Perennial of the Year

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' was selected as the Perennial of the Year for 1998 by the Perennial Plant Association. Purple Coneflower is native to the Midwestern plains, but like many American natives, it was first refined in Europe before reintroduction to the US. Magnus was selected by Magnus Nilsson for its rose-purple color and non-drooping nature of the petals. Magnus Purple Coneflower is easy to grow and tolerant of a wide range of conditions. It performs best in full sun to part shade in well-drained soils. Plants grow 2 to 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The blooms last for several weeks starting in summer. Removal of the early blooms will promote the production of more flowers later in the season. But don't deadhead all the flowers, since the goldfinches love to consume the seeds. Purple coneflower works well in almost all garden situations from the natural or prairie garden to the formal garden. Use it as a specimen planting in combination with ornamental grasses or other prairie natives. Coneflower also works well in mass plantings for a more dramatic effect. Echinacea is noted for more than it's wonderful flower display, it is also used as a medicinal herb. American Indians used many parts of the plant to cure a wide variety of aliments. Today it is a popular extract in tea and pill forms.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 1998 issue, p. 64.

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