Known for their pretty colors, their ability to attract butterflies and bees into your garden, and being easy to grow and care for, coneflowers are a staple plant in many gardens. These eye-catching blooms make for excellent garden perennials.
If you’ve ever wanted to plant these to decorate the landscape of your home or to bring new life to your tablescapes, then this is for you.
Today, we’ll be talking about coneflowers and how you can grow and take care of them. Let’s get started!
What Are Coneflowers
Coneflowers are perennial plans that belong to the genus Echinacea. They are herbaceous flowering plants that are related to daisies. They are found only in eastern and central North America, where they grow in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming in summer.
They get their name from the Greek word “ekhinos” meaning “sea urchin”, due to the spiny central disk.
These flowering plants and their parts have different uses. Some species are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. Echinacea purpurea is used in traditional medicine.
Coneflowers are known for being hardy plants. They are extremely drought-tolerant and rugged when they’re established. They can also survive in almost any type of soil.
How to Plant Coneflowers
When choosing a planting site for coneflowers, keep in mind that they prefer well-drained soil and full sun as these allow them to bloom their best.
While they can be tolerant of poor soil conditions, they perform best if the soil you plant them in is rich in organic matter.
Before planting coneflowers, it’s best to loosen the soil in the area where they will live. Use a garden fork or a tiller and mix in 2 to 4 inches of rich compost.
Planting Small Young Coneflowers
You can get small coneflower plants at your local nursery that you can then transplant in the ground. You can also divide existing cone flowers to propagate them around your garden. When planting, give them a space of 1 to 3 feet apart depending on the mature size of the variety you’re planting.
When transplanting a potted plant into the ground, place it in a hole about double the diameter of the original container. Place the plant in the soil and cover with soil up to the top of the root ball. Water thoroughly.
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Planting from Seed
Coneflowers are generally easy to grow from seed. It’s best to start them outdoors in the fall in the ground or you can winter sow them in a container. You can also start seed indoors by planting seeds in a damp seed starting mix in a sealed container and then placing it in the refrigerator for 8-10 weeks.
The seeds need the dark to germinate, so plant about 1/4 inch deep and cover with soil. They should germinate within 10 to 14 days. Place under lights an inch or two above the plant when seedlings emerge.
Caring for Coneflowers
Coneflowers bloom their best and become sturdy when they’re exposed to six to eight hours of full sun every day. They can tolerate partial shade but the flowers won’t be as bountiful when they start to blossom. The plant will also not be as robust.
They can thrive in a wide variety of soil types including sandy, rocky, and clay soils but they thrive best in rich soil. They also prefer a neutral soil pH of 6.5 to 7.0.
Coneflowers are drought tolerant so they can survive without much water once they’re established. If you’ve just planted them, it’s best to water them daily for a while then you can transition to an inch of water per week
As a native prairie plant, echinacea thrives in hot, dry climates but can handle a range of temperature and humidity fluctuations. They do not do as well in very humid climates or in rainy areas where the soil stays wet.
Too much supplemental fertilizer can make coneflower plants leggy. While they thrive best in soil that is rich in organic matter, adding compost in the spring is enough to feed them throughout the growing season.
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Coneflowers are prolific bloomers.
To keep them in bloom all summer, remove dead flowers. This promotes side shoots and buds to form along the stem.
That way, you can keep getting flowers throughout the summer.
Common Problems of Coneflowers
Coneflowers can be virtually problem-free as long as they have plenty of room to grow and good air circulation. They are deer-resistant but some pests do enjoy munching on them like Japanese beetles, vine weevils, and leaf hoppers.
Fungal diseases aren’t usually a problem but if you see mildew or spots forming, cut them back and let the plant grow out on its own. Don’t forget to dispose of the affected plant away from your garden to avoid spreading fungal disease to your other plants.
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