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Which Helenium and Echinacea to choose?

NollieNollie Posts: 7,053
Hello everyone, first post, here goes...

I recently moved to Catalunya and am thrilled with my new large garden, but very much learning on the job. I am attempting to create a large, south-facing hot colours border. It’s currently 1/3 planted up with various David Austin roses and shrubs for structure, now the exciting but scary bit - perennials!! Mail order nurseries offer a better selection than whats available locally, in 8 or 9 cm pots but what to buy?! Summers can get very hot and winters can be cold with nighttime frosts, so both drought tolerance and hardiness essential. I am also grappling with rocky, alkaline clay (adding manure, grit and compost by the bagload).

I have bought a load of Crocosmia bulbs, plan to weave through Salvia Caradonna/ Agastache Black Adder for contrast (both potted on and growing in the poly) but need some big impact colour, hence thinking Heleniums and Echinaceas...

I can water regularly, but are any more drought-tolerant and/or sturdier than others? I heard Sahin’s Early Flowerer is a good beginner’s helenium and like the look and height of it, but would it just flop in my summer heat? Waltraut is the other orangy/yellow one readily available and or I can special-order the shorter Mardi-Gras. What would work best? Anyone else grow Heleniums in a warm climate or am I mad to try?

I tried ‘Summer Colours’ last year, not really sure what variety it was, started orangy but turned a bit salmon pink which I was not so keen on. I really fancy Tiki Torch, but can’t get hold of it easily and certainly not cheaply. Have found Orange Passion, but can’t seem to find any reviews of it, does anyone grow this one? Any other ‘hot’ recommendations?

Any comments or advice on any of the above would be very gratefully received!
Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,652
    edited March 2018
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,652
    There's an echinacea I've seen around here called 'Tomato Soup' which looks fantastic and seems fairly robust in a UK climate.

    How about a tithonia, if helenium is too much of a stretch?
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
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  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,723
    Echinacea, are native to the American prairies, which I imagine get very hot in the summer. I would imagine they would do well.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,053
    Great, many thanks for your suggestions. Echinacea tomato soup does look a good one, I can get it mailorder from France but only in 8cm pots, so might have to wait a year before being border ready...perhaps I could grow some Tithonia from seed to fill in gaps the meantime, they look lovely. I never knew Jerusalem Artichokes were grown as ornamentals, not hugely keen on bright yellow, but I probably do need a splash or two for balance.

    Still keen to know if anyone grows (locally available to me) Echinacea Orange Passion or could guide me on which of the 3 orangy Heleniums I mentioned might work best - yes I probably am mad to try, but they are gorgeous!

    I am guessing that South-West England’s climate probably isn’t that different to mine apart from me being a bit hotter in summer, but not sure...
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,652
    I would guess it's quite a bit wetter here and our spring is definitely cooler than yours. If you're up in the mountains you may get down to our winter temps, but if you're down by the coast, maybe not.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,367
    I love helenium to but I don't live in a warm climate and have plenty of wet / windy weather.

    I grow Helenium Sahin Early & Waltraut , My SahinE does get quite tall a bit taller than waltraut but I do put supports in for all my helenium cause the growth can be a bit leggy, I'll be giving them a hard chelsea chop this year, you will get sturdier plants doing a chelsea chop but flowering delayed or like most people cut half the clump back to give a prolonged flowering. I dead head my Heleniums as well to get another flush of flowers. The colours of Sahin E and W are very similar but Sahin E tend to fade to a yellow if I remember correctly. 

    My personal opinion Moerheim Beauty better than both it a brilliant rich red fading to copper colour, it the first to flower out of the three as well. Sahin early probably has a slightly long flowering period than MB and waltraut. I have indiansommer but I wouldn't recommend it.


    Sahin Early

    Moerheim Beauty , its a deep blood red when it first opens.

    This is a picture to give you the height / size they can grow both probably a bout 1 metre tall. MBeauty on the Left - Sahin Early top Right.

    Have you not considered Dahlia's ? like Bishop of York / llandaff . what about Rudbeckia / ratibida / coreopsis or kniphofia. 

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,053
    I am still trying to figure out my climate, raisin girl and perhaps there is no direct comparison. Last year, after severe frost in April the summer was very hot and dry. The summer before, during househunting, it rained virtually every afternoon then the sun came out and it steamed - almost sub-tropical. I am 70km from the coast and 80km from French border, 400m above sea level. Quite a few frosty mornings so far this year, down to -3c, warm enough to eat lunch outside in february, 7” of snow overnight recently. The only thing I can reliably say is it gets very hot in summer, some frost a certainty in winter and sometimes we are lucky enough to get a lot of rain!

    Thank you so much Perki for those fabulous photographs and advice, what a beautiful garden you have! Being a bit yellow-averse (fiery reds/oranges and blues/purples being my favourite combination) I think you are swaying me more toward Waltraut as the one to try first. I do love your MBeauty and blue agastache(?) combo though, simply stunning.  Can you tell me, say, your MBeauty drift, how many plants did you need to create it? Would, say, five plants be enough or do I need a lot more?

    Sadly, Dahlias are out for the moment as my OH hates them and cannot be persuaded otherwise, we run into my yellow problem with rudbeckia etc. I am weakening though, OH loves yellow has already sneaked in a few daffodils in the front garden and persuaded me to buy a yellow rose. Time for Dahlia revenge, methinks!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Bright starBright star Posts: 1,152
    I would agree with Perki regarding Helenium Moerheim Beauty, it’s a stunner. Your garden is lovely Perki, that’s the kind of look I’m trying to achieve. Helenium Paradoxa and Hoopesii are both lovely too, both are yellow. I also grow Echinacea Eccentric which is a rich vibrant red.
    Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,367
    I plant in 3's, they don't take to long to bulk up, I bought sahin early in 1 litre pots with one growth shoot 3 years ago, after suffering from slugs damage and moving them around they have reached about 25 cm wide each clump. You should divide all Helenium in spring, they have different growth rates, some bulk up in autumn and others in spring, small clumps can fail if divided in autumn. I have grown Sahin E from a cutting as well.

    I have echinaea magnus, it nice but I do prefer the helenium. I do like the pallida. A good website for some inspiration is

    The plant with helenium Mbeauty is Agastache black adder, I am not sure AB adder has made it through the winter yet. What about Achillea? reds and oranges , Terracotta a nice variety. 

    I do have a Hot border in the colours you have said yellows / oranges / red / purple with dark foliage ,its still a work in progress.  I have purple lobelia tanna and tanna sister and lythum dropmore purple but unsuitable for your climate, maybe some of the larger salvia could be a good alternative like amistad + may more . Sedum are good for red like red cauli / touchdown teak or jose aubergine is a redish pink.

    I have rudbeckia goldstrum, it a lovely plant in flower and bullet proof when it gets large. It grow into a monster last year I don't know what come over it easily got to 4ft. 
    It not quite in flower in the last picture I posted I'll find one, you can see echinaea magnus in the background. 

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