Echinacea or coneflower is one of the well-known flowers in the south. It is a drought and heat- tolerant flowering plant with brightly-colored petals. It also attracts a wide range of flying pollinators and tiny birds, making it a must-have in the garden.
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Why Grow Echinacea in the garden?
The main reason for having Echinacea in your garden is aesthetics. Echinacea is a beautiful flower with hot pink petals, which sometimes come in an off-white color too. It blooms prolifically up until the first frost if you keep up with the deadheading.
The second reason for growing Echinacea is attracting pollinators and wildlife to the garden. The young flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Once the flower is spent, the seed head turns into natural bird feeders.
Echinacea is also a medicinal plant; flowers, leaves, and roots are used to relieve headaches, sore throat, and colds. It is also known as an immune system booster.
How to grow Echinacea?
Echinacea is one of the easiest plants to grow in Austin, Texas, and all southern regions. If you are patient enough, you can grow it from seed, but it will take a year before the plant starts blooming. However, it is readily available in nurseries and garden centers.
How to grow Echinacea from seed?
You can start echinacea seed any time of the year, but the best would be in the fall to give the young plant a chance to establish its root system before transplanting in spring.
- Use clean seed starting cells filled with premoistened seed starting soil.
- Place one to two seeds in each cell.
- Insert them twice their size deeper in the soil, then cover them.
- Water lightly.
- Keep them in a well-lit window-sill or under grow-light.
- It will take between a week or two for the seed to germinate. Make sure to keep the soil moist.
Once the plants develop two sets of true leaves, you may transfer them to a bigger container. The Echinacea plant is not a fast grower in its early stages. For the first two years, it concentrates its energy on developing its root system.
When to plant echinacea seedlings in the ground?
Echinacea is a warm-season flower. Plant it out in the spring to grow all summer long. However, young plants will not bloom in the first year. You may be even disappointed to notice very little growth. Not to worry, though, Echinacea is a tough plant. It dies back in the cold winter and comes back in the spring with more vigor.
The common thought is that Echinacea is not a hardy plant. However, after the big winter storm of 2021 that devastated Texas, Echinacea was among the plants that made a strong comeback the following spring.
What are the best conditions for Echinacea to grow?
Echinacea grows best in a full sun location in well-draining soil. It is very drought-tolerant, requiring only one inch of water a week. Give the plant enough space for better air circulation. One foot between each plant should do the job.
Is Echinacea a perennial?
Yes, Echinacea is a perennial plant that dies back in the winter and comes back the following spring. First, always cut back the spent foliage and flower to prevent any fungal diseases from developing. Then, mulch the plant with some compost and leave it alone for the winter.
Can I grow Echinacea in pots?
The upright plant with cheerful flowers makes a great centerpiece or thriller in a flower pot arrangement. The latter should be no less than five gallons in size. If planting it alone, you can use a two-gallon pot to ensure plenty of space for the root ball to grow.
How to propagate Echinacea?
Coneflower reseeds itself, but the root system of a mature plant also multiplies under the right conditions. Therefore, separate your echinacea root ball every two to three years of growth. The best time to do so is in the fall to give the plant a resting time to replenish during the cool season. You can also grow more plants by starting seeds, as mentioned above.
Do animals eat coneflower plants?
Common garden pests are squirrels, rabbits, and deer. Echinacea is listed as a deer-resistant plant for its thorny stems and scent are disagreeable to deer. On the other hand, Rabbits may devour young plants’ leaves but won’t uproot them. Squirrels sometimes enjoy nibbling on the petals; that does not kill the plant.
What is Echinacea used for?
Echinacea tea is used to relieve headaches and cold symptoms. In addition, it is considered to contain immune-boosting properties. However, consuming Echinacea may cause side effects in some people, so make sure to consult your doctor before using it.
To make echinacea tea, steep two fresh flowers or one dried flower in one cup of boiling water. Allow brewing for five minutes and strain before drinking.