Coneflower: One name, two perennials

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The well-known Yellow Sun Hat (Rudbeckia fulgida) is also called Common Sun Hat or Shining Sun Hat and comes from the genus Rudbeckia from the daisy family (Asteraceae). The genus Echinacea is also called Sonnenhut with German name: Scheinsonnenhut, red sun hat, purple sun hat or - also very significant - hedgehog head.

Colorful sun hat

In combination, the two plants Rudbeckia and Echinacea look twice as nice

The most well-known representative of the "hedgehog heads" is Echinacea purpurea, the red sun hat, often also called purple sun hat. It also comes from the daisy family and was initially assigned to the genus Rudbeckia according to the older Linnaeus nomenclature. Later, however, the botanist Conrad Monk discovered such great differences that he separated the nine species of Echinacea from the genus Rudbeckia. Biologically, the rudbeckia is close to the sunflowers, the echinacea is more similar to the zinnias. The different color variants further complicate the assignment, because now there are both red rudbeckia and yellow echinaceae. Both perennials are extremely popular bedding and cut flowers.

Distinguish sun hats

For hobby gardeners who are not very familiar with perennials, it is not so easy to distinguish the two plant genera. There is, however, a trick that works reliably: the so-called "petting test".

Yellow sunhat (Rudbeckia)

Purple Sunhat (Echinacea)

In direct comparison, the differences between Rudbeckia (left) and Echinacea (right) are clearly visible. The latter is sometimes called the hedgehog head because of its strongly arched, spiky flower basket

Both flowers have a conical upwards arched middle. Echinacea, however, has the characteristic spiny-pointed spider leaves in the center of the flower, which gave it its botanical genus name, derived from the Greek word for sea urchin. The dark brown, violet or black Spreublattsitze the rudbeckia, however, are relatively smooth and soft. The outer tongue flowers of the Echinacea hang also stronger than those of the rudbeckia and bulge slightly with the tips down. Newer breeds, however, usually carry their petals higher, for example, the varieties 'Robert Bloom', 'Rubinstern' and 'Magnus'. Also, the flowering of echinacea appears larger than the rudbeckia, but this is only clear in direct comparison.

Location claims of sun hats

Both types of perennials are rather uncomplicated in their location requirements and belong to the classic farmer garden plants, which are suitable for both the bed and the tub. They look especially nice in larger groups of at least ten plants. Because of their long, relatively stable stems, they are popular cut flowers. With a height of between 80 and 150 centimeters, they are one of the larger and most enduring summer flowering plants in the garden. In addition, they attract numerous bees and butterflies in the summer and should therefore not be missing in any natural garden. Leave faded seeds in autumn and winter, these serve as food for birds.

Rudbeckia fulgida

The flowers of Rudbeckia fulgida have very narrow petals. Most popular is the variety 'Goldsturm' (photo)

Yellow coneflower also grows in partial shade

The genus of rudbeckia is divided into over 20 different species, the most famous are Rudbeckia fulgida (shining sun hat), Rudbeckia laciniata (slotted sun hat) and Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed rudbeckia). She is one or two years old and therefore rather short-lived. Unlike echinacea, rudbeckia is a so-called cold germ. The best time for sowing is therefore autumn. In nurseries you can buy young plants. The perennial becomes about one to three meters high depending on the species. For a beautiful fullness of flowers, the plants should be divided every four to five years in the spring or autumn - especially on poorer, sandy soils they are otherwise not very durable and will pay for themselves quite quickly. Rudbeckia like a well drained and slightly moist soil in a sunny to half shady position.

Red sun hat needs a sunny location

The red sun hat has become one of the great fashion flowers and presents its simple, filled or double-decker flowers from July to September. Since in addition to the classic purple of the wild species now also varieties with bright red, pale pink, orange, yellow and cream white flowers, has become a few years ago, the less irritating German name Scheinsonnenhut prevailed. The perennial is extremely hardy and can withstand temperatures down to -40 degrees. After that, she needs a frost-free period of 13 weeks to drive out. In general, the common sunhat needs a sunny, warm location with fresh to moist, nutrient-rich soil. He also tolerates heat and short periods of drought.

Dry locations with well-drained soils, on the other hand, prefer the pale common sun hatch (Echinacea pallida), which also originates from North America. He is about 80 inches high and has very narrow, more drooping tongue florets. He is especially popular as a perennial for steppe and prairie tea. Like the red sun hat, he needs a full sun.

Pale Common Sunhat (Echinacea pallida)

Pale Common Sunhat (Echinacea pallida)

New varieties are usually short-lived

Unfortunately, the common sun hat is in unfavorable locations even shorter lived than the yellow coneflower and should therefore also be shared frequently. Among the new color variants, there are only a few that are vital and can last more than two years without division. These include, for example, 'Tomato Soup' (light red) and 'Virgin' (creamy white). Tip: It is best to cut the varieties in the first year before flowering - even if it is difficult. They then become stronger and last longer. A pruning immediately after flowering is an important life-prolonging measure. Older and much more robust varieties include 'Magnus' (purple) and 'Alba' (white).
In the perennial border, all sun-hats can be combined very well with various ornamental grasses, stonecrop, scented nettle, Indian nettle, ornamental fennel and one or two-year-old summer flowers such as zinnias, cosmees and Patagonian verbena. By the way: Due to its anti-inflammatory constituents, the common sun hat also has a great importance as a medicinal plant. Its active ingredients are processed in various medicines to aid in respiratory or urinary tract infections as well as to strengthen the immune system. However, their healing power is now controversial, as this could not be proven in the majority of studies.

Video Board: Echinacea Purpurea - Purple Coneflower - How to grow Echinacea.

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