Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Echinacea, Cone Flower

What plant will do well in Full Hot Sun is drought tolerant, is purple & comes back every year? That four-part question is a common one at the Greenhouse. The Purple Cone Flower can answer yes to all three. I like the Cone Flower for several reasons. It has been very hardy in my yard. But there is something cool in my mind about growing Echinacea! Makes me feel earthy. Cone Flower is in the Daisy Family. It is a wild flower in the central United States. Great for any sunny garden, it is highly adaptable. That means it can be moved and bounce right back. Echinos is a Greek word, meaning hedgehog. I guess they named it that because the base of the plant is a little prickly. I have learned that it is the big black root that is used to make the pills & tea's that boost the immune system and fight infections. I think they make excellent cutting flowers, and they do attract butterflies and humming birds. Division or seed can achieve propagation. Obviously seed would be much easier. But the Cone Flower would love to be divided every 3 years.

Growing Guide- Cone Flower loves Sun, full Sun. It will tolerate a little shade. But if it has too much shade it will stay very small, yellow up and probley not make it through the winter. You may have to stake this plant. Those blossoms get big and top heavy after the plant has grown a few years. I use those small green bamboo sticks. They hide well, and the plant stands up very nice. This plant would never do well in standing water. The soil must drain. But it can stand much less frequent watering after the first or second year. My Cone Flower was small the first year, and then I moved it. It was small that next year because of the move, I am sure. But this last year it was huge. I loved every second of it. I use a time-release fertilizer in the spring. And if you keep Cone Flower dead headed, you will have regular prolonged blooming. One of the greatest things about this plant is it is long lived. It blooms and blooms. If you consider yourself a real "black thumb" try Echinacea when it is already started at the nursery. The only problem's that this plant has is with the starting out process. At the Greenhouse they have already tackled this problem for you. When you pick it up it will grow and be beautiful for years to come. Cone Flower comes in a variety of colors. So it can’t just be called Purple Cone Flower any longer! A White Variety is called Echinacea Purpurea 'White Swan'. But there are so many choices with Echinacea. Tall, Medium & Short. Purple, White and Pink.

Hope this gives you a reason to plant Echinacea. If not for the look of the plant, for your own well being. Hee hee
Happy Planting

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