About Purple Coneflower: All the members of the Echinacea genus are native to North America, though they are becoming more rare in the wild. The genus name Echinacea comes from the Greek word for “hedgehog,” referring to the spiny seed head of the flower. Historically, this family of plants has been extensively used by Native American tribes and early settlers because of its beneficial medicinal properties. Echinacea acts as a natural antibiotic, and improves the function of the immune system; it became very popular in the medical field in the early twentieth century, particularly after the extensive researches of the German Dr. Gerhard Madaus. Echinacea is still widely used as an herbal remedy, as well as being a common and well-loved addition to perennial gardens and prairie plantings.
Purple Coneflower Germination: Direct sow in late fall, planting the seeds ¼” deep and lightly compacting the soil. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 30 days before direct sowing; keep the soil consistently moist until germination. Untreated seed can also be direct sown in spring, though the germination rate may be slightly lower. Thin or transplant the seedlings to 15-18” apart.
Growing Purple Coneflower Seeds: Water seedlings until they become established. Unlike most coneflowers, Purple Coneflower does not do well in drought conditions and needs adequate moisture. The area should be well-drained to avoid soggy soil, since this can cause disease. Keep competition to a minimum in the first year of growth, since this plant cannot reach its full potential when crowded by weeds. After several years of growth, mature plants can be divided in late fall. This plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
Harvesting Purple Coneflower: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water.
Saving Purple Coneflower Seeds: After flowering, the central cones of the flowers will develop into a spiky seed head. Since songbirds such as goldfinches love to eat these seeds, they should be harvested as soon as possible to avoid loss. As soon as the seeds easily come loose from the head, cut off the seed heads. Rub them lightly to remove the seed, and store the seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Purple Coneflower Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Eastern Purple Coneflower, Echinacea Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 18-24 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 2a-10b Seeds Per Oz: 6,900 Produces narrow, hairy leaves and 3-4” flower heads with drooping purplish pink petals and a spiny orange center cone.