After trialing over 50 different cultivars of Echinacea, we are pleased to announce new additions to the Prairie Bloom list of recommended perennials.  The plants in the trial received basic garden care - they were fertilized, mulched, and watered until established.  Then they survived mostly on natural rainfall, with some supplemental watering during especially dry periods li [...]

After trialing over 50 different cultivars of Echinacea, we are pleased to announce new additions to the Prairie Bloom list of recommended perennials. 
The plants in the trial received basic garden care - they were fertilized, mulched, and watered until established.  Then they survived mostly on natural rainfall, with some supplemental watering during especially dry periods like the summer of 2012.  Unfortunately, during the second and third years, some plants had to be removed due to Aster Yellows Disease (see previous blog post on flower diseases for more information). 
The research trial results suggest that Echinacea, even though native to Kansas, should not be considered to be long-lived perennial flowers. These Echinacea should be considered three-year perennials, meaning many cultivars declined or did not overwinter beyond three seasons in the garden. 
Prairie Bloom Additions:
The full Prairie Bloom list can be viewed here.  The flower profile pages have plant dimensions, first week of bloom, and more pictures. 
Adding Echinacea to your garden
Did you know that the National Garden Bureau declared 2014 to be the Year of the Echinacea?  To grow their best, Echinacea need a sunny garden spot with well-drained soil.  The NGB points out their garden uses in a informative article:
Echinacea is attractive to birds, bees and butterflies making it a great choice for a pollinator-friendly garden. It is generally deer resistant. Because of their root structure, the plants are drought tolerant and can withstand heat and wind. Used in garden borders or backgrounds, Echinacea adds color and texture for a wildflower or prairie-style garden. For best visual impact, plant in masses. Deadhead florets to encourage further blooms. Echinacea flowers through the summer (June through August). Its seed heads can be left to dry on the plant to feed wild birds through the fall and winter. Echinacea plants will reseed in the fall, with new flowers growing the following season. Hardiness zones vary by variety, with a range from USDA Zone 4-9.