Pale Purple Coneflower is a prairie native which handles dry sterile East Coast sites well. The tall unusual flowers appear through June and July, and will sporadically rebloom if deadheaded. The flowers have pinkish purple petals (rays) which are pendant from the coppery center cones. The long lance-like leaves are somewhat hairy, which may explain some resistance to deer damage. If the flowerheads remain in place to ripen, they will provide food for songbirds and sometimes reseed if the soil conditions are favorable.
Yellow coneflower has large daisy-like flowers with drooping petals surrounding brownish prominent cones. Echinacea paradoxa starts blooming in mid-June and keeps producing lots of flowers on long green stems through July, especially if deadheaded. Yellow Coneflowers prefer good drainage, and can self-seed if the seedheads are left to ripen. They provide a valuable seed source for finches in fall, but the plants will over-winter better if most of the flowers are removed when spent. The long leaves are smooth and lance shaped.
Purple Coneflower produces pink to light purple daisy-like flowers throughout the summer. Since Echinacea purpurea is propagated by seed, there is a wide variation in height and flower color, so this is a great candidate for naturalistic settings like meadows and wildflower gardens. The cones should be left on the plants after blooming when possible, as Echinacea purpurea is a significant fall and winter food source for songbirds.
‘Fiery Meadow Mama’ Coneflower is an unusual Echinacea, with yellow drooping petals that flush to red at the cone. The petals are topped by deeper red cones, which provide important food for the birds when ripe. Echinacea ‘Fiery Meadow Mama’ has a prolonged bloom period, from late June into August. This color breakthrough looks wonderful with grasses and other prairie plants.
‘Intense Orange’ (‘TNECK10’) Coneflower is one of the Kismet® series from Terra Nova Nurseries’ breeding program. The large fragrant deep orange flowers appear in late June and are produced for an extended period through the summer. The cones in the centers of the horizontal petals are a darker orange, and provide an important food source for native birds when ripe. Pollinators also benefit from the food provided by this showy native.
PRN Preferred: Very showy orange flowers are an unusual color for Echinaceas.
‘Raspberry (‘TNECHKR’) Coneflower has deep raspberry red horizontal flowers held on strong short stems. Echinacea Kismet® ‘Raspberry’ is a compact version of the Kismet® series from Terra Nova, and is notable for its long bloom period, with individual flowers holding their color for several weeks. This Coneflower is a great addition to perennial borders because of its short stature and the great number of flowers on each plant.
Kismet® 'Red' (‘TNECHKRD’) Coneflower has a beautiful combination of bright red flowers on dark bronze stems. The daisy shaped coneflowers have showy flat petals surrounding orange red prominent cones, and Echinacea Kismet® 'Red' keeps blooming for a long time in mid summer, producing a number of short sturdy blooms. The compact stature makes this Echinacea a good front-of-the-border perennial for sunny well-drained sites. From the Terra Nova® Kismet® series of Echinaceas.
‘Yellow’ (‘TNECHY’) Coneflower is a butter yellow compact Echinacea of the Kismet® series from Terra Nova. The horizontal bright yellow petals surround a greenish cone and are held on sturdy short stems. Kismet® 'Yellow' Coneflower blooms heavily from late June through August, and the individual flowers retain their color for several weeks. Deadheading prolongs the bloom period but the seed heads are an important source of winter food for small birds.
‘Pow WowWhite’ Coneflower is a compact, heavily flowering selection with flat white petals surrounding the round orange cones. Since the ‘PowWow’ series does not require vernalization, ‘PowWow White’ and ‘PowWow Wildberry’ start blooming early in summer and keep going well into August. The compact habit and sturdy stems makes this Coneflower an excellent choice for the front of perennial beds and rock gardens. Insects and song birds use Echinacea significantly as a food source.
‘PowWow Wildberry’ Coneflower blooms for a very long period starting in June and continuing into August. The vivid rose pink flowers have flat petals surrounding the orange cone and are held up on thick sturdy stems. The ‘PowWow’ series of Echinaceas are from seed, but their compact habit and clear colors are consistent, unlike many seed strains. Introduced by PanAm seeds, and reliably hardy in sunny dry sites in the Northeast.
PRN Preferred: Compact habit, overwinters very well.
