Birth of a New Echinacea

Some of my favourite perennials in my garden started life in Fuller Native and Rare Plants nursery in Belleville, Ontario. It was just dwn the road a ways from us. (I wrote about my first visit to the nursery here.) Sadly the nursery itself is no longer in operation although the remarkable Peter Fuller still provides property consultations and sells via mail order Arisaema (Jack in the Pulpit) tubors.

There, I purchased tiny pots of Eutrochium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Sanguisorba canadensis (Canadian burnet) and Helenium (Sneezeweed) and, frm his booth at Quite Seedy Saturday, bought seeds for Silphium perfoliatum (Cup Plant), Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower) and Thermopsis villosa (Carolina Lupine).

In the fall of 2017 I attended a seed saving workshop at Peter’s place. As we were all leaving, he rushed into the garden, then came back with a handful of seed heads. From an Echinacea he had bred, he said, crossing Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow coneflower, native to a few American states) with another Echinacea species.. He asked us to take some, if we wanted, and then send him a photo of what the flower looked like.

Like other Echinaceas, it needed cold moist stratification and, when planted, took just two weeks to germinate. But the were spindly looking plants; the leaves were narrow and delicate at first. I planted them out at the end of May, last year, and they didn’t do much. A few more leaves, that was it.

But this year! Right from early spring I knew something was up. A healthy, vigorous bunch of green erupted from the ground and kept on growing. Flower buds appeared, Oh Joy! And then the flower. It seemed to me it took a LONG time for the flower colour to emerge – then again, I had my face in them several times a day last week…waiting… Finally, this delightful shade appeared. As Peter said (I e-mailed him a photo right away), there’s a lot of E. paradoxa in it.

It has a long, Latin name, but to keep things simple and clear, I’m calling it Echinacea ‘Peter Fuller.’

By mid June the first flower buds had apeared. Foliage is similar to E. pallida, although it’s not related.
Close up of the flower bud late June.
It has a HUGE centre!!!
These tall stems would make them a great cut flower. It was cool to watch them grow – the flower head would follow the sun, much like a sunflower does, causing the stems to look like giraffe necks, all bendy.
The flowers are opening at different rates, so I should have them for a while. Also, E. paradoxa is a rebloomer, so we’ll see.

And finally, the final shape and colour. The colour is similar to a patch of nearby Coreopsis. And the faint purple veining in each petal is intriguing. I hope you love it as much as I do.


      1. You might enjoy the hybrid more if you don’t. I don’t really know any of them very well though. Those types are probably more popular in your region. We have only the flashy garden varieties commonly available. The rest are in arboretums, and may not be exemplary of the species.


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