Production Tips For Top Performers: Echinacea ‘Sunrise’ & ‘Harvest Moon’

Production Tips For Top Performers: Echinacea 'Sunrise' & 'Harvest Moon'

Figure 1a. Echinacea ‘Sunrise.’ The flower color
of ‘Sunrise’ is cheerful, buttery yellow and its
petals are perpendicular to the stems.

A few years ago, the world of herbaceous perennials went cone crazy with the introduction of novel yellow and orange-colored echinacea (cone flower) hybrids. These star hybrids of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea paradoxa have continued to shine with their promising performance.

Over the last few years, we have trialed numerous echinacea cultivars for their greenhouse and garden performance, and we have been charmed with the two yellow-colored cultivars–’Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon.’ The flower color of ‘Sunrise’ is cheerful, buttery yellow and the petals are perpendicular to the stems (Figure 1a) while ‘Harvest Moon’ has golden yellow flowers with reflexed petals (Figure 1b).

Figure 1b. Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon.’ Golden
yellow flowers with reflexed petals
highlight ‘Harvest Moon.’

Both cultivars are mildly fragrant and have been reliably hardy at least in USDA cold hardiness Zone 5, in the Michigan State University trial gardens. ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ are easy to schedule and will be great additions to any production program and garden.

Starting Material

‘Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ are patented, and tissue-cultured plants or plugs can be obtained from licensed propagators. We have observed slow post-transplant establishment of some echinacea cultivars, not to mention occasional to significant plant losses. However, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ have been vigorous in our trials conducted in Michigan and Florida.

 
Figure 2. The influence of photoperiod on flowering of echinacea ‘Sunrise’
under 9-, 12-, 13-, 14- and 16-hour photoperiods.

Scheduling

Non-cooled echinaceas flower only under long-day photoperiods and rosette under short-day photoperiods. When ‘Sunrise’ was grown under a nine-, 12-, 13-, 14- or 16-hour photoperiod, plants flowered only when the photoperiod exceeded 13 hours (Figure 2). We anticipate that the photoperiodic responses of ‘Harvest Moon’ and other echinacea cultivars will be similar.

Figure 4. Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon’ grown without
a plant growth retardant application.

Flowering of these cultivars can be promoted by providing long-day treatments such as day extension, night interruption from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. or cyclic lighting by mounting lamps on booms or by using a Beamflicker, ensuring a minimum of 10 foot-candles light in the darkest corner.

Flowering of some echinacea cultivars has been reported to hasten following a cooling treatment, also known as vernalization. We tested the response of ‘Sunrise’ to a 15-week vernalization treatment at 41°F. Plugs were cooled in plug trays under a nine-hour photoperiod provided at 10 foot-candles. Following cooling, plugs flowered under long-day (16-hour) or short-day (nine-hour) photoperiods. However, under short days, flowering was delayed by four to five weeks and plants were shorter and had fewer buds compared with plants under long days.

Under the long-day photoperiod, cooled plugs flowered two to three weeks earlier than non-cooled plugs. However, cooled plants were forced during the late spring when the greenhouse light intensity and temperature were higher compared with the light and temperature received by non-cooled plants forced in the fall and early spring. Both ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon’ flowered in about 11 weeks from transplanting when grown in a greenhouse at a 68°F setpoint under a 16-hour photoperiod.

Branching

Perennial growers producing echinaceas outside transplant them in the late summer or fall, allowing plants to grow before the onset of winter and then subsequently sell them in the spring. When produced in a greenhouse, after transplant, echinaceas can be bulked up under short-day photoperiods for a few weeks. Then, plants can be forced under long-day photoperiods. This additional growing allows the plants to initiate and develop lateral branches and fill the containers.

A shortcoming of this strategy is the increased production space and time for the crop. Many perennial growers also transplant, force and sell echinaceas in the spring and summer. In this production scheme, plants are grown for a shorter duration and may not branch and fill the containers. In our previous experiments, pinching did not increase lateral branching in echinacea ‘Razzmatazz’ and ‘Fragrant Angel,’ and a similar response may be found in other hybrids.

Non-sprayed control (above) and a 300 ppm BA foliar spray (below). BA was sprayed at transplant and the photo was taken three weeks later.
Photos courtesy of Judith Groninger.

 

Application of benzyladenine (BA) has been shown to increase branching of some echinacea cultivars. We are conducting trials quantifying the influence of BA applications on branching of echinacea hybrids.

In summer trials conducted at the University of Florida, a single foliar spray of 300 or 600 ppm benzyladenine at transplant increased the number of lateral branches. In our trials, three weeks after 600 and 300 ppm BA spray applications, the number of branches of ‘Sunrise’ increased by about 50 percent, while ‘Harvest Moon’ had about 120 percent additional branches (Figure 3). Thus, BA applications can be successfully used to improve branching of echinacea ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Harvest Moon.’

Production Tips

We have successfully grown hundreds of herbaceous annuals and perennials in a peat-based medium, and these echinaceas are no exception. When produced in the early spring, it is important not to over-irrigate the plants during initial establishment to avoid algae build-up in the pots. Both these cultivars will need plant growth retardant applications for height control whether produced in 5.5-inch or 1-gallon containers (Figure 4). In our trials, paclobutrazol, uniconazole, daminozide and chlormequat chloride effectively controlled the height of ‘Sunrise.’

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...
protecting bees and pollinators video

March 31, 2015

New Video On Protecting Bees And Pollinators Educates Horticulture Industry Professionals

A new educational video that provides information on the horticultural industry’s essential role in bee and pollinator stewardship is one result of industry collaboration by the Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort, Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment. “Protecting Bees & Pollinators: What Horticulture Needs to Know,” narrates the current state of bee and pollinator health, provides information on factors that impact pollinators and the environment and underscores the beneficial role horticulture plays in providing healthy pollinator ecosystems.

Read More
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

March 31, 2015

California Summer Vegetable Trials To Be Hosted By National Garden Bureau Members

Vegetable breeding companies will come together this August to host the Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Like the long-standing California Spring Trials that are held annually in California, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeding companies' trial sites in seven locations throughout the state, from August 20-21, 2015. National Garden Bureau (NGB), the non-profit organization promoting gardening on behalf of the horticulture industry, is organizing and publicizing this event on behalf of its members.

Read More
DNA-logo

March 31, 2015

DNA Green Group Will Acquire Rijnplant

DNA Green Group and Riknplant have finalized DNA Green Group's acquisition of Rijnplant, meaning that the breeding and propagation activities in pot and cut anthurium, bougainvillea and heliconia will transfer to DNA Green Group.

Read More
Latest Stories
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More
AmericanHort

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More

April 22, 2014

How Two Postharvest Care Products Worked On Potted Plan…

What your potted plants look like at retail translates to sales or fails. North Carolina State University researchers report on how two postharvest care products performed.

Read More
Dianthus 'Passion' from Emerald Coast Growers

March 27, 2014

Growing Dianthus Successfully

Here's some advice on transplanting and producing this classic perennial favorite.

Read More
Aquilegia canadensis

March 10, 2014

Tips For Producing Aquilegia

Advice on planting, temperature, vernalization, lighting and more on columbine from Emerald Coast Growers' head grower Josiah Raymer.

Read More