Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) - Plugs$6.98
Purple Coneflower is a very attractive and beneficial native perennial, ranging across the eastern half of the US. Purple Coneflower is typically found in average soils in sunny spots, especially in sheltered areas like glades and forest openings. Able to take a bit of shade, Purple Coneflower does best in a more sunny area. Coneflower is also one of the most commonly planted native perennials, and for good reason - They are widespread, adaptable and easy-to-grow, not to mention very pretty. The plants will bloom from early Summer through Fall, and will send up new blooms continually if deadheaded. The spiky disk flowers in the center of the flowerhead have a pleasant honey aroma, attracting butterflies and pollinators. Songbirds love the seeds, and will use them as a source of food in late summer and early fall, even into the winter.
Purple Coneflower is a highly useful landscape plant, and there are endless amounts of new cultivars available. Most of the colorful varieties are hybrids, and they don't tend to last as long in the landscape as the common-or-garden variety. Purple Coneflower is best used in a spot that receives all-day sun, or at least afternoon sun. Coneflowers are especially well-suited for mass plantings - Drifts of them are very eye-catching, and will attract hundreds of butterflies! No environmentally-minded garden is complete without coneflowers.
As discussed previously, Purple Coneflower is a very ecologically important plant, offering nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies. The stout stems won't fall over even in the heaviest of storms - Purple Coneflower's population is centered in the Lower Midwest, where summer rainfall comes hard and fast. Coneflower will usually last for years in a landscape situation, and will reseed itself as well. Leave the stout seedheads over the winter - They provide food and cover for birds and small animals, plus look great with frost and snow coating them!
Purple coneflower has also found its way into medicines - The root extract is a powerful immune system booster, and is commonly available in pill or tea form. An interesting thing to try is to chew on the fresh root - The root has a strong analgesic effect, numbing your tongue! In this manner, it is also good for sore throats. Truly an all-around useful native perennial wildflower!
How to Grow Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflower is very easy to grow in a sunny spot - Any area that gets some direct sun during the day will work well, even cleared areas that are completely surrounded by forest. Coneflower blooms all summer long, making it a good backbone flower for a mixed border. Combine with native grasses and other wildflowers, and you'll provide nectar for the butterflies and food for their caterpillars all season long!
Coneflower will adapt to most soil types, even the heavy clay we get here in the Midwest. The foliage will wilt in droughts in a hot, dry spot, but a little water will help them through. In spots that are more sheltered, they weather droughts just fine, greening up nicely with the return of rain.
Our Purple Coneflower quart SuperPlug™ pots will establish and bloom quickly - Often the same year if planted in the Spring.