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

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Favorite Plant in the Garden This Week...

...Is Echinacea 'After Midnight.' I considered saving this post until after midnight so that I wouldn't be posting twice in one day. But 6 p.m. works just fine.

Echinacea 'After Midnight' is the first named variety of Echinacea that I planted in the garden when we moved here five years ago. It was one of the first in the recent explosion of Echinacea varieties, and was still relatively new then. It's shorter and darker than the species Echinacea purpurea, which I have a lot of in my garden, but perhaps not quite as vigorous. They've been very well-behaved plants in terms of spreading. Even though it's one of the few plants that I have never moved since planting it, my three plants have not increased quite as explosively as the species, which is not to detract from them. This may be because the seeds (I think) are sterile. I've tried saving seeds from 'After Midnight' and it does produce them, but so far I haven't been successful at getting them to sprout. Maybe it's a good thing I haven't gotten them to sprout, since it's a patented plant. And quite likely if they did sprout, the offspring wouldn't resemble the parent, which is a hybrid of Echinacea purpurea and E. paradoxa.

The petals and center cone, as well as the stem, are darker than the species

It does produce pollen, so I wonder why the seeds it produces have failed to sprout.

 Like Echinacea purpurea, 'After Midnight' has been remarkably drought-tolerant. While I was away in July this area got no water at all, which caused the nearby Darmera peltata to dry up. But 'After Midnight' started blooming beautifully without a hitch.

'Staying alive, staying alive, ah ah ah ah..."

All three plants lined up along the stream

For comparison purposes, here's a shot of the species Echinacea purpurea.

E. purpurea has lighter pink petals, a more orange cone, taller flowers and a green stem.

Here is some info about Echinacea purpurea x paradoxa 'After Midnight.'

Height: 12-18 inches
Spacing: 8-14 inches
Hardiness: Zone 4-9
Bloom Time: Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Drought-tolerant

While the trademarked name of the variety is 'After Midnight,' it was produced by Itsaul Nurseries in Atlanta, Georgia under the name 'Emily Saul.'

Echinacea trivia: Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos, which means hedgehog and refers to the flower’s center cone, which when dry is very spiny (and makes saving seeds a difficult proposition).

Loree at Danger Garden hosts the Favorite Plant in the Garden meme. You can read her current post here, and don't forget to check out the comments, where other bloggers leave links to posts about their current favorite plants.