This beautiful perennial wildflower is 2-5’ tall, grows in a wide range of soils, and is highly attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. Infertile purple petals, or ray flowers, guide pollinators to the spiny, domed center discs (echinos is Greek for “prickly”), which are abundant in nectar and pollen. In fall, the seed heads feed goldfinches and other birds. Purple coneflower prefers full or part sun, and its summer-time blooms last for two months. Tolerant of drought, heat, and humidity, it’s easy to grow and makes an excellent cut flower.
Coneflower spreads through self seeding and clumping and is the only species of echinacea to have a fibrous root. Plants should be divided every few years for continued vigor and growth. In late summer, cut stems back by a third to rejuvenate the plant and encourage additional blooms.
Occurs uncommonly in the wild on open prairies and meadows but is often used in land restoration sites. It thrives in prairie gardens, large meadows, small gardens, borders, and in the partial shade of woodland gardens.
Grows 2-5’ tall.
Grow in full sun for best performance. Tolerates part sun.
Prefers loam but also grows in sandy, rocky, clay and drier conditions. Has some resistance to drought conditions but doesn’t do well in very wet soil.
Large, daisy-like purple flowers bloom from July-September. Fifteen to twenty long, droopy ray petals surround an orange-brown disk of tiny, fertile flowers with yellow pollen.
Lance-shaped, serrated green leaves and unbranched stems are sometimes rough with stiff hairs.
Host plant for larvae of silvery checkerspot butterfly, sunflower moth, and Epiblema iowana moth. Many varieties of bees visit the flowers, including honey, native, and leaf-cutter bees. Butterflies such as monarchs, common buckeyes, tiger swallowtails, skippers, American ladies, red admirals, and fritillaries will also feed on the nectar. The dried seed heads attract goldfinches and other birds.
Medicinal, Edible, and Other Uses:
Echinacea has been used for centuries as a medicine to treat many ailments, and the herbal tea made from its petals is extremely popular for strengthening the immune system.
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