monarch butterfly on an echinacea flower

Echinacea Growing And Care Guide

Echinacea is a lovely herb that produces beautiful, cone-like purple flowers. It’s also commonly used in herbal remedies and is often found in teas. Have you ever considered growing Echinacea? It really isn’t hard! Growing up in the midwest, we had tons of Echinacea growing in our yard. It continues to be one of my absolute favorite flowers.

What is Echinacea?

Echinacea is a flowering perennial herb native to the midwest of North America that is sometimes used as a dietary supplement to help treat the common cold and other types of infections. It is said to be good for the human body’s immune system. Some quick facts about this hardy herb:

Advertisement
  • Latin name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Other names: Coneflower
  • Native to: Midwestern North America
  • Invasiveness: No
  • Tenderness: Perennial
  • Sun: Partial to full
  • Water: 1 inch per week
  • Soil: Sandy, well-draining loam
  • Hardiness zone: 3-9
  • When to plant: Spring or fall
  • Spacing: 18-24 inches
  • Plant height: 2-4 feet
  • Bloom period: July-September
  • Time to maturity: 4 years
  • Container friendly: Yes
  • Fertilizer: Add compost in spring
  • Toxicity: No
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant: No

Echinacea purpurea, sometimes referred to as coneflowers, are hardy, perennial herbs native to the Midwest of North America. Outside of its native range, it is generally not considered invasive, but it can drop seeds and spread. Most gardeners won’t have any difficulty controlling the spread of this herb.

Advertisement

This herb prefers partial to full sun, an inch of water per week, and to be planted in sandy, well-draining, loamy soil. Echinacea is hardy to zones 3-9 and is best planted in spring or fall. Space your plants 18-24 inches apart and expect growth to as tall as 4 feet.

Advertisement

Coneflowers are long-lasting flowers. They usually start blooming in July and last all the way until September, making them a fan favorite of native pollinators. They can be grown in containers, typically take about 4 years to fully mature, and appreciate some compost added to their soil every spring.

Advertisement

Echinacea is non-toxic and deer resistant, but it is known to suffer from some pests and diseases.

Advertisement

When to start Echinacea seeds indoors

Growing Echinacea seeds indoors is very easy. Start your seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before you intend to plant them outdoors in the spring. Cover the seeds with a quarter-inch layer of starting potting soil. Keep the soil damp and warm, about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Your seedlings will emerge after 10-20 days.

Advertisement

How to harvest Echinacea seeds

Harvesting Echinacea seeds is very simple. All you have to do is wait for the plant’s flowers to run their course and begin to die back. Once the flower dies and the seed head turns brown, you can cut the seed head off and gently brush the seeds out. Allow these seeds to fully dry for about a week and then store in a paper bag, envelope, or other container.

Advertisement

How to harvest Echinacea

The roots of the Echinacea plant are said to harbor the most potent medicinal qualities, but most people harvest the leaves and flower buds of the plant in order to brew it into tea. This is a simple practice best attempted after at least 2 years of growth. You don’t want to do this to a newly planted Echinacea. Simply strip the leaves and flower beds from the stem and allow them to dry. Once dried, they can be incorporated into a loose leaf tea.

Advertisement

Wildlife attracted by Echinacea

Coneflowers is known to attract native bees, butterflies, bumblebees, and other pollinators. Hummingbirds are also said to be common visitors to these flowers. If you want to attract these animals and insects to your property, the long-lasting nature of the Echinacea flower makes it a prime candidate for your garden. Wildlife will be attracted to your property for months!

Advertisement

Common problems

Echinacea is prone to a number of issues, including pest infestations and disease. Stem rot, powdery mildew, anthracnose, and aster yellows are the most common diseases impacting coneflowers. This herb can also be damaged by eriophyid mites, aphids, and Japanese beetles, but the results of these infestations aren’t normally deadly to the plant, and treating these infestations will get it back on track.

Uses for Echinacea

Echinacea has 3 primary uses – aesthetic, ecological, and medicinal. People plant these herbs for their beautiful flowers and pollinators absolutely love them. The most popular purpose of the plant, however, is in herbal medicine. Echinacea is said to shorten the duration of common colds and flus and reduce some of the symptoms, including fever, cough, and sore throat. As with all natural remedies, understand that your mileage may vary.

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!
Advertisement