Secret Lust Coneflower: Double Echinacea

This Perennial Changes Its Color From Pink to Orange

Echinacea Secret Lust coneflower in bloom.
The frilly center of an Echinacea Secret Lust bloom makes it a "double" flower. David Beaulieu

The flowers on Secret Lust coneflower go through a transformation both in terms of color and of shape. For gardeners who find it fun to pay close attention to the development of their plants, this change can be entertaining to follow. Learn how to grow this pretty flower and about other choices available in its very popular genus.

How Botanists Classify Secret Lust Coneflower

The full botanical name of this plant is Echinacea Secret Lust. The sexy moniker following the italicized genus name is the cultivar name. The common name used for the genus is "coneflower," so you may also see the plant referred to as Secret Lust coneflower. The plants are herbaceous perennials.

Echinacea is a scientific term based on a Greek word (echinos) that means "hedgehog." It comes from the bristly cones left behind by this genus, better known through the classic coneflower, E. purpurea. The botanical name for globe thistle (Echinops) shares this prickly origin.

Coneflowers belong to the rich and diverse family known botanically as Asteraceae or Compositae. As if to emphasize the diversity of this plant group, four different common names have been given to it:

  • Aster family
  • Composite family
  • Daisy family
  • Sunflower family

Most gardeners are familiar with other plants from the aster family besides the namesake asters. The group includes popular landscape plants such as:

There are also some more obscure members of the family whose inclusion might surprise you, at first glance, such as common butterbur (Petasites hybridus).

So Much for "Purple Coneflower"

There was a time when "coneflower" and "purple coneflower" were virtually used interchangeably (although you ran into the occasional one bearing white flowers). There was some justification for this, but it isn't the case anymore. There are now hybrid plants in yellow (such as Daydream), orange (such as Firebird), and pink (such as Fatal Attraction). Secret Lust coneflower straddles the line between orange-flowered and pink-flowered types.

This perennial begins to bloom in July in a zone-5 garden. Follow the progress of the lightly-scented flower's development as it matures. Secret Lust's flowers look like those on daisies in the beginning. When they first come out, you'll notice two things about them:

  • They are not yet double.
  • Their color is a golden-orange, whereas the mature bloom gives an overall appearance of being orangey-pink at its frilly center (if you look closely, the rays are actually of a different color than the center).

But there's one more stage in the flower's development: As it starts to slip past its prime, it loses most of its orange color and becomes more and more pink. You will start seeing this change in color in August in zone 5.

When the flowers have matured and take on their "double" quality, they have an exotic, puffy hairdo in the center, as if straight from the salon (whereas "single" coneflowers sport a cone in the center). Secret Lust grows in clumps that reach almost 3 feet high, with a spread that is similar.

Where Secret Lust Coneflower Grows Best, How to Care for It

Secret Lust coneflowers will grow best for gardeners located in planting zones 3 to 8. The genus is indigenous to North America. Ideally, you'll want to grow it in full sun and in a loamy soil that drains well. But the plant is somewhat clay-tolerant. It is a drought-tolerant perennial once established. Fertilize with compost.

As a low-maintenance plant, there is not much you have to do to this long-blooming perennial after it does become established. Deadhead to promote reblooming. Divide in spring if the clump seems to be flagging as the years go by. Happily, coneflowers are deer-resistant perennials.

Other Cultivars

There are too many cultivars even to attempt a complete listing here, but here are some notable examples:

  • E. Crazy Pink has nice pink flowers.
  • E. Kim's Knee High offers floral color that is a more brilliant pink than the prior entry (in spite of the sensationalistic name, Crazy Pink).
  • E. Kim's Mop Head sports clean, white flowers.
  • E. Tangerine Dream is a more basic orange than the Firebird cultivar, which is a more complex reddish-orange.
  • E. Big Sky Sunrise is another choice with yellow flowers.
  • For a double-flowered alternative to Secret Lust, consider the basic pink E. Razzmatazz (truly an unforgettable name).
  • Secret Lust isn't the only type with bicolored blooms. Flame Thrower is a single-flowered kind that has yellow and orange coloration on the same petal.  

Medicinal and Landscaping Uses

If you have ever tasted Echinacea extract (some people put a few drops in a beverage and drink it to ward off colds), then you know it's nasty-tasting stuff. Gardeners are far more interested in the genus for its uses as a cut flower and in landscaping. It can be used in the yard (preferably massed together):