Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Splendor' 

Prairie Splendor coneflower    Perennial of the Month-- August 2014 Perry caricature

 (pronunciation at link)  (eh-kin-aa' cee-ah )

Common name:  Prairie Splendor coneflower

Family:  Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 16-24" x 12-24"

Growth rate, habit: moderate, compact upright

Foliage:  lance-shaped (lanceolate) to egg-shaped (ovate), 4-8in. long, coarse with stiff hairs, serrate edges, alternate, simple, often clasp the stem

Flowers:   rose magenta "petals" (ray flowers) downward arching with age, large orange central cone, several flowers per stem, flowers 4-5in. wide; long bloom often through much of summer, blooms earlier than some cultivars-- late spring in warm climates, mid-summer on in Vermont; sturdy stems don't need staking

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8 (-30F in winter or lower)

Soil:  dry, well-drained, will tolerate some drought once established, also periodic wet soils; grows well in poor soils

Light: full sun for best bloom, will tolerate part shade (4-6 hours direct sun daily)

Pests and problems:  none significant, young plants may be browsed by deer or rabbits

Landscape habit, uses:   borders, meadows, native gardens, wildlife (birds) gardens, cut or dried flower, often best in masses; combines well with other coneflower cultivars, Shasta daisy, Rudbeckia, daylily, Russian sage, gaillardia, coreopsis, among low sedum or taller dark-leaved cultivars, ornamental grasses

Other interest: doesn't fall over (ie flop) in our VT trials and one of the top rated to date after 3 years; European Fleuroselect gold medal winner in 2007; introduced by S&G flowers (now Syngenta); seedpods provide winter interest and seeds for birds (particularly goldfinches); genus name from prickly lower stem resembling a hedgehog (Latin echinos); genus is popular for medicinal use from vitamin C supplement to colds to other attributed uses

Other culture:   divide clumps if overcrowded in 4 years or so, deadhead to improve appearance but not necessary culturally

Propagation:  by spring division as needed, purchased seed (collected seed unless other coneflowers nearby which it may have crossed with), in fact the first coneflower introduced to bloom reliably the first year (very early sowing as in January) from seeds

Sources:  many online and local specialty nurseries

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