All About Coneflowers
Coneflowers, also known as echinacea, have come a long way in the past few years. New varieties in shapes and colors have expanded the possibilities for late summer and fall color in the garden. Gone are the days of simple pink/purples: now you can find coneflowers in a rainbow of colors: from reds, pinks, yellows, and whites to bi-color varieties. A favorite for pollinators, the long-lasting flowers and interesting seedheads are just another reason to give these a try.
Hardiness: USDA Zone 3 to 9
Size: Grows 2' to 4' tall
Blooms: Late Summer to Autumn
Light: Full Sun
Water: Drought tolerant.
Soil: Tolerates most soil.
Attracts bees, butterflies, and songbirds.
How to Design with Coneflowers
Coneflowers are prairie flowers, and naturally do well in a prairie garden design. They're pretty versatile, and can also be used in desert, cottage, and tropical themes. Position, size, growth habit, texture, and color are the primary considerations.
Consider where they will go: front of a border, drifts in the garden, or mixed groupings? How about the ultimate size of the plant? Check to see how tall your plant will ultimately grow and wide it will spread. Color: what is the color story? Try not to veer too far from three colors and hues thereof to keep your design coherent to give the eyes some focal points. Too many colors can disrupt the harmony of the garden and cause visual fatigue (your eyes just don't know where to first!) Think of the surrounding plants and what function the flowers will serve (i.e., pollinator garden, cut flower garden, etc.)
How to Keep Your Coneflowers Happy
Remember that coneflowers like full sunshine. Shade makes them leggy. They're tough plants and will tolerate poor soil - just make sure the soil has good drainage. Take care not to overwater. Coneflowers hate wet feet, and will succumb to root rot if overwatered.
Ongoing care is minimal: deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms. If you'd like for songbirds to visit you in the autumn, leave some spent flowers at the end of the blooming season. The birds will enjoy the yummy treat. Leaving the seedpods also allows the plant to self sow.
Every spring, add a thin layer of compost. You can divide clumps every 3 years in the spring, when new growth begins.