So, it's summer in Florida. It's hot. Really hot. The kind of hot where you sweat just thinking about going outside, and can suffer heat stroke on your way to the mailbox. Yup, it's hot. And, I'm sorry to say, that means we've been neglecting the gardens in My Florida Backyard. The time for new plantings is past for now, and we're relying on the gardens to do their best with what they have, which is why it was so nice to go outside the other day and discover that the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) was flowering for the first time in months.
Echinacea is a little out of its range in Central Florida - something about our climate means that while the plants can survive, they certainly don't thrive like they do up north. Rather than growing to 3 or 4 feet tall, here they tend to top out around 12 inches or so. But given the right conditions, they do still flower well, and it seems that, without doing anything in particular, we've finally started providing the right conditions for our Echinacea. It's not very tall, but it has more flowers than ever before. Apparently, it thrives on benign neglect!
Our Echinacea is in the butterfly garden, where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade. The soil there is dry and fairly poor. It's currently nearly buried by more robust plants nearby, and to be honest, we'd forgotten it was there. We had only a few anemic-looking blooms on it last year, and left it on its own. It's rewarding us by coming back with vigor, perhaps proving that whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger!
Echinacea is well-known by both medicinal and butterfly gardeners, and it's nice to have it finally doing reasonably well. It will never be like the coneflower up north (see our pictures from Ohio last summer for proof), but we love it for doing the best it can in a very difficult environment!