I hope you’re prepared to fall head over heels for this perennial. Echinacea, also called Coneflower, is one of my favorite flowers to grow in the garden. Coneflowers thrive in zones 3-9 and you can find them in shades of purple, pink, and yellow.
They’re one of the few flowers I can count on to make it through our hot Summers here in Zone 9b!
I love Echinacea for its petals that point downward and their large yellow-brown centers. They’re truly a sight to see in the yard, especially when grown in clumps. They’ll bloom throughout the Summer and into early Fall.
What makes this flower a true garden gem is its low-maintenance nature. Coneflowers really don’t need that much from you. They are so easy to care for, in fact, that’s it’s one of the best plants for gardening beginners.
Echinicae aka Coneflower is a Low-Maintenance Perennials
Echinacea is NOT fussy about soil and once established, it can withstand periods of drought.
Better yet, the tiny seeds that grow on the cone provide food for beautiful goldfinches that love to feast on them come Fall and Winter.
Echinacea brings beneficial insects to the garden, too, including bees and soldier beetles, so this perennial (also grown as an annual) benefits the environment as well as the home gardener.
Plus, if you grow Echinacea from organic seeds or purchase organic plants, you can use the flower for medicinal purposes. It’s actually famous for its medicinal properties.
How to Plant Echinacea Coneflowers
Planting is easy. If you want to grow the Echinacea from seed, my How to Start Seeds post will take you step-by-step through seed starting. You’ll want to do this indoors weeks before your zone’s last frost date to get a head start on your Summer blooms. Or, you can plant directly into the ground after frost clears.
Please know that growing Coneflowers from seed takes patience. Since it’s a perennial, it can take more than one year before your plants will bloom.
If you’re buying potted plants from your local garden center, however, follow the steps below.
When you purchase potted plants, they’ll probably already have a few blooms on plus a few visible forming buds, which start off green, and then change color as they start to bloom.
Here’s how you should plant your potted Echinacea plants:
- Choose a planting spot that gets about 6 hours of full sun each day.
- You’ll need to plant each container a few feet away from each other. This plant spreads and will need plenty of air circulation to avoid disease.
- Dig a hole that’s as deep as the container and twice as wide.
- Make sure the base of the plant is level with the soil surface, then place more soil into the hole to cover it entirely.
- Water the soil deeply.
- You can place mulch around the plant to help seal in moisture
That’s it! That’s all you need to plant coneflowers. Pretty simple, right? Now onto plant care. The steps below will walk you through how to care for coneflowers after you get them into the ground.
Watering Coneflower Plants
Coneflowers can tolerate dry soil, so this is not a plant that needs to remain moist at all times. Here’s something I want to stress: water the soil of your coneflower plants, NOT the foliage! Overhead watering can actually kill your plants over time. In fact, it can kill them quickly.
Overhead watering wets the leaves and blooms of your plant, which can lead rot and gray mold. This fungus will make the foliage turn black and moldy – and you will notice the difference very quickly!
Unfortunately, once it takes over your plant, there’s really nothing you can do to revive your plant. If you don’t dig it out of its planting spot, the disease can spread through the soil and onto your other plants.
Here’s a photo of a Coneflower I lost to overwatering. See its shriveled foliage? It used to be a deep, vibrant green. Unfortunately, I planted it too close to a sprinkler that splashed water onto it every single morning. That was a lesson I learned the hard way!
Because our Summers are so brutal, I made the mistake of thinking the plant needed a lot of moisture every day. I definitely should not have planted it close to a sprinkler.
My advice to you is to keep a watchful eye on your Echinacea plants. Make sure the soil is always well-drained and see how it performs to being watered everyday during the Summer vs only when the soil feels dry.
If watering every few days works well for your plant, then continue doing that. If it needs water more often, do that, but remember to water the soil, not the leaves.
Echinacea is one of the easiest flowers to prune. In fact, you don’t actually have to prune this plant if you don’t want to. You can simply leave the dead flowers to die back on their own and let the birds enjoy the seeds in the Fall.
But if you’d like to encourage new blooms or you just prefer a tidier look in your garden, then you can deadhead the flowers. To do this, you’ll need to observe the stems.
Echinacea is a prolific bloomer. It starts to bloom in June and can keep producing blooms through Autumn. You’ll notice that a single stem can produce several buds that’ll flower.
If you have a flower blooming and notice that the stem is forming new buds along that stem, take clean pruning shears and snip off the dead flower bloom just above the new bud.
This will give the plant the chance to put its energy towards new buds.
Deadheading your spent blooms can definitely give your garden a tidier appearance, but you might want to consider leaving your plant alone for three reasons:
- Seeds from the plant’s center feed Goldfinch birds during the Fall
- The cone attracts Soldier Beetles that are beneficial to the garden
- Deadheading prevents the plant from self-seeding
Since Echinacea is a prolific self-seeder, you lose out on that benefit if you deadhead the blooms and discard. Self-seeding is definitely a cost-effective way to get more plants out of a single purchase, so I try to leave as many spent blooms on the stem as I can.
Diseases that Affect Coneflowers
As easy as Coneflowers are to care for, they can still fall prey to a few diseases if you’re not careful. These diseases are, however, easy to prevent.
As stated above, overhead watering is determinantal to this plant. Wet foliage can lead to mold and fungus, so aim to keep the leaves dry by watering the soil only, and never ever overwater.
Always remember that this plant is drought-tolerant, so it doesn’t need to remain moist at all times.
Some of the most common diseases and pests that afflict Coneflowers are grey mold aka Botrytis, Powdery Mildew, and Japanese Bettles.
If you keep a watchful eye on your Coneflowers and ensure that they have plenty of air circulation by not overcrowding them with other plants, then you’ll be giving them a good chance at staying healthy.
I hope this post inspires you to grow your own Echinacea plants! Trust me when I say that a garden full of Purple Coneflowers is a sight to see! They’re a wonderful addition to gardens.
If you enjoy working with perennials, I think you’ll love looking through my post of 18 Low-Maintenance Perennials and 12 Perennials Perfect for Shade Gardens.
Or, if you love a good mix of annuals and perennials, you should definitely read my list of 16 Annuals that Bloom ALL Summer and into Fall. I think a combo of annuals and perennials in a landscape is a winning one!