Coneflowers...ubiquitous, beloved, and resilient. I recommend them to others, I've written about them, and the variety of Echinaceas out there keeps multiplying every year. And yet they hate me.
This is the only coneflower I have had this year. It's a pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), a cousin of E. purpurea that's native to the clay-busting shortgrass prairies of my region. Now granted, this plant is only two years old and pale purple coneflowers are by nature much less showy than their famous counterpart, but still...this is it??
Much more frustrating is this E. purpurea cultivar that has underperformed for so many years now that I can't even remember which one it is! (I think one of the Meadowbrights.)
I planted it in too much shade about three or four years ago (my fault), so I moved it the following spring to this sunny site where it's done nothing since. We're well beyond the "it's rejuvenating from the move" phase. What gives??
Then last fall I ordered some plain 'ole E. purpureas for my north border. Only three of the five or six are growing. In their defense, this could be my fault: did I mistake their shoots for weeds earlier this spring and pull them? Possible. Are they unable to grow in the horrible mix of clay and lava rocks? Certainly possible. But, excepting all that, these ones are still barely close to flowering despite plenty of moisture and (what I thought was) decent sun conditions.
I've been gardening for over 20 years, I'm a published garden writer, and yet some of the simplest, most common perennials defy my every attempt to grow them, be they rare native, normal type or fancy cultivar. It is remarkable the ability of plants to remind one of one's humility.