The Q&A Archives: Echinacea varieties

Question: I bought a VIVA Echinacea Big Sky Sundown. I liked it so much I bought another one. However, when I purchased the second, these plants were mixed with Echinacea Sunrise, so I'm not sure I got the same plant. Is the Sunrise definitely yellow? My Sundown has a pinkish purpleish tent to it. The second plant seems more pale yellow without the pink, but the cone looks the same. Could it be the same plant in a different stage of bloom? Or did I buy the wrong plant variety. Are they distinctly different?

Answer: As a result of crosses between Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea paradoxa there are a host of new and interesting Coneflowers called the 'Big Sky Series'. All have branching habits and strong stems, good flower size and form, fragrance, and unique new colors. While they are all part of the trademarked Big Sky series, the names here can be a bit confusing.

There are currently five members of the Big Sky series, all of which are sweetly scented. The 36-inch-tall ?Sunrise? was the first, and immediately won gardeners over with its sprightly reflexed, citrus yellow petals. Next came ?Sunset?, which features vibrant salmon-orange petals and a prominent brown cone on 30-inch-tall stems. Then the 24-inch-tall ?Twilight? jumped on board, offering a stunning red cone surrounded by rose petals. ?Matthew Saul?, also known as Harvest Moon, marched on to the scene next with bright golden petals and a golden orange cone reaching 30 inches tall. Last, but certainly not least, is the latest introduction ?Evan Saul?, commonly referred to as Sundown. Reaching 36 inches in height, this coneflower has unforgettable orange-red petals and a deep red cone.

So you see, they are similar but different. Hope you can positively identify your plants based upon the above descriptions.

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