Favorite or New Plant
Echinacea 'Sunset', one of the new Big Sky series from Itsaul Nurseries in Atlanta, GA, has large, gorgeous, red-orange flowers with a henna-colored central cone that bloom from July well into fall. The reflexed petals are wider than some varieties so they overlap and create more impact. 'Sunset' grows about 2-1/2 feet tall and almost as wide. It has a light fragrance. Like other echinaceas, this one likes it sunny and hot and prefers well-drained soil.
Clever Gardening Technique
Vacation-Proofing Container Plants
To help plants survive while you are on vacation, group outdoor containers -- especially clay pots -- together to shade the pots and slow evaporation. Slipping clay pots inside larger plastic pots will help too. Move them all into the shade if possible. You can even erect a temporary shade structure out of shade cloth draped over sawhorses. Before you leave, soak the pots in a kiddie swimming pool or a large bucket to make sure the rootball is saturated.
If you come home from vacation to a dried-out container, don't despair. Some plants will wilt dramatically but come back once moistened. If the water you add from the top pours right through, place the entire container in a bucket of water and let the water soak into the soil from below. If it's still hot and sunny out, place the plant in a shady, cool spot for a few days. Remove damaged foliage and hold off on fertilizer until you see it has recovered.