The Herculean journey of a Sombrero Echinacea

The life of a Sombrero Echinacea before it gets to a consumer’s garden is not an easy one. It is filled with trials and tests, much like that of young Hercules in Greek Mythology. In fact, Sombrero was compared to a body builder a few years ago.

by Katie Anderson, Business Manager at Darwin Perennials

Where does it all begin? In a perennial bed with a very specific purpose.

Darwin Perennials has been breeding Echinacea for more than 15 years. Each year, new genetics are explored. Row after row of Echinacea with different colors, habits and unique characteristics are grown in our R&D field. They’re trialed to see which are the “stars” and can move on to the next part of the process. The most exciting are then recruited to begin what can only be compared to rigorous boot camp.

The “recruit” is initiated into tissue culture and further trialed to ensure it can be propagated efficiently. Then it is grown out over and over again to make sure it keeps the color and shape we want to fit the Sombrero brand. Each is then scrutinized by a panel to decide which is the best of the best. Recruits that graduate from this boot camp get a first-class trip for the next chapter.

The tissue culture is sent to production labs overseas. The lab evaluates and multiplies the variety checking for stability and whether it can be produced on a large scale. If they are successful, trial shipments are sent to Darwin Perennials’ young plant partners for – you guessed it – more trials, more tests.

These perennial young plant growers are Sombrero specialists. They know what works, what doesn’t work, and what their customers want. Their feedback is what can boost a hopeful variety into the final round: Advanced grower trials. The young plant growers send meticulously grown liners to trial sites all over North America – the final and last leg of the journey!

These trials determine hardiness zones, what varieties perform better than others, and popularity with growers and buyers. High marks from these growers, along with information from all the steps before, determine if an Echinacea will be lucky enough to become a Sombrero.

Darwin Perennials puts Sombrero, and all of our varieties, through the ringer to make sure customers get the best possible plant. Sombrero is an Echinacea hero. Like Hercules, they have been put to the test and come out the best.

For more information:
Darwin Perennials
622 Town Road
West Chicago, Illinois 60185-2698
630 231-3600
darwinperennials.com


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