This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Is cheap cheerful? (Echinacea, Red Hot Poker, Iris)

Back in March I bought a few cheapy plant packs for 99p in a pound shop (like the American dollar stores). They're simply root pieces that get planted up (seems easy enough).

Above: the pack and pieces of two root balls, one with sprouts starting. I planted this into a good size pot and labelled it. Always wanted an Echinacea Purpurea!
Left: the resulting plant (the orange one). I definitely see that it isn't Echinacea Purpurea, which I thought I'd purchased. I'm not even sure it's any type of Echinacea? Can you imagine trying to take this back to a dollar/pound shop and asking for 99p back? 
The white flowers are Gypsophila Elegans (Covent Garden White) an annual I grew from seed.

 Below: Close up of flower that was supposed to be Echinacea Purpurea

Left: Another root plant bought and potted up in March was Red Hot Poker. I've always admired this plant ...
and here's the result...
No Red Hot Poker flower so far. All three root pieces are growing but no sign of flowering. The Red Hot Poker are the spiky looking foliage (I've planted an annual in the pot as well).

Maybe Red Hot Poker doesn't flower in their first year? Or maybe it will be late this year?

I also bought a pack of Dutch Iris bulbs and planted them in pots back in March. They've probably been the most successful of the 'cheapy' plant selection.
The irises are finished now but gave several weeks of fab colour this month.


  1. The "Echinacea" looks like a Calendula.

  2. Well, hey, it is sort of fun to not know what you are getting! Maybe they should just label them "Surprise garden flowers"! Reminds me of casseroles people I know ask, "What's for dinner?' and the answer is Chicken Surprise. Ever heard of one?

  3. Beautiful Echinacea! A beautiful surprise to you garden!

  4. haha - the thought of taking them back makes me laugh! That's pretty bad odds - I think I'll stay away from dollar store plants.

  5. Not what you expected, but pretty.

  6. Not really a red hot poker at the minute but the irises look nice and what ever the 'echinacea' actually are, they look good to.

  7. At least something grew, I've had bargain plants which didn't grow at all, so not much of a bargain there. I love the Iris, you did well with those.

  8. Tee hee, K!

    I'm a veg grower so I have no qualms about pound store flowers which I always expect to die. Your red hot pokers are ahead of mine! Their proper name is kniphofia - Who knows how to pronounce that???. I've got som lovely pound store dahlias ("mixed") flowering away but the gypsophila roots have produced leaf but no flowers. When I have tried to grow these from seed I didn't even get any leaf so I count this as a victory!

    p.s. I picked up a gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant from the same source. Each produced just a few fruit this year, but I have high hopes for them once they get established - next year.

  9. I love bargains and what garden can't stand few bargains. Sometimes they are the best bloomers. The iris are really pretty. Your red hot poker may need a year to mature. I have them in my garden and they are prolific blooms, but then they have been in for 2 years. I moved them from another yard. I've never tried to grow them in a container. I'd be interested to see how yours do. Be patient.

  10. Really like this. Great what all you are doing from seed. Following you now and would appreciate you coming by and following also.
    Ohio Outdoors

  11. Your echinacea is pretty and I love the Dutch iris. Garden bargains are awesome! :)