How to Grow Series
Echinacea are hardy, summer blooming, perennials, native to North America, that are easy to grow as well as beautiful to look at. Most will grow in zones 3-8, depending on variety. They thrive in average soil with regular water, but can tolerate drought once established in the garden. You will get the biggest blooms if grown in full sun, but Echinacea can tolerate partial shade as well. Echinacea are common in cottage style gardens and the butterflies love them. Since they have long tap roots, they can withstand some periods of drought, but plants will be stronger, showier and taller with regular water. Coneflowers also make excellent cut flowers for bouquets and can be dried as well.
Echinacea is one perennial that rarely needs dividing and can spread moderately by seed. Seeds need a 6 week period of cold before they will sprout, which makes Echinacea a perfect candidate for winter sowing. In fact my hardiest, most robust plants in the garden were winter sown and not plants transplanted from the garden center. Read more about winter sowing here.
I have found that the older purple, white and yellow varieties are hardier in my zone 5 garden and will usually come true from seed. Any of the new hybrid varieties don't seem to last more than a few years in my garden and when they reseed, they do not look like the original plant.
Allow the flower heads to form seeds as the birds love them. A small group of finches can strip the heads in just a few short hours and they are so much fun to watch. The seed heads also look pretty in the winter with snow on them when there is not much else going on in the garden.
Some of my favorite echinacea varieties are as follows:
- Echinacea 'Magnus' - Hardy in zones 3-8, grows 3-4 feet tall with a spread of 1-2 feet, lavender extra-large flowers.
- Echinacea Purpurea - Hardy in zones 3-9, grows 2-3 feet tall with a spread of 1-2 feet, lavender pink (Most common old fashioned variety).
- Echinacea Paradoxa - Hardy in zones 4-9, grows 2 feet tall with a spread of 1-2 feet, yellow drooping pedals with a brown center.
- Echinacea 'White Swan' - Hardy in zones 4-9, grows 2 feet tall with a spread of 1-2 feet, white relaxed petals with a golden center.
There are dozens of varieties out there, so take a trip to your local garden center and see what might grow well in your garden.