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Echinacea 'Hot Papaya'

Updated on June 18, 2013

This coneflower is hot hot hot!

The first double flower orange echinacea ever, 'Hot Papaya' is a spicy-hot beauty.
The first double flower orange echinacea ever, 'Hot Papaya' is a spicy-hot beauty. | Source

Grower's Tip

When you first plant Hot Papaya, keep the soil consistently moist. Once it's established and growing well in your garden, watering is optional. Like all coneflowers, Hot Papaya is drought tolerant.

Hot Papaya has a full, zinnia-like pom-pom center.
Hot Papaya has a full, zinnia-like pom-pom center. | Source

Bold & Spicy

Want to "spice" up your garden?

Add a few clumps of 'Hot Papaya' Echinacea to a flowerbed, border, landscaping island or mailbox garden.

Everything about this bold purple coneflower hybrid is hot, hot, hot—from its sweet-as- honey scent and large, double blossoms to its vivid red and orange color.

A hybrid developed by master hybridizer Arie Blom of AB Cultivars in The Netherlands, Hot Papaya was the first ever double-flower orange coneflower.

Hot Papaya performs well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9, growing up to 36 inches high in clumps up to 30 inches in diameter. It has only two real requirements: full sun and good drainage.

Like Echinacea purpurea (common purple coneflower), Hot Papaya has a tight, upright habit and sturdy, thick stems. The stems and leaves, though primarily green, exhibit touches of burgundy: maroon streaks on the stems and wine markings on the centers and the bases of leaves.

Hot Papaya really is a beautiful and unusual hardy herbaceous perennial that adds a colorful pinch of spice to the landscape.

Growing Hot Papaya Echinacea

As the coneflower blooms age, their pompoms loosen and darken to a deep orangy-red.
As the coneflower blooms age, their pompoms loosen and darken to a deep orangy-red. | Source

Grower's Tip

To propagate Hot Papaya easily, separate it into crowns in the spring, just as you would any other clumping herbaceous perennial, such as Echinacea pupurea (purple coneflower) and Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan). Or, start Hot Papaya from tissue cuttings.

You can also grow Hot Papaya from purchased seeds; however, because it's a hybrid, Hot Papaya won't grow true from seeds that you collect.

We planted quart-sized nursery pots of Hot Papaya in a landscaping island filled with other native cultivars, including Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline' (bee balm), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed), Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan) and Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire).

Hot Papaya definitely stole the show, producing spectacular flowers for four months. (The butterfly weed and bee balm also did well, probably because, like Hot Papaya, they are drought tolerant.)

Several catalogs claim that Hot Papaya flowers from July through August or September, but ours began producing blooms in June and continued to flower into fall, when I stopped cutting them to leave seeds for the birds and provide structure in our winter garden.

The blossoms were consistently big and bright, with red ray petals and orange-centered pompoms. As they aged, the pompoms loosened and lost their orange markings, changing to a deep, all-over orangy-red.

Our only issue with Hot Papaya was its susceptibility to deer, which seemed to find its sweet scent appealing. Twice our plants were damaged. However, they recovered quickly and continued to bloom.

Although this Hot Papaya flower is older, it's still a beauty and, if left on the plant to dry, will provide seeds for the birds.
Although this Hot Papaya flower is older, it's still a beauty and, if left on the plant to dry, will provide seeds for the birds. | Source

About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm. Together, they would plant acres of vegetable gardens, setting tomato, eggplant and bell pepper plants; sowing row after row of beans and corn; and building up mounds of soil for white squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe and potatoes.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

Copyright © 2013 by The Dirt Farmer. All Rights Reserved.


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