Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Favorite Plant in the Garden Right Now...

Is Echinacea 'Hot Papaya.'

I planted it last fall as two quart-size starts, so this summer is the first time it has bloomed for me. I have to be honest and admit that even though I had read great things about it on other blogs, I was expecting to be disappointed. Many years ago, I planted Echinacea 'Double Decker' when it was new. 'Double Decker' was one of the first Echinaceas with a poufy (sort of) top.  It was underwhelming. Most of the time the flowers looked like a species Echinacea, and those that didn't were lopsided and reminiscent of a plant with the disease Aster Yellows.

So I wasn't expecting much.


The flowers start out orange, and look kind of like they're going to be the regular flower form of an Echinacea.

Then over the course of a couple of days the petals darken and elongate and droop, and the center button starts to turn frothy.

Here are some stats.

Height: 24-36 inches
Width: 24-36 inches
Hardiness: Zone 4 to Zone 8
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Preference: Well-drained

I've seen it for sale quite often in nurseries, but it's also available via mail order from:

Avant Gardens
Bluestone Perennials
Forest Farm
White Flower Farm
Plant Delights

Echinacea 'Hot Papaya' is from Dutch hybridizer Arie Blom, the result of ten years of work, and is the first with this fiery, tropical orange-red.

I have it planted in my front garden, in the bed underneath my 'Forest Pansy' Redbud. I love it and I need more!

The "Favorite Plant in the Garden" meme is hosted by Loree of danger garden. Loree's favorite this week is an extremely spiny Acanthus. Readers leave links to their own "Favorite Plant" posts in the comments, check them out here.