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28.7.08

Echinacea purpurea 'Double Decker'

Have you ever wanted a plant really bad and then were left feeling let down once you bought said plant for your garden? Echinacea purpurea 'Double Decker' also sold under 'Doppleganger' is a garden 'mutant' first discovered by German plant breeder Eugen Schleipfer. It is said that he found an unusal Purple Coneflower and spent many years selecting for the unusual flower we have now.

I purchased mine two years ago at a local Home Depot garden center and that should have been a big enough red flag. The Home Depot is good for a lot of things but specialty plants for the garden, IMO, is not one of them. After having seen many beautiful photos of the 'Double Decker' flower on the internet and plant catalogs I was eager to add this weird plant to my garden and when I found them for $5.00 I couldn't pass them up.

Echinacea 'Double Decker' purple coneflower


When I purchased this perennial it was about ready to bloom and after it was planted it bloomed within a few days. The problem was that the flowers looked nothing like the photo on the container nor did it look much like the photos of this coneflower I'd see on the internet. The petals of the top tier were not neat and fully formed like the lower tier of petals. They were all contorted and growing from random spots among the cone instead of in the hat-like pattern on the second tier this plant is prized for.

I should know better than to buy "special" plants from a big box garden center but I couldn't help myself. When the plant bloomed and didn't live up to my expectations I was disheartened and a little embarrassed that I wasted money on it. My embarrassment was so great that last year rather than look at the sloppy blooms I snipped them as they opened as if to hide the evidence of my lapse in (plant buying) judgment. By the fall my embarrassment had turned to anger and while doing garden clean up I tore the two clumps up and tossed them on the compost pile.

A couple of weeks ago while getting the mail I noticed this little bloom among the normal coneflowers in the garden. A small piece of one of the clumps I tore out is blooming closer it is suppose to look like. Years after Eugen Schleipfer this plant still needs selecting depending on where you buy it from. Maybe in a few decades of further selecting for the weird characteristics I'll finally have a plant that looks like the plant I wanted to buy.

Related posts:
When I collect Purple Coneflower seeds.
Removing coneflower seeds.
Identifying coneflower seeds.

13 comments:

  1. Interesting. I wonder what made it start growing like you expected. Do you think it was the soil?
    Aiyana

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  2. I always enjoy your photos of plants, and I like purple in the garden :)

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  3. Hm, why not? Time's your friend when you're a gardener, and it's an great excuse for buying a proper, expensive plant for improving the stock :).

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  4. Aiyana,

    I think when I pulled them out I pulled all of them except for the one plant in the clump that was growing like it was suppose to. Lukcy me, eh?

    Ohiomom,

    Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you like it.

    Rosengeranium,

    LOL, you're right. Although I have my eye on a couple more Coneflowers for the garden. I just saw a scented one that I have to add.

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  5. Hello. I've had this happen to me a few times. It is disheartening. By the way I found you through my mom (Cooking in Cleveland). I'm glad to see you are blogging again.

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  6. Well, you can chalk it up to experimentation!!! LOL.

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  7. I have to admit to being took in by the big box garden centers myself. Nut i have found some fabulous deals on Elderberry bushes, and closeouts on many plants. But In a town with no nursery (Since seatac airport decided to close the only on we had to build a third runway)I finally found two!One has veggies starts and such that come from a local grower! The other is just for flowers and non edible landscaping!

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  8. I like odd forms but that is just going too far for me. I'll stick to bees on the cones :)

    One of the problems with big box stores is the stress that the poor plants go through getting there and afterward. Only the following season will tell if you got a deal though.

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  9. I'll wish you luck with the selection process, Mr Brown Thumb, but the fancy coneflowers don't appeal to me, although I do like the white varieties. I wonder if the bees find the extra petals annoying?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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  10. I have heard that it takes a few years for this characteristic to show up. I have a plant, purchased 3 years ago, that is only this year having petals forming out of the center cone on some of the flowers. I hope to post a photo when they are more complete. So maybe patience is the key with this one?

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  11. They are really neat little flowers- I love the hat and I hope you let them grow- see what happens next year!

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  12. I'm glad one of the plants got away...I think time is key here, but I've been disappointed as much by mailorder as locals in this way. I hope the "refugee" continues to perform better. I'm really into coneflowers myself, and I like all the "garish" new varieties as well as some cool wild cultivars. Once I'm done collecting seeds and plants, I'm hoping for at least 20 varieties! Gotta keep my pollinators happy, y'know? :)

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