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Echinacea Guide: Planting, Pruning and Caring for Coneflowers

Echinacea is an easy-to-grow plant that will add a pretty pop of color to any space. Not only is this plant pollinator-friendly, but it makes for a beautiful cut flower too! Here’s how to plant, prune, and care for coneflowers. 

The Ultimate Echinacea Guide

Echinacea has a very special place in my heart and my garden. There’s so much to love about these gorgeous spiky flowers. They are drought tolerant and won’t complain about poor soil.

They are extremely low maintenance once established and produce a ton of eye candy that brings an added pop of color to the garden.

Echinacea also make wonderful cut flowers, attractive pollinator plants, are an important food source for birds in the winter, and they have medicinal properties to help us build our immunity.

With all these wonderful benefits, echinacea surely deserves a permanent spot in your garden!

Growing Echinacea

Coneflowers are very low maintenance once they are established. Here are a few things you can do to get them started off right.

Light

Pick a location with the brightest light that you have. Echinacea loves bright light and thrives in full sun. The plants will tolerate partial sun as well and still produce plenty of flowers.

I have a lot of shade in my garden and I try to pop in as many coneflowers as I can anyway. They still bloom in the shade but are less floriferous and can tend to flop over.

echinacea in the garden

Watering

Echinacea are also very easy going when it comes to watering. Water them well to establish new plants in the garden and encourage deep roots. Once established, they won’t need any supplemental watering unless you are in periods of extreme drought.

Fertilization

Coneflowers don’t need any special fertilizers throughout the year. Plant them with some well-rotted compost and then add compost again in the spring.

Follow your normal soil building strategies and you won’t have to add any supplemental nutrition for the plants.

Propagation

Echinacea grow a long taproot which helps them suck up water from deep down in the soil and give them that hardiness. This taproot also means that they aren’t a good perennial to divide.

Allow the plants to clump and if you want to plant more start them from seed, cuttings, or grab a new transplant.

Pruning

These low-maintenance plants don’t need pruning throughout the year, but you can prune them to increase blooms and extend bloom time.

Echinacea are already quite a long-blooming plant starting in midsummer and going all the way into the mid fall in my Zone 7 garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a large space with a collection of plants, you can really extend the bloom time by cutting back some of the plants in midsummer.

Cutting back the plants delays blooming so you can either cut back all your plants for a late summer and fall display, or only cut back some of the plants and stagger the bloom times for an even longer season. Fiskars makes some wonderful pruners that come in handy and cut through the thick stems with very little effort.

pruners for coneflower

Coneflower Varieties

There are so many hybrid varieties of Echinacea now available. This ornamental seems to be a favorite of breeders as new coneflowers are popping up every year.

New varieties are being introduced every year that have new or brighter colors, taller or smaller plants, different growing habits, more prolific blooming, and double blooms.

coneflower varieties in red, yellow, and pink

Here are a few new varieties to look out for in garden centers next year. I was able to see these in person this year through tours and garden trials and I really love how they have performed.

bouquet of various echinacea

Should I Deadhead Coneflowers?

If you want to increase the size of newer forming bloos, you can deadhead Echinacea. If you follow the stem down to the first set of leaves you might see flower buds forming.

pink coneflowers blooming

This is a perfect time to go in and remove the flower above. Cut the stem right above the new flower growth and you can add the bloom to a flower arrangement.

Deadheading is simply cutting off the older flowers, which encourages the plant to put energy into producing the newer flowers rather than producing seeds on the old flower. Learn more about deadheading flowers here.

pruning echinacea

When the second wave of flowers blooms, I keep them in place for fall and winter as the birds LOVE to snack on the seeds. The seed heads dry with a spiky cone above a tall stem. I dry the cut flowers for their seed heads to use in crafts and leave the rest in the garden for winter interest.

When do Coneflowers Bloom?

Coneflowers will bring plenty of joy to your summer and early fall garden. They bloom from July through September.

Medicinal Uses for Echinacea

Echinacea has been used medicinally throughout the ages. The following information is from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.

Echinacea pallida and E. angustifolia are primarily wild Echinacea that can be found on the edges of wooded areas. The most common and easy-to-grow Echinacea for gardens is E. purpurea.

These three varieties are most commonly used as medicinal plants. The roots, leaves, and flowers all have healing properties. Echinacea is a powerful immune-system booster that has no side effects and is safe for children, the elderly, and everyone in between.

red echinacea

How to Use Coneflowers

To use Echinacea as a medicinal plant from your garden, ensure that you are growing an organic plant that has not been sprayed or treated with pesticides or herbicides.

The leaves and flowers can be infused into tea and dried for the winter months. Plus, the entire plant can be used to make a tincture that’s handy to have around in cold-and-flu season.

Take frequently in small doses at the first sign of a virus, but stop taking it once you get better as its effectiveness wanes if it’s used too frequently.

close up of pink coneflower

More Flowers to Grow:

Comments

  1. Excited to grow these behind our garage! Lots of sunlight and currently a dead space that we were wondering what to do with. There are mean jungle weeds and old bamboo that keep coming back in this space so I will need to keep up on it to help the flowers flourish, but it’s worth a shot. Love the idea of having my own echinacea to dry for the colder months!

    Reply
  2. new to your blog but LOVE everything so far. my first pair of garden clips were fiskars. i wore them out i loved them so much.

    Reply
  3. Love Echinacea! I have light pink, dark pink, and the Cherokee that began as mixed colors turned all yellow this year. No matter, the bees & butterflies love them too! I have a large perennial garden plus more acreage that always needs pruning here & there – would love to win the Fiskars PowerGear2 pruners.

    Reply

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