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Growing Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflower, or Echinacea, is one of my favorite garden perennials. This is because it is easy to grow, has abundant blooms, and is very popular with both bees and butterflies.

Purple coneflower can be purchased in the classic purple, a beautiful white, or a lovely yellow. Not all of these variations might be available in your area. The yellow variety is called Echinacea paradoxa. It is native to the area around Texas, is rare, and so probably best left to gardeners in that region. The white, which is a cultivar or Echinacea purpurea, has never grown as vigorously for me as the purple does. So, if you are new to growing Echinacea it is probably best to start with one of the purple species.

Purple coneflower can be grown from seeds, but it is much easier to start with a small plant from your local nursery. Buying from a local nursery should ensure that you have a plant that is suited to your climate.

Plant purple coneflower as you would most flowering perennials. It needs full sun. It needs a rich, but well drained soil. To prepare soil for a flowering perennial I will generally take my existing soil and amend it with peat moss and compost. How much I amend the soil would depend on how good or bad my existing soil is. After planting a coneflower I would mulch it. Especially during the first year of growth I would be sure to water the new plant if there are drought conditions. However, that is about all you should need to do. Once established for a year or two a coneflower will need very little care.

Echinacea is famous for it's use as a herbal remedy for the common cold. Unfortunately, you need to use the root of the coneflower to make a herbal remedy from it. It would certainly be much easier to make the remedy from the flowers, but according to all that I have read the root is what you need. There really isn't an easy way to take a big piece of root from a coneflower without disturbing it, so I would only attempt this if I were dividing a plant. When dividing a plant you already have it dug up and disturbed, so taking a small root cutting would not add too much to the trauma.

More about: Perennials

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