Growing Echinacea: How To Care For The Coneflower Plant

The Coneflower an attractive, daisy-like perennial native to North America and highly prized as a medicinal herb.

In fact, the purple coneflower, botanically Echinacea purpurea (a popular natural immune booster), where every part of the plant can be used in one form of home remedy or another.

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Not only popular and valuable in promoting good health, but they make beautiful additions to your perennial garden. These cheery, drought-resistant plants bloom from the middle of summer and well into the fall. They perform well in a broad range of settings and hardy in zones 3 through 9.

Purple Cone Flower – Do They Come In Other Colors?

Coneflowers come in a variety of different shades including:

  • White
  • Pink
  • Rose
  • Purple
  • Orange – a recent newly developed variety

With so many beautiful colors and varieties, you can easily create an attractive and varied garden with only the coneflower! Plants range in height from one to three feet tall with many attractive varieties.

How To Grow Coneflowers

Coneflowers self-seed and multiply readily making them easy to grow and care for. They don’t require much water and actually prefer drier soil.

They make great cut flowers for the table and excellent additions to herbal concoctions. Butterflies and bees love their pollen and they attract beneficial garden insects like soldier beetles. If deer visit your garden you’ll be happy to know coneflowers don’t attract them.

Since Echinacea comes in so many beautiful colors, it’s easy to see how to create a very eye-catching natural perennial flower bed completely deer proof.

How To Choose & Prepare The Right Location

Purple and red coneflowers prefer a bright, full sun, loose and well-tilled soil that drains well. They can also tolerate light shade, but full sun is best and also produces the most beautiful appearance.

Once you’ve selected a good spot, prepare the soil well by turning it with a garden fork or using a tiller. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15 inches. Once your soil is turned and loose, add 2-4 inches of compost.

When you’re ready to plant, be sure to dig an ample size hole for setting your seedlings. It should be at least twice the size of the diameter of the pot.

Treat the plant gently when removing it from its container. Place it in the hole with the root ball even with the surrounding soil.

Fill in the area around the root ball with soil, firm it gently and give your new plant a thorough watering.

Caring For Established Cone Flowers

Early in springtime, spread an inch or so of compost around your plants. Follow this up with a couple of inches of mulch. This will help feed your plants in a consistent manner throughout the growing season. Mulch will hold moisture in the soil while also discouraging the growth of weeds.

As the season progresses, be sure to deadhead your coneflowers frequently. When you remove the spent flowers on a regular basis, expect your plants to continue producing flowers late into the fall.

At the end of the growing season, leave the final flowers in place so that your plants will naturally reseed themselves.

As a bonus, by leaving your last bunch of coneflowers standing for the wintertime you provide much-needed food for hungry birds. Goldfinch and chickadees especially appreciate coneflower seeds, and their presence keeps your garden cheerful and bright during the cold winter months.

Coneflower Companions

While possible to create a varied, attractive and interesting all-coneflower garden, these hardy survivors mingle nicely with a wide variety of both domestic and wildflowers.

Echinacea a relative to Black-Eyed Susans, they do well intermixed and with other varieties of wildflowers. They also hold their own in terms of attractiveness and interest when planted with typical bedding flowers such as iris, daylilies and roses.

Avoid Overcrowding

Coneflowers will need dividing from time-to-time. As a general rule, every three or four years should be ample. Dividing them more often than that may be damaging to their root systems.

Examine new growth in the springtime. When you see plants becoming crowded, lift them out carefully and divide them before applying annual compost and mulch.

When applying compost, do not overdo it. Coneflowers actually do best with less rich soil. It is important to keep the soil well-tilled and not compacted. The soil should always drain well to help prevent root rot.

Take care to manage your coneflowers carefully because; even though they are not considered invasive, they are aggressive. They self-sow quite prolifically and can quickly take over your garden.

What’s the Best Way to Propagate Cone Flowers?

As mentioned, coneflowers sow their own seeds quite abundantly and propagate themselves with great ease. You can also share your plants with your friends and fellow gardeners as cuttings or when you divide them every few years.

PlantDelights.com has an excellent article on Echinacea and shares these tips on propagating…

New plants can be propagated by dividing established clumps. Dig around the clump, carefully lift it, and shake or wash off the soil. You should be able to divide the crown by hand but you may need a knife.

There will be several rooted plants in each clump. Pull them apart and replant immediately. Remember that most of the new hybrids are patented, making their propagation illegal, although no one is going to mind if you divide plants for your own use.

It is also possible to propagate Echinacea using basal stem cuttings. Take 4″ to 6″ cuttings in the spring and treat with 1000ppm powdered IBA. All commercial hybrids are propagated via tissue culture using axillary buds, stem cuttings, or individual cells. Via plantdelights.com

New Options In Coneflowers

Other modern varieties in coneflowers include fluffy, double petaled versions, light lemon yellow varieties and all new blazing orange shades. These plants really standout in your perennial and/or herb garden as they grow between two and four feet high and cut a striking figure.