Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower, is an adaptable and drought tolerant perennial. Benefits wildlife.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Echniacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ is a floriferous cultivar that can bloom the first year from seed. Plants are compact and well branched. Summer flowers are large with intensely colored purplish-red rays and a bronzy orange cone. Like the parent species, this plant is low maintenance – thriving in most sunny sites. Butterflies flock to the blooms and songbirds relish the seed that follow.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Echinacea purpurea occurs in the eastern United States from New York and Pennsylvania west to Wisconsin and Iowa. The range extends south to the Florida panhandle, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The parent species is indigenous to open woodland edges and clearings, savannas, moist to mesic Blackland prairies, meadows, limestone glades and roadsides.
This cultivar was introduced in 2000 by Jelitto Seeds as 'Rubinstern' or ‘Ruby Star’. It is reported to be an improvement of 'Magnus' with shorter more compact growth, large heads with horizontal rays, deeper colored almost ruby red or carmine color and a more prominent cone.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ is an upright perennial with strong stems that branch from the base. Plants have fibrous roots and form small colonies from short thick rhizomes.
Stems are sturdy and pubescent with leathery oval or lance shaped leaves. The blades are deep green with a short winged petiole.
Flower heads are exceptionally large averaging 3-4” wide. The intensely colored ray florets are almost ruby red in color. They are wide and horizontal (rather than drooping). The rays surround a robust spiny cone that is a deep orange or almost bronze color.
Flowering occurs over a long period of time - from early summer until autumn. Prickly clusters of dark achenes form from the disc florets and remain into early winter.
Plants grow 2-3’ tall with 2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: The ideal site for Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ has full sun and fertile well drained soil. Plants tolerate part sun but are less floriferous.
Established plants endure heat and some drought. They are pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
Avoid excessive use of fertilizers as this leads to weak growth that is more susceptible to disease. If soil retains moisture in winter, plants may succumb to root and crown diseases.
Deadheading can extend the season of bloom but will remove the desirable seed that are savored by goldfinches.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden, Cut Flower Garden or Meadow. Plants are also used as Accent plants, Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ with Coreopsis major, Rudbeckia hirta, Monarda fistulosa, Liatris spicata, Schizachyrium scoparium and Andropogon gerardii.
In garden situations, the cultivar ‘Magnus’ (which also has horizontal rays) could be substituted.
TRIVIA: ‘Ruby Star’ was chosen as the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2006 Cutflower of the Year.