Echinacea is one of our favorite flowering perennials and we grow it in our borders. This year we have started to divide it and give plants away as gifts in pots too, so I hope we can show you how easy it is to grow.
Echinacea are also more commonly known as coneflowers and are great for any borders or path ways. We plant them for the bees and their long lasting flower display. As a perennial they make a good investment for any space that needs a bit of height and gorgeous foliage all year round.
You can grow echinacea by seed or buying plants, you will find that a little goes a long way and this perennial will spread easily.
How To Grow Echinacea From Seed
Growing echinacea by seed can be a bit of a long game. It will germinate after a period of stratification, which means you will need to create a cold period before the warmth of spring.
- Sow echinacea seeds where they are to grow in well prepared soil. They grow long taproots but need a free draining soil as soggy roots will kill off your plants. Sow thickly and cover lightly.
- Sow them once the fear of frost has ended, or sow indoors in biodegradable pots that can then be transplanted. Your echinacea needs to be covered to protect it against the birds, but it doesn’t need much more until it germinates in Mid-Spring.
- Once they have germinated thin to around 40cm apart as a minimum.
- You can grow directly in pots with adequate drainage, one to two seeds to a large pot should be enough to fill a space!
- Echinacea is often reluctant to flower in the first year as a young seedling. This is why we recommend buying plants from a reliable nursery and plant out when they are ready to flower.
Planting Guide For Echinacea
- When buying echinacea plants, look for healthy leaves which are erect with plenty of buds ready to open and bloom.
- Prepare the soil by digging in plenty of organic matter. You want the taproot to establish in soil that is free draining, so if you have particularly clogged up soil, dig it through.
- Plant each echinacea about 40-50cm apart as a minimum. Depending on the variety they will grow to be up to 1.5 metres high!
- Plant in full to partial sun and water in well. Until plants are established you may need to water them regularly. The leaves are a great indicator of any trouble with your echinacea and they will visibly wilt if the plants need any additional water.
- Echinacea will flower happily for most of the Summer and the bees will feast on the nectar of the coneflowers.
- The echinacea plant is a fully hardy perennial and will lay dormant over winter. So clear any debris away before the heavy rains come and make sure to cut back as much as you can to avoid slugs settling in.
- In the Spring time of the second year you will be able to divide the echinacea as they are clumping. If you would like a prairie style border you can keep it until the third year without too much worry. To divide the clumps dig around the plant and use a sharp spade to divide the larger clump. Keep half int he same location and plant the second one into a pot or the ground.
- In the Spring be aware of aphids on the fresh buds. The best way to deal with them is to remove with finger and thumb regularly. They do attract ladybirds so we tend not to use chemicals on the leaves at all. This way get a healthy biodiverse garden.
Perennial herbs are always a sound investment as you will enjoy the benefits for years to come. We love our echinacea as it flowers for such a long period of time. You can use the flowers in arrangements and the root is where we get the possible health benefits from.
- We have put together a free guide for drying your herbs, available here.
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