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The common ash family (Echinacea), which belongs to the family of the daisy family (Asteraceae), originally comes from the dry climes of Central and North America. There you will find the colorful species of this perennial genus in stony hilly landscapes, prairies, in open forest areas and on boulder fields. Overall, this relatively small genus comprises only nine species, of which especially the purple sunhat (Echinacea purpurea) is used in our gardens. This was already used by the natives as a medicinal plant. Its ingredients are said to boost the immune system and help with wound healing in respiratory diseases and as a pulp.
In Europe, the also called hedgehog head was introduced in the 17th century. The breeders initially held back for a long time, which is why there were mainly plants with white and purple flowers in the trade. About 20 years ago, however, the plant moved back into the focus of the perennial growers and there was a veritable Scheinsonnenhut- "competition breeding". Thus, for example, the number of hybrids of the red common sun hat grew rapidly to well over 100 different varieties with a variety of colors and flower shapes. Because of its colorful variety, the common sun hat is one of the most popular flowering plants in our gardens today.
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Common Sunhat 'Orange Passion'
Common Sunhat 'Mango Meadowbrite'
Common Sunhat 'Alba'
Common Sunhat 'Red Papaya'
Sparkling Sunhat 'Summer Cocktail'
The German name of this perennial genus often causes confusion, as the plants - especially yellow-flowered species such as Echinacea paradoxa - the sun hats (Rudbeckia) look very similar. Occasionally, therefore, the species of common sunhat simply called sun hat. Another German name that the Common Sunhat wears is hedgehog head. This is due to the hedgehog center of the perennial reminiscent of a hedgehog, from which derives also the botanical name Echinacea, because "hedgehog" means in Greek "echinos".
Appearance and growth
The common sunhat is a vigorous perennial that is firmly anchored in the ground with its black rhizome-like rhizome. From it grow the mostly unbranched, bristly hairy and stiff upright stems up to 150 centimeters. Close to the ground, the common sun hat forms small groups of basal dark green and roughly textured leaves, which spread to a growth width of up to 50 centimeters. The deciduous leaves on the stem are alternate, lanceolate, entire and pointed towards the outside (slightly serrated in some varieties).
Strong colors and nicely protruding tongue flowers characterize the common sunhat 'Rubinstein'
Each stem is crowned by a single flower head, which has a semi-spherical to broad conical center of tubular flowers, depending on the species. These are usually yellow or greenish in the light-blooded varieties and orange to reddish brown in the dark-blooded varieties. Between the tubular flowers are stiff scales, which are color-matched to the tubular flowers. On the edge of the center emerge the eye-catching flowers of the tongue, which vary greatly not only in color and shape depending on the variety, but also at the angle in which they protrude from the flower head. Some appear as if they were hanging limply down (for example, in Echinacea pallida), others are strong and stiff from the flower head, as if they wanted to present themselves to the beholder with all their beauty.
Location and ground
The common sun hat loves a sunny location with a rich and well drained soil. The perennial is frugal thanks to its origin and copes well with drought. With congestion or winter wet she can not handle so well. If your soil tends to waterlogged, you should definitely think of a drainage, otherwise it could come in winter to some failures. In generally rather cold regions, a mulch layer is also worthwhile to protect the plants from the cold in spring.
Combined with yarrow, finch, spider flower or nettle, the varieties of the red common sun hat give off a colorful combination in the perennial border. The common sunhat is also well suited for planting in the classic cottage garden, on the edge of the woods, in borders along paths and is a good supplement for a bee and butterfly friendly garden. Also popular is the common sun hat as a cut plant. Echinacea pallida and Echinacea paradoxa are also popular shrubs in prairie beds, where they form a great contrast to grasses with their pretty flower heads.
Combined with other Sommerblühern can be arranged with the Scheinsonnenhut a dreamlike perennial flowerbed
Planting and care
The first few weeks after planting should be watered regularly for the roots to develop well. If the hedgehog head has established itself, the soil surface may well be a bit dry. Since the plant is quite frugal, no fertilizer must be added. However, some compost can be mixed with the soil in the spring to make it easier for the plants to start the season. To extend the flowering season, you can cut back individual flowering shoots, but be careful not to disturb the plants in the formation of larger groups. In addition, it is worth cutting off the withered plant parts so that the common sunhat can put more power into new shoots. Since the seeds in the fall and winter are very decorative in the bed, it is worth cutting them back in the spring.
When temperatures rise above the 20 degree mark in the spring, you can sow the seeds of the red common sun hat directly in the bed. Other species, on the other hand, need a cold stimulus to germinate.
In the late autumn months (October / November) it is also possible to cut root cuttings. These should then be brought into the house over the winter months before they are planted in the spring.
Diseases and pests
Unfortunately it is the common sun hat as with many other flowering plants also: He stands with voracious snails on the menu. Regular collection and examination of the plants for food marks is therefore recommended. Since the plant tolerates dryness well once it has established itself, it can make it harder for the snails to adjust to the plants by adjusting the watering.
The absence of water also helps with another problem that often affects the common sunhat: powdery mildew. The fungus appears as a white layer on the leaves and damages them. Moisture helps it to develop, so when watering, be sure to water as close to the ground as possible, and avoid getting the leaves wet. Forms mildew, must be acted quickly. Affected plant parts should be cut off immediately and disposed of with household waste.