The Unknown Coneflower
OK, it’s not really unknown. But generally when people talk about Coneflowers, they’re talking about the genus Echinacea, or less frequently, Rudbeckia. Seldom are they referring to the Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata.
Incidentally, it’s pronounced rah-TIB-ih-dah. Don’t embarrass yourself as I have by saying RAT-ty-bee-dah, which could be a gangster’s nickname. I have a knack for always choosing the wrong Latin pronunciation.
Anyway. I planted Yellow Coneflower in part because my Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpureum) kept coming down with Aster Yellows, for which there is no cure. I don’t have Echinaceas any more, and I miss them.
However, Yellow Coneflower has been resistant to Aster Yellows, even though it also is a member of the Aster Family. (Actually, Purple Coneflower is the only plant in my garden ever to succumb to Aster Yellows.)
Yellow Coneflower has a number of other virtues. The abundant flowers are a bright, clear yellow. It combines nicely with the blue spikes of Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). The rays are endearingly droopy, like the ears of a basset hound. And the cone reminds me of a clown’s nose.
Overall, this is an adaptable Midwest native that needs no coddling, and it’s of special value to native bees.
Floppiness, especially in our rich soil, is the one problem I have with Yellow Coneflower. In my garden, it grows about 5′ tall, and the stems tend to be slender and a bit too flexible.
This year, I propped up the Yellow Coneflowers in the Driveway Border with peony hoops. Even after that, I found them smothering some of their neighbors, so I got out the stakes and green twine.
But even with the excessive flopping, I find that Yellow Coneflower makes a charming addition to our Driveway Border in July and August.
That’s all for now.