Echinacea, also known as the cone flower is a native prairie perennial that’s very easy to grow in direct sunlight.
With the right conditions you can enjoy this amazing flower right in your backyard garden. The best part, they bloom every year with little effort.
When I was a little girl my grandmother always had a patch of daisies growing along the fence line. She would say, “They’re not my favorite flowers but they’re perfect for filling in empty spaces.”
I agree with that because they do grow into a nice size plant. I was known to sneak a few blooms, remove the petals one by one saying, he loves me…. he loves me not….
Back then, I’m not sure who I was talking about and little did I know there could be so many varieties of a simple daisy.
Echinacea is grown for a variety of reasons. The most common would be for beautiful flowers and medicinal properties. Harvesting for tea or extract is typical because the plant is a great immune system enhancer.
You may even take echinacea tablets over the winter to keep flu at a distance?
Growing echinacea is possible in zones 3 – 9 which is pretty fantastic. For those of you in colder climates you may want to provide a little winter protection that first planting season as sometimes it takes a while for them to climatize.
Where to Purchase Plants
I found a really neat resource for echinacea plants and seeds at American Meadows. They have some neat varieties!
Also note that you can purchase plants this time of year at a discount from the big box store nurseries.
Many times, after their plants sit on shelves for several weeks, they get moved to clearance racks. They might not look great and that’s okay because echinacea is easy to revive with a little trim, water and the right planting conditions.
Don’t hesitate to begin because there’s plenty of time to enjoy this plant now and perhaps get a modest harvest in the fall.
If starting by seed is of interest then you’ll have to wait for next planting season as seeds should be germinated indoors over the later part of winter.
How to Grow Amazing Echinacea
- Lighting: They love the sun requiring at least 5 hours a day. For a plentiful harvest make sure they have access to sunlight.
- Soil: They can thrive in a variety of soil types, sandy, rocky and clay. However, they don’t like to be over watered and prefer a neutral PH.
- Water Schedule: I have great news for those of us further south, they’re drought tolerant. New plants water once or twice a week to help get established and future growing seasons they’ll need very little water because they’ve been climatized.
- When to Fertilize: Keep it simple and fertilize every spring with mulch. I like to cover the base with natural material like leaves and then follow up with mulch.
- Pruning: Begin with seasonal dead heading during the growing season. This is a matter of removing expired blooms with clippers to encourage new growth. Once fall arrives let it be through winter so the birds can eat. Prior to spring prune back, then clip about half way to inspire new growth for a bushier plant. Seeking good clippers read here.
- Growth Size: This plant loves to branch out as it grows. However, the potential size really depends on the variety. Transplant according to suggested growth at the time of purchase to allow the proper space and consider over the course of a few years you may need to propagate. Mature size can range anywhere from 12 – 36 inches wide and 4 ft. tall.
Echinacea is a wonderful wild flower that really adds amazing color to any large or small garden. It can be perfectly paired with salvia which is another perennial I enjoy growing.
Think about adding echinacea to your garden and use these easy to follow grow tips with very little effort.