These strikingly pretty flowers will delight

  • The best late-summer daisies come from the U.S.
  • You can grow coneflowers in most garden soils, if they receive plenty of sun
  • Among intermediate varieties, Goldquelle grows to 90cm

The best late-summer daisies come from the U.S. Sunflowers flourish all over the Wild West, and their branched stems and multiple blooms are far prettier than the floral frying pans cultivated here.

But America’s loveliest are coneflowers and black-eyed Susans, with their broad rays and contrasting central cones.

They belong to close-related botanical groups, and the finest are Rudbeckia and Echinacea.

Rudbeckia flowers are mostly yellow, orange or mahogany, while Echinaceas usually have orange or dark-brown central cones surrounded by purplishpink rays.

The best late-summer daisies come from the U.S. says Nigel Colborn. Purple haze: Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Magnus can be planted in drifts

The best late-summer daisies come from the U.S. says Nigel Colborn. Purple haze: Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Magnus can be planted in drifts

Both groups are easy to grow and most are hardy in Britain. The wild species are naturally lovely, but cultivated varieties are often longer-lasting, with larger, more showy flowers.

You can grow coneflowers in most garden soils, provided they receive plenty of sun.

The tallest, Rudbeckia Herbstsonne (Autumn Sun), at 2.5 m, would tower above the heads of a basketball team.

But there are also medium and small types.

Most are hardy perennials — good for buying and planting now. They’ll last for years, but there are short-lived tender coneflowers, too. You can raise those from seed, sown early next year, or order them as plug plants for spring delivery.

THE RIGHT HEIGHTS 

Several coneflowers flourish in my own garden. Rudbeckia Herbstsonne, with its golden flowers and green cones, is a favourite. I also like R. laciniata, which has green-coned flowers with canary yellow rays.

Among intermediate varieties, Goldquelle grows to 90cm with double flowers in egg-yolk yellow. The black-eyed Susan, R. fulgida var. sullivantii, is less lanky and flowers more freely. Its cheerful, dark-centred, orange-yellow flowers keep coming for much of summer.

Tender Rudbeckias range from mahogany or marmalade tints to bright yellow. They’re best grown as annuals, planted outside in May to flower from mid-summer to the first frost.

There are many varieties, all easy from seed. Try Mr Fothergills (mr-fothergills.co.uk). I love the smouldering tones of Chocolate Orange and the green-centred, bright-yellow flowers of Prairie Sun. Fothergill’s also offers plug plants.

RAYS OF SUNSHINE 

Purple coneflower Echinacea is the Rudbeckia’s closest relative. Mauve or purple-red rays surround large cones, whose dark bases are relieved by orange or gold highlights.

A wild species, Echinacea pallida has flowers that resemble fireworks. This tall beauty is short-lived, but easy from seed (available from chilternseeds.co.uk).

Most ‘improved’ Echinaceas were bred from E.purpurea. These are more like bogstandard daisies. But perhaps it’s good to have a wider choice.

Crocus (crocus.co.uk) stocks E. purpurea and E. pallida. Other hybrids include White Swan, Magnus, a rugged pinkpurple beauty, and Green Envy, with green-tipped pink rays. There are doubles, too.

Echinaceas can sulk if divided. But they’ll sprout from root cuttings taken in winter. You can also gather seed, which will germinate readily in a propagator, if sown in early spring. Hardy Rudbeckias divide readily. They also seed freely and will often self-sow. But don’t expect tender Rudbeckia hirta varieties to survive winter. 



Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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