ECHINACEA CULTIVATION (ECHINACEA), A FAVORITE OF NATIVE AMERICANS
The echinacea ( echinacea ) is an attractive plant native to the North American plains that is highly prized not only for its beauty and ability to attract butterflies , but also for its medicinal value.
Echinacea was used as an antiseptic and pain reliever by many plains tribes, such as the Cheyenne and Sioux. They also used it to treat insect and snake bites.
Today, many followers of herbal medicine use the roots of the plant to treat viral and bacterial infections, reduce inflammation, and heal wounds.
Even if you're not interested in its purported medicinal properties, the upright herbaceous and perennial shoots sprout 3- to 4-inch flower masses and is a beautiful addition to many garden settings.
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
This plant takes its common name from the cone-shaped mound of small flowers in the center of its larger flower head. Its scientific name is derived from the Greek word for hedgehog.
The plant grows upright and can grow up to four feet.
The best-known variety, purple coneflower, grows to about 18 inches tall and sprouts a cluster of flowers about two feet wide.
The flowers of the plant are similar to those of daisies, with attractive drooping petals in a wide range of colors.
Its rough leaves are dark green and 4 to 8 inches long.
ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW
- Narrow-leaf coneflower ( E. angustifolia )
- Narrow-leaved purple coneflower ( E. serotin )
- Pale purple coneflower ( E. pallida )
- Purple coneflower sanguine ( E. sanguinea )
- Smooth coneflower ( E. laevigata )
- Tennessee coneflower ( E. tennesseensis )
- Topeka purple coneflower ( E. atrorubens )
- Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower ( E. simulata )
- Yellow coneflower ( E.paraxa )
Smooth coneflower is quite rare and is included on the federal endangered species list of the Endangered Species Act.
In addition to the natural species mentioned above, commercial breeders have developed dozens of varieties, each seemingly more showy and vivid than the last.
SUN, BUT NO SALT, PLEASE
Several varieties are hardy in zones 3-9.
They they prefer full sun , although some types do well in partial shade.
This species likes uniformly moist, well-drained soil and will tolerate drought once established.
It will do best in rich, organic soils. No he likes salty soil , but it will do well in virtually any soil pH.
BAKE A CAKE, RECEIVE A PLANT
You can start this fantastic flower from seed, nursery start, or by division. If your neighbor has an enviable group or two, have a homemade cake like this recipe from our sister site Foodal and ask for a part.
If you are planting seeds, sow ⅛-inch deep in 70 ° to 75 ° F soil and allow a germination period of 15 to 30 days. Some gardeners have more luck sowing the seeds in the fall, to allow for cold stratification.
This is a process by which the seed is repeatedly frozen and thawed, softening the seed coat and stimulating embryonic growth.
Plant seedlings in the spring or fall. Pick a sunny spot, loosen the soil in a 10-inch diameter circle around the planting site, and dig a hole to the depth of the root ball.
Lower the plant into the hole, fill in with the removed soil, and tamp down gently.
To divide your neighbor's plant , choose a good spring or fall day and cut the dirt with your shovel in a circle about 6 inches from the group.
Gently slide your shovel under the plant dough and lift it up. Use the blade of your shovel to cut the plant into 8-inch diameter sections.
Replace your neighbor's lots, plant your sections in your garden, and water everything well.
LOW MAINTENANCE LOVELIES
Remove dead foliage and stems as needed.
Coneflowers don't feed much. You can maintain their health and vigor with an annual application of 12-6-6 slow-release fertilizer, just before new leaves emerge.
During dry spells, give these colorful beauties an inch of water once a week. No supplemental water is required during the rainy season.
PROBLEMS TO LOOK FOR
While there are some unpleasant items to watch out for, none pose a serious risk to plants of this type.
Powdery mildew can affect echinacea. To curb this fungal disease, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda, ½ teaspoon of liquid soap, and 1 gallon of water. Spray on the affected plants.
AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL
Ready to add a slice of Americana to your garden?
With dozens of varieties to choose from and flowers that last from early summer to late fall Easy-care echinacea is certainly a valuable addition to many landscapes.
It is not known if these plains natives will attract bison to your garden, but there will certainly be plenty of butterflies that will come around.
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