'Rocky Top' Tennessee Coneflower is a nursery-grown selection of the rare native which is on the Endangered Species list for wild plants. Echinacea 'Rocky Top' was selected from a seed grown population because of its greater vigor and larger pink coneflowers. The blooms appear above the long narrow leaves in June and July. It grows best in sunny, well-drained sites. This rare Southeastern native is a good source of food for both Goldfinches (seed) and butterflies (nectar).
Playful Meadow Mama™ Coneflower comes from the Netherlands (AB Cultivars) and has an unusual appearance with raspberry petals that are tipped with white and somewhat quilled. The center cones are reddish and the sturdy stems make Echinacea x Playful Meadow Mama™ a good cut flower. The summer bloom period is long so pollinators and birds have a good source of food (including the seedheads when dry in the fall.)
'Tomato Soup' Coneflower flowers in early to late summer, producing tall sturdy flowers with tomato red slightly pendant petals on strong stems. Echinacea paradoxa is one of the original parents in the complex crosses producing Echinacea x 'Tomato Soup', which explains the petal droop. Like the other Echinaceas, 'Tomato Soup' thrives in well drained sunny sites, and looks stunning in masses. A good choice to use in prairie and meadow settings. Introduced by Terra Nova Nurseries, as one of the Prairie Star™ series.
The beautiful violet flowers of 'Lilafee' Barrenwort are large in size, over neat, delicate foliage in April. Epimediums thrive in dry shade and 'Lilafee' is semi-evergreen. An interesting fact about Epimediums is that they are in the Barberry family (hence deer resistant).
'Purple Pixie' Barrenwort was found by Dr Richard Lighty in his own garden, as a surprising sport of Epimedium grandiflorum 'Alba'. The delicate flowers are a deep violet purple with extended white spurs, and they hover over the fine green foliage in April. 'Purple Pixie' makes an excellent semi-evergreen clump in shady dry locations, and the refined, heart-shaped leaves emerge in the spring in shades of burgundy and purple. 'Purple Pixie' performed very well in the Chicago Botanic Garden's Epimedium trials.
'Red Beauty' Barrenwort has large rosy red flowers held above the semi-evergreen foliage in April. It spreads slowly to make an excellent groundcover for dry shady sites. This is a hard-to-find Epimedium, but worth the hunt since its long spurred blooms are very showy.
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Rose Queen' has rosy pink flowers of large size in April, making it a very showy Barrenwort. It thrives in dry shade and is semi-evergreen. The flowers look like miniature Columbines hovering above the leaves.
'Bandit’ Barrenwort is a beautiful new Epimedium with ethereal clusters of white flowers over delicate green leaves accented with burgundy borders. The showy borders and hovering flowers appear in early spring, and the neat foliage matures in summer to shades of green. Epimedium grandiflorus var. higoense ‘Bandit’ makes a perfect groundcover for dry shady sites because of its tolerance to deer, rabbits and dry conditions. It was brought to the US by We Du Nursery years ago, but selected and named by Darrell Probst for its gorgeous foliage.
‘Spine Tingler’ Barrenwort was found by Darrell Probst (the Epimedium King) on a cliff in China. The evergreen foliage is attractively narrow, spiny and a dark leathery green. The delicate pale yellow flowers hover above the leaves in April and May, looking somewhat like tiny yellow moths. Epimedium ‘Spine Tingler’ makes a slow growing but excellent dry shade groundcover because deer and rabbits ignore it and it keeps attractive foliage throughout the winter. Another name for it is ‘Fairy Wings.’
‘Wudang Star’ Barrenwort was collected by Roy Lancaster on Wudang mountain in China. The evergreen foliage has bronze flecks in spring, and is topped in April by delicate white flowers displayed on 18” fine stems. Epimedium stellulatum ‘Wudang Star’ is appropriately named because the blooms hover like tiny stars above the clump of foliage. A great choice for rocky sites with good shade.
‘Caramel’ Wushan Barrenwort was introduced from China by the great Japanese plantsman Mikinori Ogisu. The delicate yellow to light orange flowers hover over burgundy colored emerging foliage in early spring. The narrow leaves have spiny serrations along their edges, and turn from burgundy in the spring to shades of green by mid summer. This is a great dry shade deer resistant groundcover.
