Echinacea: Long-lasting, Vibrant Color

The Coneflower, or Echinacea, is a delightful addition to every backyard garden with bright, colorful flowers that last ages in the garden and make an excellent cut flower. 

Plant your Echinacea in full sun and a neutral pH soil for best results. She needs lots of sunshine to explode into tall stems of darkly colored cones offset by brightly colored petals, resembling rays of sunshine. Originally grown in only shades of pinkish-purple, Echinacea can now be found in yellows, purples, whites and even bi-colored varieties! 

Grow Echinacea Everywhere

Echinacea is a perfect addition for every type of garden: formal, wild and free, or cottage. Tuck her in among the roses, ornamental grasses, or even annuals for a bright cheerful display of color. Just make sure she won’t be shaded out by taller plants nearby as she needs at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. 

This pretty perennial will also draw lots of birds to your yard as the spent blooms produce nature’s own birdseed. Prune back blooms in the spring, to encourage regrowth, but avoid snipping spent blooms in the fall so smaller birds can visit for a tasty treat. This will increase the natural ecosystem of your garden and provide some fun bird watching opportunities! 

Planting and Care

Echinacea performs best when planted in spring or fall. When planting, dig a hole twice as wide as the nursery pot, add in small handfuls of compost to the hole and mix. Place the plant into the hole, ensuring the root ball is in line with the soil level. Water till a large puddle forms and let it slowly soak in. Water well for the first week to help your plant send its roots deep and become well established. Coneflowers are generally drought tolerant, but can use some extra water during hot spells. Remember though that Echinacea does not like to have wet feet, so avoid leaving her in standing water.

There is no need to fertilize this perennial plant throughout the year, as over fertilization can actually cause the plant to slow down flower production and become quite leggy. She will do fine with just the small bit of compost you mixed in at planting.

Pruning Coneflowers isn’t necessary, but you can cut back the stalks to the ground when the growing season is complete for a tidy look. You may also leave the dried cones in winter to draw more birds to your garden in the colder months. These flowers will self-seed each year but do not expect these new seedlings to be duplicates of the parent plant if they are from a hybrid plant. To duplicate the original variety, use a sharp spade to dig and divide your Echinacea clump and replant in a new sunny location.

Three favorites for us this season are: Green Twister, Pow Wow White, and Magnus.