Magnus ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
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Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
Outdoor Growing zone
If you love the classic rosy-purple of coneflowers, with that fat orange cone, then the Magnus Coneflower is your obvious choice. Well-established, vigorous and reliable, this variety has wone awards since it was first introduced in the 90’s. Still the top pick for durability and vigor, it is remarkable for the large size of the flowers, and for the way the petals are held out flat, not drooping as they are in the wild original. Standing 2 to 3 feet tall, on strong, weather-resistant stems, it blooms throughout the whole summer, gradually maturing the blooms into big, seed-filled cones, but always looking great. It’s adored by seed-eating birds, so leave the cones through winter for them. For every garden style, from formal perennial borders to meadows, wild gardens, and sunny, dry slopes, no garden is complete without this great flower in abundance.
Full sun will give the most abundant blooming and vigorous growth from the Magnus Coneflower. Plant it in any well-drained soil, from clay to rough gravels, and in garden beds or wild areas. Once established it is very drought resistant, and thrives in all those hot and dry parts of your garden. Generally left alone by pests, diseases and deer, it is loved by butterflies and pollinators, and by birds for the seeds in winter. Cut old flowering stems to the ground between fall and spring – the leaves just shrivel and don’t even need collecting.
North American native flowers are a rich and amazing resource for gardeners, contributing a host of plants that have become ‘garden standards’, and that are grown around the world. Few have become as popular and widely-grown, though, as the eastern purple coneflower. It is so widely grown you might easily not even know it is part of our natural heritage – and an important component of the amazing prairie ecosystem that once covered much of the country. Its beauty and abundance must have amazed the first explorers, as well as its summer, not spring, flowering, something very rare in Europe. It was already recognized by western botanists while America was still a colony, and no doubt grown in settler’s gardens from the earliest times. Unfortunately, wild plants have drooping flower petals, and some people find that to look ‘sad’, which works against the acceptance of this plant by everyone. That all changed when the Magnus Coneflower came on the scene. With near-horizontal petals and a strong, darker-pink coloring, this fabulous plant looks ‘happy’, and brings superb color and interest to your summer garden. Best of all it’s incredibly easy to grow, and thrives for years even in poor conditions. All we can say is that no garden should be without this plant – yours included.
The Magnus Coneflower is a long-lived perennial plant that dies completely to the ground in winter and then comes back next spring larger and more vigorous. The new spring leaves form a clump at the base of the plant, before it sends up several tall flower stalks which can be 3 feet tall, or even a little more, on established plants. The basal leaves are long ovals, dark green with prominent long veins along them, and a rough, hairy feel. They can be as much as 5 inches long, carried on equally-long leaf stalks. The leaves become smaller, with shorter stalks, along the flower stems, and the basal clump will cover an area of at least 18 inches across.
The flower stems develop slowly, so that the first flowers don’t appear until mid-summer, and they continue into the fall. Each stem produces several flowers, and these are large and striking. Flowers are up to 6 inches across, with a spiny, prominent domes center that is orange-brown when young, turning black-brown as the flower matures. This is surrounded by a circle of petals, slim ovals held more or less horizontally, unlike the drooping petals of wild plants. The petals are a rich, warm purple-pink, slowly turning dusky-pink over the weeks and eventually turning brown, leaving the black central cone as an interesting and prominent feature. Many gardeners leave the flowers stems into the winter months, or even until spring, as they have a handsome winter look. As well, the seeds they contain are eagerly pulled out by seed-eating birds like goldfinches, providing valuable winter food for them.
The Magnus Coneflower is one of the most versatile and useful flowering plants you can grow. They are vital for continuing the bloom period through summer when you grow beds of mixed perennial flowers. They look great mass-planted between low shrubs that flower in spring and early summer – or even more spectacular with summer and fall blooming shrubs like panicle hydrangeas. They are terrific in more designed, formal gardens, but just as great in cottage gardens and of course in wild gardens and meadows, with grasses and other native plants of our prairies.
The Magnus Coneflower is perfectly hardy even in zone 4, and grows well through most zones, into zone 8. It grows well in areas with long, hot summers, but also in cooler regions too, where it is likely to still be blooming when fall begins.
Plant the Magnus Coneflower in a sunny place for the best results, but it will also take a few hours of light shade each day. It grows happily in all kinds of soil, just as long as it is well-drained. Once established plants are very drought tolerant, and are perfect in areas with poor soil as well as in dry, sandy places.
As you might expect of a native plant, the Magnus Coneflower is not troubled by deer, and it almost never has any problems with pests or diseases. Plants may die over winter if the ground is too wet. The only maintenance needed is to cut it done anytime between late fall and early spring – just do it before new growth starts. Cut the stalks down to an inch or two long, and cut off the dead leaves at the base. Nothing more is needed, but some compost as mulch in fall or spring will help it grow more vigorously.
Coneflowers, Echinacea, are a group of 9 or 10 similar species, found only in estern North America. The name comes from the Greek word ekhinos (ἐχῖνος), which means a sea urchin, referring to the spiny central dome. The eastern purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, is found all the way from southern Canada through the east, southeast and much of the Midwest, especially in the valley of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The origin of the Magnus Coneflower shows us how important North American plants are in Europe. It was created by careful selection over 10 years by a Swedish nurseryman called Magnus B. Nilsson. In 1982 he offered it to Klaus Jelitto, owner of the world-renowned German perennial seed company, Jelitto Perennial Seeds. They named ‘Magnus’ it in honor of the breeder, and released it for the first time in 1985.
In 1998 the prestigious Perennial Plant Association selected the Magnus Coneflower as their Perennial Plant of the Year. It was a real breakthrough, and just as good today as it was back then. Don’t hesitate to grow this classic in your garden – you will love it – but order now, as such popular plants don’t stay in stock for long.