more shallowly and so will take less work.
But back to Pink Double Delight coneflower. If you can afford the price (or if you find a good sale) and have a sunny, hot, well-drained area, I'd give this plant two thumbs up. Just be skimpy with the fertilizer, and you should be very pleased with these sturdy plants.