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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - August 03, 2011

From: Powthan , VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Reproducing Echinacea 'Sunbeam' from Powthan VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to reproduce a flowering plant- Sundown echinacea. I have a plant now. Can you give me info on how to do it? thanks so much.

ANSWER:

From Fine Gardening Echinaceae 'Sunbeam'-this gives the most complete information that we found on the culture of the plant, and the fact that it is a hybrid between North American natives Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower) and Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow coneflower). It also has the information that propagation is by division, every 3 or 4 years.

More information and pictures from Paghat's Garden Orange Coneflower 'Sunbeam'.

From our webpage on Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower):

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Seeds may be sown outside in late fall or stored, stratified and sown in the spring. Plants can be multiplied by making root divisions in early spring however division seems to stimulate the development of too many stems and too few flowers.
Seed Collection: Collect mature seedheads in the fall and break them open to extract seeds.
Seed Treatment: Cold-moist stratification for two months improves germination."

The problem there is that this plant is a hybrid, and the seeds of a hybrid will either revert to one or the other of the parents, or be sterile, and not germinate at all. If you do get seeds, birds will help you with them; finches love the seeds.

From West Coast Seeds:

"A hybrid is created by crossing two unique parents. Crossing involves taking the pollen from the male and transferring it to the female. The first generation of offspring from this cross all look and act the same. They also show what's known as hybrid vigour: these plants come out stronger than their parents. But you can't plant their seed in order to raise these plants the following year. The seed collected from a hybrid plant will either resemble one of the parents, or be sterile."

So, in order to reproduce your one plant, you will first need to wait until it is 3 or 4 years old, assuming it is vigorous and has spread into a clump, and divide the clump into several individual plants. From Auburn University Horticulture, here are instructions on Division, which includes instructions and illustrations.

We don't know if you are in a hurry to get more plants; if you are, purchasing some more bedding plants to grow more clumps is about the only "fast" way to do it. As they, along with the plant you already have, get old enough to be divided, then you can divide again for more plants. By then, you may be tired of the whole thing, but you did ask. Division is ordinarily best done in late Fall or early Spring.

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Yellow coneflower
Echinacea paradoxa

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