Why does echinacea (coneflower) often revert back to the color purple?

Over time, I have purchased many stylish (& often more costly) colors of echinacea & it almost always reverts back to the color purple. This has led me to the burning question, Why does echinacea (coneflower) often revert back to the color purple after a couple of seasons?

At one point, this hardy patch of echinacea (coneflower) had a white variety mixed in. Over time, the patch has reverted to purple.
This is one red echinacea plant that I put in about 3-4 years ago. As you can see, half of the plant is now blooming purple! This patch is in a different bed, in a different area of my yard from the picture above.

I decided to try to find some answers.

From my research, the color keeps reverting, because purple is the dominant trait or because cross pollination occurred.

In nature, echinacea can come in purple, pale purple, & yellow. The different colors and varieties (for example, double or triple blossoms) come from humans self-pollinating the plants in labs and creating hybrids through vegetative propagation.

Although different color hybrids can still provide pollen for pollinators, the flowers with double & triple blossoms (also hybrids created by man) are not good for pollinators because the petals block the pollen. Also, some hybrid varieties are sterile & do not produce seeds like the native plants. This poses a problems for birds who depend on the plants for food.

This post is not meant to discourage you from this lovely plant. Echinacea is native to eastern & central North America. It is really easy to grow and comes back to my garden consistently every year. It can also be used in tea and tinctures because it has many health benefits. Plus, pollinators really love it!

It’s a good thing that I do really love the purple echinacea. I do not think I’ll be messing with hybrid varieties anymore.

Two summers ago, Emily and I spent a pretty penny on matching “green twister” varieties. This last summer (2020), they were still green and purple. Time will tell whether or not Mother Nature reverts them back to purple!

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