‘Sandy Claws’ Barrenwort (also called ‘Fairy Wings’) is an obscure Chinese find by Darrell Probst. The foliage is really unusual: spiny evergreen leaves emerge in spring with chocolate coloring, making a striking setting for the white and yellow flower panicles. Unlike other E. wushanense selections, Epimedium ‘Sandy Claws’ is both compact and spreading, so it makes a good dry shade groundcover. The maroon spring foliage color matures to dark green from summer through fall and winter.
'Domino' Barrenwort comes from the prolific hybridizing work of Darrell Probost, the 'Epimedium King'. Epimedium x 'Domino' is a very heavy bloomer in April and May, producing a multitude of airy flowers displayed on burgundy stems. The blooms have long white spurs which end in rose purple cupped centers. The spikes emerge from toothed evergreen leaves which are mottled with large burgundy spots. This is one of Tony Avent's favorite 'Fairy Wings' because of its heavy reliable flower production.
'Fire Dragon' Barrenwort blooms is April and May, with spidery yellow flowers topped with light purple spurs. The semi-evergreen heart-shaped leaves are green with showy bronze margins when newly emerged, aging to green in summer. Epimedium 'Fire Dragon' comes from Robin White in England, and has great promise as a slow spreading groundcover for dry shade.
'Mandarin Star' Barrenwort is a new introduction from China with unusual floral coloration. The tepals ("spurs") are long and white, and the petals are yellow. The delicate blooms float above the heart-shaped leaves in April. Epimedium x 'Mandarin Star' delicate beauty is making this Barrenwort increasingly in demand. The foliage is semi-evergreen and attractively dentate, with bronze new growth emerging with the flowers in April.
'Pink Champagne' Barrenwort blooms heavily in April, producing many long graceful panicles covered with delicate hovering blooms. The spurs are long and white, surrounding deep pink cups. The mottled evergreen foliage continues the show after the bloom period with dark purple splotches decorating the fine green leaves. Another striking contribution from the prolific breeding work of Darrell Probost. Like all Epimediums, this makes an excellent long lived groundcover for dry shade.
PRN Preferred: Airy pink and white flowers hover above attractive mottled foliage.
'Pink Elf' Barrenwort blooms in April, with lots of delicate pink flowers hovering over the fine evergreen foliage. The spurs are pale pink and the cups are a darker bronzy pink. The leaves are heart shaped, and new growth in the spring starts out with attractive pinkish flecks. This interspecies hybrid comes from Robin White and makes an excellent compact groundcover for shady areas.
‘Pink Panther’ Barrenwort is an introduction from Thierry Delabroye, the great French Heuchera breeder. Epimedium x ‘Pink Panther’ produces delicate lavender pink flowers on arching stems above spiny evergreen foliage in April. The leaves are dark green and leathery, making an interesting addition to shade gardens even when not in bloom.
'Frohnleiten' Barrenwort has butter yellow flowers with good strong color in April and May. It does well in dry shade and is semi-evergreen. The new leaves have red veining in spring, which shows up again in the fall.
Sulfur Barrenwort has yellow flowers in April over large green leaves. It is a vigorous shade groundcover that is semi-evergreen and covers an area more rapidly than most Barrenworts.
PRN Preferred: This tried-and-true Barrenwort is one of the most vigorous groundcovers, producing abundant yellow flowers over large clean foliage.
'Orange Queen' ('Orangekoningin') Barrenwort has pale orange flowers that float above the red-tinged newly emerging leaves. The foliage matures to green in the summer, with reddish tones in the fall. Semi-evergreen and dry site tolerant. The species name warleyense indicates that this lovely Barrenwort's parents originated in the English garden Warley Place, belonging to Miss Ellen Willmott, but the actual cross was the work of the German plantsman Ernst Pagels.
‘Merlin’ Young’s Barrenwort starts blooming in early spring, producing delicate lavender purple nodding flowers that resemble tiny Columbines. The small heart-shaped leaves also emerge in early spring in shades of wine and purple, turning green in early summer. Epimedium x youngianum ‘Merlin’ was found as a chance seedling in the garden of Amy Doncaster in England. ‘Merlin’ is slow growing but forms a tough, pest resistant mat in time.
