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Purple Coneflower: Plant Care & Growing Guide

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    How to Grow Purple Coneflower

    Coneflowers are prairie plants par excellence. Native to eastern North America, they are hardy, drought-tolerant, long-flowering, and grown in an ever-expanding range of colors. It is difficult to find a garden without at least one variety of flowers.

    Best planted in early spring (after the last frost), coneflowers will germinate in about three to four weeks and produce leaves in three months, but it can take up to two years to produce flowers.

    Purple coneflower, or Echinacea purpurea, is by far the most popular variety of coneflower. It has a fibrous root system rather than the long taproot and woody crown found in other native species, making it more adaptable to garden conditions and more tolerant of division and transplantation.

    The daisy-like branches of echinacea are composed of several small flowers, with sterile petals to attract insects to the many fertile flowers of the central disk or cone. These flowers are rich in nectar and very popular with bees and butterflies. Hummingbirds like coneflowers too, and birds like finches eat (and spread) the seeds.

    Botanical NameEchinacea purpurea
    Common NamePurple coneflower
    Plant TypeHerbaceous perennial
    Mature Size2–5 ft. tall, 1–2 ft. wide
    Sun ExposureFull sun, partial shade
    Soil TypeWell-drained
    Soil pHNeutral to acidic
    Bloom TimeSummer
    Flower ColorPurple, pink
    Hardiness Zones3-8 (USDA)
    Native AreaNorth America
    ToxicityNon-toxic

    Purple Coneflower Care 

    Purple coneflowers grow well anywhere in USDA hardiness zones three through nine, but in cooler climates, you may want to give them some winter protection for the first year. However, once established, coneflowers are tough and hardy.

    Coneflowers grow well from seed and can divide to form new plants. They can also be grown from stem cuttings, but generally with less success. They are easily found at garden centers and can also be purchased by mail order.

    Coneflowers begin to bloom in early summer and will repeat blooming during the first frost. They may take a break after the initial flowering period, but more flower buds will grow quickly.

    Light

    For the most flowers (and the strongest plants), plant your purple flowers in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. The plants tolerate partial shade, but they may eventually fall off and the flowers won't be as prolific.

    Soil

    Coneflowers grow best in a garden that has a neutral pH of about 6.5 to 7.0 in the soil. They can thrive in a variety of soil types, including sandy, rocky, and clay soils. However, they do not like wet or dirty soil. For best results, add a little compost to your mix when planting to get your coneflowers off to a good start.

    Water

    Coneflowers are often listed as drought-tolerant plants, but they actually do much better with regular watering. Water them daily right after planting, then transition to an inch of water per week for the remainder of the plant's first year of life. Second-year and older plants may only need watering during droughts.

    Temperature and humidity

    As a native prairie plant, the purple coneflower thrives in hot, dry climates, but can handle a variety of fluctuations in temperature and humidity. However, they do not work as well in very humid climates or in rainy areas where the soil remains moist.

    Fertilizer

    Although coneflowers grow best in soils rich in organic matter, many supplemental fertilizers can lengthen them. Adding compost each spring usually gives them the nutrition they need for healthy foliage and flowers.

    Pruning Purple Coneflower

    Pruning purple echinacea is helpful, but not required. You can leave the plants to rest during the winter months to feed the birds, and cutting them in the spring will result in bushier plants that bloom longer in the season.

    That said, the deadhead is the main maintenance of coneflowers. They are prolific and blooming (removing dead flowers from live plants) will keep them in bloom all summer.

    The flowers begin to bloom from the top of the stem and each flower remains in bloom for several weeks. As the initial flower fades, more side shoots and buds form along the stem. Keep the plants headless and you will continue to receive more flowers. The process will also help avoid an overabundance of self-seeding plants.

    How to Grow Purple Coneflower From Seed

    Purple coneflowers are relatively easy to grow from seed. If you want to store the seed, wait until the cone is completely dry; it should be darker and harder to the touch. The seeds are attached to the sharp spines, so you'll want to wear gloves and separate the seeds from the cone. Spread them out on a paper plate or canvas to dry completely before storing them.

    Seeds germinate best with some cold stratification. The simplest method is to sow them outdoors in the fall, either in the ground or in winter, sowing them in milk jars. If you're starting to sow indoors, simulate the cool-down period by planting seeds in a damp seed mix and placing the sealed container in the refrigerator for eight to 10 weeks.

    Then remove them and plant them normally. The seeds need darkness to germinate, so plant them half an inch deep and cover them with soil. They should germinate in 10 to 14 days. Place the seeds under the grow lights that are about an inch or two above the plant as the seedlings emerge.

    Common Pests/Diseases

    Most of the time, coneflowers have few problems. As long as the plants have enough space for good air circulation, they should not be disturbed by fungal diseases. If you see mold or stains on the leaves, simply cut them out and let them fill in on their own. Some pests like coneflowers, so keep an eye out for Japanese beetles, vine weevils, and leafhoppers.

    Also watch out for yellow asters, a systemic plant disease that causes deformities in flower growth. It can affect hundreds of different flowers, not just the Aster family. There is no known cure and it is spread by sap-sucking insects like leafhoppers, so affected plants should be removed and destroyed as soon as possible to protect other nearby plants.

    Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Complete Guide to Purple Coneflower

    Source: Growit Buildit

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