Tag Archives: echinacea

Plant Hardy Coneflowers!

Looking for an outstanding perennial that can withstand heat, drought and still be beautiful Summer through Fall?  Coneflowers (Echinacea) are a long time favorite for as long as I can remember.  When I first started planted Echinacea in my garden purple was the only color to be found and now the array of colors are almost endless.  Yellows, oranges, purples, pinks, magenta, green, whites…Some are even fragrant.  WOW!    The flowers are long lasting as well.

Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea Flowers

Cheyenne Spirit Echinacea Flowers

Coneflowers grow in zones 3-8.  Deer don’t seem to bother coneflowers, but rabbits can be pesky. Self seeding is common with the common purple coneflower, while the hybrid varieties spread better by roots.  Give your coneflowers plenty of sun or they can become spindly and produce small flowers. Plant in a well-drained spot.  If you soil has a tendency to become waterlogged, plant your coneflowers high, giving them a better chance to drain.  Coneflowers don’t like their roots wet for extended periods of time.  Wet roots equals root rot with echinacea.   Here’s a bit of good news!  Coneflowers don’t need rich soil to do well.  In fact a very small amount of fertilizer in early summer just before they set out blossoms is all they need for the season.  Echinacea makes a great statement when planted in groups of five or seven (always odd numbers) or in drifts.  Deadhead spent flower to keep new ones forming.  Late fall I usually leave the last of the flowers/seed-heads for the birds to feast off of during sparse winter months.  They are great for wildlife gardens due to the seed heads they produce.  Cut back the dead foliage (from frost) after birds have harvested all the seeds to one inch above the ground.  Echinacea can be drought tolerant once the roots get established.  This usually take a couple of years, so don’t forget to care for you investment until then! While they are low maintenance…this do not mean not maintenance!

Some of my favorite coneflowers are;  Flame Thrower.  It has a bright, big beautiful flower that really makes a statement. Hot Papaya for its unusual fluffy center and brilliant pink color. Cheyenne Spirit for its fabulous array of colors that can form on one plant.  Yellow, deep orange, bright orange and other autumn shades.

Great companion plants for echinacea are grasses, bee balms, anise hyssop or rudbeckias.  These all look great together and have the same water and fertilizer needs making your job easier!

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My Favorite Perennial Flowers

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I can pick two perennial flowers that will always be at the top of the list for my favorites.  Not just because of their beauty or their ability to grow great just about anywhere (here in the hot desert of Southern Utah), but because they look absolutely stunning together and they come in so many varieties these days.  I just think the two together are rather romantic!  Rudbeckia is an old-time favorite.  When you hear the word “Rudbeckia” you probably aren’t sure of what flower that is, but a common Rudbeckia is the “black-eyed Susan, Goldstrum”, one of which I’m sure many know.  Yes,  I love the good old black-eyed Susan, but lets step outside the box for a minute.    Prairie Sun, Chim Chiminee, Chocolate Orange, Denver Daisy, Solar Eclipse, Maxima, and so many others with and amazing array of rich colors.  You just can’t have one!  Echinacea the other sturdy, everlasting choice also known as coneflower and for its roots medicinally.   Again, there are so many to choose from.  I have several that I grow just because of their names, like; Green Wizard.  Not a flashy one but truly unique.  Milkshake, as you can imagine white, but this one has a double center as does the Hot Papaya’, but splashing with color.

Both Echinacea and Rudbeckia like the same type of soil, water conditions and light, so it’s easy to grow them together in groups.  Although the soil conditions don’t have to be great, your perennials will thrive if you give your soil a little love and care before planting.  I always add compost to the planting spot and work it in to loosen the soil.  Plant these long living jewels about 1 ft apart and water in well.  They will spread over the years, so give them some room.  I don’t like to grow these in pots.  The first year they are establishing their root system so they will require plenty of water to get them off to a good start.  Evenly moist soil will do the trick.   After about a year they can dry out in between watering without any damage.  Planting them in full sun will give them the best blooms, but even a little shade they will tolerate.  The great gift of these perennials is that they usually bloom beautifully the first year, so they don’t necessarily follow the old rule of perennials,  Which is:  The first year they sleep, the second they creep, and the third they leap.  Both of these varieties bloom from summer till frost, assuming you give them a little bit of care of deadheading them.  Just simply clip off the spent, or almost spent flowers just above the next bud in line.  This will keep your plant looking fabulous and healthy.  Perennials, including both Rudbeckia and Echinacea are considered low maintenance, but not, no maintenance.  Everything needs a little love, care and nourishment to remain happy.  After frost, cut them back to ground level.  Make sure they are marked so you don’t disturb the roots while dormant.  `Rudbeckia and Echinacea both make great cut flowers too!  What a pretty center piece for a casual outside dinner.   I like to feed mine an organic flower food during bloom time, but once seems to be plenty during the season with an application of compost every spring.  Few pests seem to enjoy feasting on the flowers, but grasshoppers  like the leaves, so pay attention early.  As an extra, butterflies are often found spending a leisure afternoon on the tantalizing flowers.  What a picture!

If you haven’t already found a spot to plant two new favorites I’m sure you will enjoy for years to come, do it this evening, or heck…NOW! 

Organic Flower Fertilizer,  Nolo Bait for Grasshoppers

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