Echinacea purpurea Eastern purple coneflower (Su,M,A,N)
2 – 3 ft H x 1 – 2ft W. Pinkish purple daisy-like blooms in mid summer on single flowering stocks. Flower center is burnt orange spikes that become dark seed heads in fall. Dark green leaves and stems have course hair. Stems remain upright throughout winter and seed heads provide winter garden interest and feeds goldfinch.
- Blooms: Mid-Summer to early fall (Su)
- Moisture: Medium (M), but will tolerate some drought.
- Soil Type: All soil types when local ecotype is available (A)
- Does not like alkaline soil.
- Range: Native (N) USDA says its found natively in Boulder County.
- Sun: Full sun but will wilt in dry heat of midday. Does better with light shade in the afternoon.
- Family: Asteraceae
In My Garden
Echinacea was first planted on the south side of the house in the dry baking sun of the Pollinator’s garden. The plants do best here with additional watering and afternoon shade. I transplanted two plants to the new Prairie garden in 2020. They are in a light crowd of tall grass. It gets morning sun as well as noon-day sun, spending the hot afternoons in shade.
Propagation methods and availability
Echinacea is easy to propagate from seed. Stratify for a couple weeks in the fridge before planting in light seed mixture.
Plants can also be divided after a few years to produce new plants. I have not attempted division yet.
A staple of waterways along the eastern plains and the ozarks E. purpurea would seem to be a bad plant for Colorado but I have found that its easy to plant from seed and has been long living.
Asteraceae Family. Eastern purple coneflower is an erect, long lived, perennial herb that grows one to three feet in height, and produces a woody rhizome. The petals may be purple, pink or white in some rare instances. There is a “cone” at the center of the flower, from which its name is derived. Echinacea is rooted in the Greek word for hedge hog, echinos, in reference to the spiky appearance of the cone. The stems are rough and have small hairs along their entire length. The leaves are alternate,
simple, and ovate. Seeds are produced in the cone much like that of a sunflower, and are small, dark, 4 sided achenes.
Use in Ecology
Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies will nectar on the flowers. Bumble and sweat bees also like their nectar. In late fall goldfinches will eat the seeds – though we don’t have those in Colorado :(.