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How to Grow Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) Herb from Seed

  • Scientific Name: Genus Echinacea
  • Hardiness Zone: Annual, Perennial 3-9
  • Days to Harvest: 2nd year
  • Days to Maturity: 2nd year
  • Days to Germination: 7-14
  • Seeding Depth: ½”
  • Plant Width: 24-36"
  • Plant Height: 24-48"
  • Growth Habit: Wildflower shrub with tall coneflowers
  • Soil Preference: Average, dry, well-drained
  • Temp Preference: Temperate, 60-70°F
  • Light Preference: Full sun
  • Pests/Diseases: Susceptible to rot and mildew in overly saturated, heavy, and poorly drained soil. Basil does not have too many pests or insects and is generally seeded in the garden to help minimize pests.
  • Availability: See All Echinacea Varieties


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Growing Echinacea

Commonly known as Purple Coneflower throughout most of the United States, echinacea is among one of the most widespread perennial American wildflowers grown in North America. While there are about 40 known species in the genus Echinacea, the hardiest and most tolerant has always been common purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) with its fibrous roots found in most garden beds, prairies, and fields. Wild echinacea is exclusively native to the eastern and central United States in a variety of moist to dry woodlands and prairies, thriving perennially for up to 40 years when allowed to grow in the wild. When grown in the home garden, purple coneflower actually thrives from being uprooted and having its thick, fibrous root quartered for replanting once every 3-4 years, helping to keep the plant its healthiest while creating three more mature and identical clones. Echinacea is a tenacious wildflower intended to thrive for many years and is adaptable to sunny, shaded, dry, or moist grow spaces.

How to Grow Echinacea from Seed

  • Optional cold stratification
  • Can be broadcasted like a wildflower
  • Hardy wildflower with good germination

Echinacea seeds are among my favorites because they truly look wild as if they’re likely to sprout and grow anywhere just like nasturtium or marigold. Echinacea seeds are larger than average and easy to handle when seeding. Even the most tenacious perennial herbs and wildflowers such as lavender, mint, oregano, or poppy initially begin as small and difficult-to-handle seeds, hard to believe that they’d mature into overwintering favorites. Echinacea seeded and propagated naturally in the wild must withstand a season of overwintering before germinating the following spring. As is the case with most wildflowers, many home gardeners traditionally cold-stratify their seeds in the freezer for up to 2-6 weeks prior to planting to help boost germination rates. However, the other camp of home gardeners, including myself, have experienced reliable and nearly 100% germination without having to stratify echinacea seeds at all.

Purple coneflower is one of the most prominent wildflower seeds featured in wildflower mixes and blends intended for open broadcasting across many wide grow spaces. Native to prairies and woody drylands, echinacea naturally propagates from a wild broadcasting in many full sun and partially shaded meadows. And just like nearly any wildflower, echinacea can either be sown in the garden in autumn for a season of cold stratification or may be sown in the spring 2-3 weeks prior to the final frost. For more traditional sowing, plant 2-3 seeds ¼” deep per cell in average, medium moist, well-drained soil. Thin out seedlings early to minimize legginess from competition, keeping the cotyledons low to the soil for most optimal starts. Once sprouted and showing true leaves, echinacea will quickly prove its wildflower hardiness.

Harvesting

As a perennial, you don’t harvest aerial parts of the plant until the second year. Whole echinacea plants and their taproot can be harvested in peak bloom during their third year. Home uses include teas, foot soaks and herb baths.


Additional Information on Echinacea



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