If you are looking for a wonderful flower that grows in a wide array of planting zones with little or no help from you then look no further than Echinacea. In this article I am going to share how to grow Echinacea also known as purple coneflower.
How to grow echinacea aka coneflower easily. Echinaceas are a long lived perennial that grow well in a variety of conditions. They make fantastic cut flowers, are drought tolerant while attracting bees and butterflies in droves.
How to Grow Echinacea
Many echinacea are very easy to start from seed. (note: there are many hybrids available now that can only be propagated by root division methods so do your research before buying seeds or only buy from reputable seed companies, I make this warning as I see seeds for the sterile hybrids on Amazon and eBay all the time)
Echinaceas now come in many sizes and colors. If you want to grow echinacea in a variety of colors then seeds are the way to go. I will note below which of the ones I grow are sterile hybrids or if you can grow them from seed.
PowWow Wildberry (photo above) is conveniently available around my area garden centers in the inexpensive 6 packs, you will get blooms the first season. You can also get the seeds and start them yourself, in which case unless you sow them in January you will not get blooms until the following summer. Pow Wow is a shorter variety growing to a height of 20 to 24″. This one also comes in white.
Botanical Interests carries Pow Wow Echinacea seeds.
Summer Sky or Katie Saul Echinacea
Summer Sky (also known as Katie Saul) is part of the Big Sky series of Echinaceas available via Proven Winners. It is a hybrid that will not grow from seed. You need to buy the plant. I love the soft peach color and they have a light scent.
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White Swan Echinacea
White Swan is a mid size growing Echinacea. It will get up to 3 feet tall. This is one that will reseed itself given the right conditions and gives an elegant spark of white in the garden when most of your daisies are done (mine did reseed but a good portion of them came up pink, I suppose they cross pollinated with the pink/purple ones in my garden). Deadheading encourages more blooms. At the end of the season you can let the last blooms go to seed, the birds will love you all winter for providing food for them.
White Swan is also available via Botanical Interests
Tomato Soup is a hybrid developed by Terra Nova nurseries. It truly has the color of its name. One thing I have found with the hybrids like Tomato Soup, they are not as tough or prolific for me as the basic varieties but they are fun to have. Hybrids like this one only can be propagated by root division, basal cuttings or tissue culture. I will do a post another time on how I divide Echinaceas and when.
I am only telling you this so you know that if you want easy, peasy Echinaceas for your cottage garden start with the ones you can grow from seed. That has just been my personal experience, it may vary with others.
I enjoy flowers planted in abundant drifts. They just have more impact than a single plant and it attracts pollinators better. So the better a plant fills out and spreads (mannerly and not be a plant bully) the easier it is to get a gorgeous garden filled with carefree flowers that choke out weeds thus lessening your work.
Purple Coneflower grow to nearly 4 feet so plant them where they won’t block the view of other lower growing flowers. They like full sun but will tolerate some afternoon shade.
- Start seeds indoors in January or direct sow in garden 2 weeks before first frost date. (You can continue to direct sow in summer but you will not get flowers until the following summer)
- Sow 1/2″ deep in rich, well drained soil. Full sun or part shade. It will take 10 – 20 days to germinate.
- Water well until established then it can tolerate drought.
- Pick or dead head regularly for optimum bloom. In the Fall let last blooms of season go to seed for bird food and to reseed themselves. Or gather them up yourself and seed other spots in the garden, they will snuggle down for the winter and sprout come warmer weather.
- To avoid issues with fungus or other plant diseases do not water from above, only at the roots. (I love soaker hoses like these)
- To plant a potted Echinacea, dig the hole as deep as the soil level in pot, loosen soil in bottom of planting hole, pop the plant out of the pot and place in hole and replace soil, do not bury plant deeper than it was in the pot. Add some compost and/or mulch around base (not touching plant) to suppress weeds and condition soil.
- Echinaceas have deep tap roots and don’t seem to like being dug up and divided. Root divisions are easily taken from the side of the root base but avoid digging up and dividing root ball. I have had to dig some up and move them but only succeeded in Fall and they were rather slow to get going again.
Seed packets will have more planting and growing directions.
Want Sunny colored Echinaceas?
A nice array of oranges, creams, yellows and scarlets come in Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea seed mix. They have them at Park Seeds. I have not personally grown any of these so I cannot say how well they perform but they are on my list to try. If you have grown them please pop in and let me know how they performed for you.
Update: I just bought a potted Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea and am growing it now. I LOVE it so far.
I am more convinced than ever to get seeds to grow echinacea like this one in different colors.
Are you ready to try to grow Coneflowers aka Echinaceas?
Have you heard of the new cross between Echinaceas and Rudbeckias called Echibeckia. I am anxious to see how that works out.
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