By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Yo ho, campers. This year is coming in hot in many areas of the East and Southwest. You see “wimpy” perennials spoiled by a cool and extended spring succumb to the early drought and ninety-degree temperatures of summer. Ya need some tough stuff, and Echinacea powers through these periods and give us drought resistant and heat tolerant floral pleasure till frost.
Echinacea are truly plants that can handle global warming. Though the bounce from winter to summer is faster, it’s not new. In the Pacific Northwest we can have springlike temps through July 4th (too many wet ones!), and our summers are very dry and sunny. Flowering plants can flag, blooms dry up and pollinators are left holding an empty pollen sac. Again, look to coneflowers to provide a rich source of nectar and pollen (the single-flowered ones). Terra Nova's breeding team has bred Echinacea to be constant or reblooming, more than tripling the benefit to the bees, butterflies, and bumble bees.
For the homeowner they provide flowers in a widely expanding range of colors from green to multicolored blooms in orange and red. Moderate soil and some watering is needed to establish them. Terra Nova has released multiple series, each huddled in a group to provide consistency in plant habit and spread in different colors. The Cara Mia™ line are all double flowers on compact, heavily branched, upright mounds. Yum!
CARA MIA™ ‘Carmine’
Monrovia is one of the largest nurseries in the world. They use a wide number of Terra Nova genetics for a reason: better genetics. This plant in their offering shows very bright, fuchsia cherry-colored double flowers as a spectacular companion to its sister Echinacea CARA MIA™ 'Coral'. In full sun it can grow to 28” tall and 20” wide. Dark-eyed, anemone flowers fill out to be one of the strongest colored Echinaceas to date. Combine the flowers with the great habit and dense pine-green foliage and you've got an instant consumer favorite. Hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9 and can bloom from June to October.
Conch shell peach and coral are blended to form the fantastic flowers on this garden-worthy plant. The double flowers first start off as a green-eyed anemone type and then burst into their true double form. This upright, compact-habit plant features healthy mid-green foliage, right to the ground, making it very versatile and a pleasure to grow. Spectacular companion to its sister Echinacea CARA MIA™ 'Carmine'. In full sun it can grow to 28” tall and 20” wide. Hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from July to October.
One amazing, heavily flowering, beautiful double Echinacea. CARA MIA™ 'Sands' reminds us of a gorgeous white sand beach with its clean, crisp look. Compact but dense foliage supports abundant flowering stems with glowing white petals, a cream-colored cone, and bright green eye. Well balanced, does not flop despite substantial bloom size and count. Fantastic in the landscape, high crown count, and bright unique double flowers make the CARA MIA™ series a standout. In full sun it can grow to 20” tall and 30” wide. Hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from June to October.
One of Dan Heims’ faves! Upright, basal branching with plenty of flower power. Forms a lovely, tapered bowl of flowers with stems long enough for cutting! 'Seashell' is a bright, warm shell-pink with a green eye. The flowers are large doubles and have an extremely long life in the garden. The foliage is a medium green and has an attractive gloss to it. Valuable for garden beds and containers. Excellent vigor, too. In full sun it can grow to 21” tall and 21” wide. It’s hardy in zones 4-9 and can bloom from July to October.
Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by The American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit. He was honored by receiving the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.