A Gigantic, Fragrant Echinacea
Plant Patent Applied For. Ruby Giant is simply the best Echinacea ever developed. Period. Where else can you find a fragrant — I mean really scented, not just that “whiff of the outdoors” that some nurserymen pass off as fragrance! — Purple Coneflower with 5- to 7-inch blooms of richest ruby-pink? And to find all this on a hardy native plant that grows from Maine to Florida and doesn’t mind excessive cold, heat, humidity, or even drought . . . this is a gardener’s dream plant, and I suggest you do as I’m doing and prepare a large bed for planting.
Before we look at where this beauty came from, let’s just run through its stats. The plant reaches 3 feet tall and 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide, with an upright, clumping habit and long, super-strong stems for supporting all those luscious blooms. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, the watchword being “unfussy.” Irresistible to butterflies and bees when in bloom, then to birds when the flowers pass and the big central cones point skywards, it flowers in midsummer to early fall. The blooms measure 5 to 7 inches across, with a wide-open, daisy form you’ll love. And they last a long, long time in the vase, refusing to flop as some large, heavy flowers will.
‘Ruby Giant’ was bred by renowned nurseryman Dan Heims, who discovered it growing in the garden of the son of Magnus Nielson (famous for introducing Echinacea ‘Magnus,’ a large pink). Ironically, this native American plant was developed in Europe, but we are happy to welcome it home. Propagated by cuttings and tissue culture, it is extremely reliable. And you just won’t believe the combination of big flowers and heavenly aroma.
Space plants about 15 to 18 inches apart in any sun-drenched, well-drained location.