The ever-popular purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is native to – well, sources vary. Some say to the prairies of the Midwest, where it was discovered and brought to the East by Lewis and Clark. And some very reputable sources have studied its origin and believe it’s native to Maryland.
‘Magnus’ is a very popular cultivar, which I’ve grown successfully from seed (and I’m no genius at propagation). ‘White Swan’ is another one that’s tough and beautiful. Butterflies love them, as do finches, so I leave their seedheads up until March.
- Hardy to Zones 3-9.
- Typically has purple flowers but many other shades have been developed, like white and yellow.
- They range from 2 to 4 feet tall usually (some are as tall as 6 feet).
- Bloom mid-summer, with the possibility of reblooming until frost if the dead flowers are removed.
- Full sun is best. Dappled shade is okay.
- Average soil is preferable to rich organic soil, which can cause flopping.
- Self-sows freely (with some experts guestimating that the germination rate approaches 100 percent.)
- Deadhead if reblooms are desired. After that second bloom, leave them standing for the finches.
- If you prefer shorter stems that don’t flop over, cut them back by half in the spring when they reach 2 feet tall. (This will delay the bloom by at least a week.) I do this and like the result.
- They can also be pinched to reduce flopping (pinching is removing the new buds).
- Drought tolerant.
- No dividing is needed.
by Susan Harris