‘Big Blue’ Sea Holly is an amazingly different color addition to the well-drained garden. It has silvery green thistle-like foliage which is topped by glowing blue stems and flowers. The blooms in June look like tiny blue artichokes, and are held well above the leaves. Thriving in dry sandy sites, Eryngium ‘Big Blue’ is also deer resistant.
'Blue Cap' ('Blaukappe') Sea Holly blooms in July and August, producing silvery blue spiky flowers in abundance. The unusual cone-shaped blooms are held on thistle-like silvery foliage and are attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. Eryngium 'Blue Cap' performs well in hot dry areas and is salt tolerant, so seashore locations are a perfect place for this unusual perennial.
Rattlesnake Master is an interesting oddity for unusual perennials borders, with grayish green spiny leaves from which spring its very tall flower spikes in July and August. The blooms are a pale silvery blue and look somewhat like round thistles. Tolerant of both dry and moist conditions, this dramatic looking native got its name from the formerly held theory that its sap cured rattle snake bites. As Dr. Alan Armitage says so succinctly, "Fat chance". Butterflies love it.
PRN Preferred: The blooms provide a striking architectural note in the landscape, towering over the silvery basal foliage. Very attractive to many pollinators.
Mistflower is a long blooming native which blooms heavily from August to frost. Eupatorium coelestinum looks like an Ageratum, as it is crowned with delicate clouds of violet blue flowers. This is not a plant for the faint-of-heart, as it spreads vigorously to make a good groundcover mat for shady and sunny locations.
Eupatorium 'Baby Joe' is the shortest of the Joe Pye Weeds we've seen so far and the beautiful, profuse clusters of mauve pink flowers show that it has not sacrificed flower-power for reduced height. It performs well in both wet and regular sites, and blooms from July through August. Introduced by Future Plants. Eupatorium dubium has now been renamed 'Eutrochium' by botanists.
The mauve pink flower clusters of 'Little Joe' Joe Pye Weed appear in July and August. Selected by Steve Lighty and introduced by Conard-Pyle Company of Pennsylvania. It is also wet site tolerant, and a great butterfly attractant. (New genus name is Eutrochium)
Hyssop-leaved Thoroughwort first came to our attention on visiting the High Line Park in NYC in August where its clouds of delicate flat-topped white flowers were truly amazing amongst the fall grasses and other blooms. Most effective when used in masses, it tolerates dry and sandy conditions well. Seeds vigorously.
'Phantom' Joe Pye Weed was hybridized by Herbert Oudshoorn of Holland to produce a compact but heavily flowering Eupatorium. The flower clumps emerge wine red in July, and mature to a strong pink. The shorter size produces stronger stems supporting the showy compound flowers, which are an attractive addition to a cut flower arrangement. This tough native is a great butterfly attractant in mid to late summer, and it also is deer resistant. (New genus name is Eutrochium)
PRN Preferred: All the great attributes of a Joe Pye Weed but a more compact form.
‘Golden Glory’ Wood Spurge produces brilliant chartreuse flower clumps in April. The foliage of Euphorbia ‘Golden Glory’ starts as a bronzy reddish purple before the flowers emerge, and the contrast with the chartreuse is amazing. The leaves become bronze during the summer, and then take on fall colors of red, bronze and purple. Since the sap of Euphorbias is highly caustic, ‘Golden Glory’ is completely deer and pest resistant.
Cushion Spurge is stunning when in bloom, producing cymes of sulfur yellow bracts at the tips of the stems in April and May. The green foliage is neat and completely pest free, since all Euphorbs have toxic sap that no animal eats. Euphorbia polychroma’s habit is cushion or dome shaped, particularly in full sun. It forms a taproot which helps it handle drought and rocky soils well. The fall color is attractive shades of red. Prune spent flower heads to discourage self-seeding.
‘Ascot Rainbow’ Martin’s Spurge has semi-evergreen foliage which has yellow and green variegation. Euphorbia x ‘Ascot Rainbow’ produces interesting yellowish green bracts with small red eyes in the actual flowers’ centers in April and May. Since the white sap of Euphorbias is quite toxic, ‘Ascot Rainbow’ makes a good choice for deer issues as long as the drainage is good, and it also has attractive red to orange fall color.