by Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
You may know the coneflower by the botanical name Echinacea. It has been used as an herbal remedy for colds, flu, fighting infection, boosting your immune system, plus other remedies. My daughter-in-law is a big believer in using Echinacea for colds. I also have been known to take it, not knowing at the time it was made from the coneflower.
Gardeners really like the coneflower as it starts blooming in early summer and continues for months. Coneflowers do very well in full sun, but they will tolerate some shade. Mine had morning sun and afternoon shade, and they did fairly well. You will need to water seedlings and transplants at least twice a week or more until they are established. They are drought tolerant, so they are good for our area. Healthy plants will not be plagued by bugs and disease. If you like to draw butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, they like the nectar. The cone (the name for the top of the plant) makes a good landing pad for the butterflies.
Most gardeners will buy plants, but you can sow seeds in late spring, which is what I did. You will want to plant 3 to 4 seeds every few inches. Cover lightly with soil and then water well. Native coneflowers will self seed. If that happens in your garden you can transplant them where you need them. Make sure you know where you want to plant them before you separate the clump as they need to be replanted right away.
Hybridizers have developed a showy double coneflower. I have seen pictures of them, and they are very showy. The center cone, in a double, looks like a little pom-pom sitting on the top of the stem with the petals beneath it. They come in a lot of different colors from whites to dark pinks and oranges.
As summer starts turning into fall, you might want to let the last of the flowers remain on the plants. They will be food for the birds and seed for new plants next spring. If you’ve never tried them, give them a try. I found them easy to grow and I loved the color they produced in my garden. Happy Gardening!