What on earth eats coneflowers?

Chepachet, RI(Zone 5b)

I am absolutely stumped. I really didn't think anything would eat my coneflowers, but after having had them come back after two years, they are suddenly gone.

I had planted four plants two years ago--they did well the first year, really well last year, and this year they are nowhere to be found. Nowhere. Not a trace.

Any ideas? I love coneflowers and a friend of mine has offered to share some of hers with me (they appear to need some dividing anyway) but I am hesitant to go through all of that trouble if something is going to eat them. It doesn't look like the area has been disturbed, but we had a really cold and snowy winter and I'm wondering if mice or chipmunks could have eaten the roots.

Any thoughts appreciated--thanks!

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Well, I know that once they do come up - the rabbits eat them. I have not had underground issues. Small consolation for you, but at least you didn't watch them come up nicely and begin to flower and then disappear! If you love them--- give them another go. It's worth it ;0)

Chepachet, RI(Zone 5b)

Thanks Rosie--I don't think it's rabbits though because we literally do not have rabbits, or at least I've never seen one anywhere in our general area. I think that's because we have a high level of predatory animals in our area such as fox, coyotes, hawks and fisher cats.

It's been a long time since I've seen woodchucks but I'm starting to wonder if it could have been them.

I think I will give coneflowers another try though, especially since they are going to be free and not a special variety from a catalog like these were. Figures!

Thanks again! :D

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Agree with the woodchuck
I posted a few years back I guess - but the woodchucks stand on hind legs and pull the flowerheads down and bite them off!!

But not sure about underground attacks and you said your plants never made an appearance. Maybe the area was too wet with the extra snow melt etc, and froze/rotted. Try planting them in several areas.

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

You mention that these were a special variety. That is the problem! Let me guess...Big Sky Series?

Chepachet, RI(Zone 5b)

Yes--they were a number of selections from the Big Sky series! I know I had four plants, 3 varieties in all, can't remember which one I had two of, but they were Sundown, Sunset and Summer Sky. The flowers were so lovely--I'm really upset that they are gone.

Is there a problem with the Big Sky series?

I'm also open to the fact that the roots froze because our winter was c-o-l-d and very snowy. I just thought that echinacea's would be able to handle that? I will try planting these new ones in a variety of areas.

Woodinville, WA(Zone 8b)

Voles are a big problem all over. They eat plant parts and use mole and gopher holes to travel. You rarely see them (unless your cat brings them to you).

My dogs also love Rudbeckia and Echinacea. I wouldn't have believed that they were the culprits until I actually saw them doing it . . .

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

Big Sky Series plants are notorious for not returning after winter. I live in Zone 7 and my favorite local nursery stopped selling them. I asked her why and she said she had too many complaints.

They simply are NOT dependable garden plants. Consider yourself lucky they came back when they did. Many people lost these after one year. I love Echinacea plants and these have, in my opinion, damaged a very good plant's reputation!

Woodinville, WA(Zone 8b)

That is good to know. I absolutely love the look of the Big Sky series, but the disappointment of a plant not returning is enough to make me steer clear in future.

Chepachet, RI(Zone 5b)

Thanks everyone--I'm inclined to agree with echinaceamaniac that they probably just didn't come back. Which is a shame. The flowers were really gorgeous.

Any ideas of other cultivars I could get that would be more reliable? Are most other cultivars other than the Big Sky series safe? I like the regular purplish coneflower well enough, but I'd like to have some variety. I'd like to find something with a striking orange.

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

Niere,

Here are some very reliable cultivars:

1.) Pink Double Delight
2.) Razzmatazz
3.) Merlot

If you want orange, I'd try "Hot Papaya." It's orange, but it is from a breeding program which has proven itself. Not one of their plants has failed me yet. They created Pink Double Delight, which is my top performer ever! It is a double blooming plant though.

"Tiki Torch" was a pretty orange color which didn't fade; however, it isn't a reliable perennial here. Maybe you will have better luck though. You never know!

Chepachet, RI(Zone 5b)

Oh my gosh I am sooo glad I came into this forum! Thanks everyone so much for your input, and thank you echinaceamaniac for your suggestions--they are all beautiful!

I'm probably not going to get any planted this year unless I come across some of these cultivars at my local nurseries, but at least now I know what to look for and what to avoid.

Thank you thank you thank you!

I'm now off to peruse through the rest of this forum and get some more ideas. :D

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Also if you want a beautiful orange and willing to plant other than coneflower - check out red hot poker! Kniphofia - really nice. Need to check out your zone - not sure how cold you can go.

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