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Posts Tagged ‘flower exchange’

Echinacea from my garden, Jenny Frech 2011

My mom and I always get a chuckle when we see someone buying purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, at the greenhouse.

This flower has always performed well for us.  I’ve gotten oodles of starts from mom and passed on baby flowers to friends and neighbors.

This is one of my favorite, easy-to-grow flowers.

Purple coneflower is native to the eastern half of the United States.  It is well adapted to a variety of conditions including: cold winters, wet springs, hot and dry summers, and clay soil.  Once coneflower is established, the only care it needs is a little bit of root splitting when it gets too dense.

Coneflower is easy to start from seed.  I just sow the seeds where I want them, sprinkle a little bit of dirt on top (or not) and then let the springtime showers germinate them.

As a perennial, coneflower won’t flower the first year.  You’ll get plants that are about 8-12 inches tall.  If you have other flowering plants in your garden that first year, they will be pretty inconspicuous.

The next year, and in following years, you should have a nice clump of flowering pinkish, purple flowers, between 24 and 48 inches tall.  I’ve heard, but haven’t tried this, that if you cut them back in the late spring/early summer, that the plants will be fuller and less gangly when they bloom in mid-summer.

The blooms look pretty for about 3-4 weeks, and then the petals start to brown.  Some people will choose to deadhead the flowers at this time.  I leave the seedheads as they are.

Goldfinches come to the flower bed all winter long to feast on coneflower seeds.

The seeds that don’t get eaten will reseed themselves, producing even more plants to share with friends.

Echinacea "Irresistible", Photo by Jenny Frech 2011

Echinacea "White Swan", Photo by Jenny Frech 2011

Echinacea is popular, easy to grow and makes a great background flower, so plant breeders have developed unusual varieties.  My first fancy variety was White Swan that I started from seed. This year, I finally broke down and bought a couple of the expensive, er, specialty varieties.

Coneflower comes in a variety of colors , some are puffy and frilly, and others look like a double decker flower with one set of petals stacked on top of the other.

As always, I recommend starting with the basics, in this case it would be the basic purple coneflower.  The basic flowers of any variety generally outperform the ones grown for appearances. That being said, White Swan has always performed well for me.

While searching for images to use for examples, I ran across  WhiteFlowerFarm.com.  This website gave me a bad case of the “Gotta Have Its” as I wiped the drool from my chin.  For even more variety, hop on Google and do a search for “fancy echinacea” and you will be amazed at the variety.  When ordering online, check Davesgarden.com for reputability of the store you are buying from.

Echinacea "Hot Papaya", photo by Jenny Frech, available at Whiteflowerfarm.com

Echinacea "Fancy Frills" photo from Gorge Top Gardens

Echinacea "Sunrise", photo from Gorge Top Gardens

Echinacea "Bubble Gum", photo from White Flower Farm

Echinacea "Flame Thrower", photo from White Flower Farm

 

Echinacea "Double Decker", Photo from Gorge Top Gardens

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