Echinacea hybrids, Big Sky series
These are tough, colorful perennials from central and eastern North America. Daisylike flowers, usually with narrow, arching rays, have brownish orange, dome-shaped centers and are held on straight stems above clumps of bristly foliage. Flowers are often lightly fragrant. Generally bloom over a long period in summer (may start in spring in mildwinter climates). Flowering may continue until frost.
Use on the outskirts of gardens or in wide borders with other robust perennials. They are also excellent in containers. Generally do not need staking. They perform well in summer heat (though not in the hottest desert areas, where they are mainly spring blooming). Good cut flowers.
Clumps spread slowly, become crowded after 3 or 4 years. Fleshy rootstocks can be difficult to separate; divide carefully, making sure each division has a shoot and roots. Plantings can also be increased by taking root cuttings, seeding, or transplanting self-sown seedlings.
Plants in the Big Sky series grow to 2–3 ft. high and 2 ft. wide; choices include butter yellow ‘Sunrise’, bright orange ‘Sunset’, and reddish orange ‘Sundown’ (‘Evan Saul’).
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