Coneflowers are in the genus Echinacea, a group of perennial flowers with drooping to erect daisylike petals. The plants grow up to 3 feet tall and will spread 1 to 2 feet. Coneflower blooms best in full sun but is tolerant of partial shade. The flowers begin in June and continue until October or until the first killing frost. They leave behind interesting seed heads that provide food for the birds. Cut the blooms for flower arrangements that last five to seven days with good care. Deadheading increases the blooms and the plant can be cut back in fall or spring.
- Moderately Easy
things you’ll need:
- Decide if you want to feed the birds before you cut back your coneflower. The seed heads persist through most of the winter and are important sources of food for animals. However, if you desire a tidy garden you will want to cut them back in fall when they finish blooming.
- Remove the spent coneflower blooms during the growing season to promote flowering. If you don’t allow them to go to seed the plant thinks it has not successfully procreated and produces more flowers until it is too cold. It is not necessary to deadhead to get flowers, but you will get more if you prune them back.
- Prune back the flower stalks to the ground in fall if you wish to or in spring. Either way, take out the dead material to within 1/4 inch of the base of the plant. Do not cut out live growth if you are pruning in spring. Warmer temperatures may force an early revival and the plant needs those tender new leaves to begin amassing energy for the blooming season.
- Cut off the dead foliage. It is not necessary but will make the plant more attractive as the new growth emerges. The dead leaves may also impede solar energy collection by shading the new growth. Be careful here as the leaves have thin stems. They should be removed to the base of the plant.
- Provide winter care for coneflowers that were pruned in fall. The plant is now naked with no extra cover from snow. Mulch it heavily with an organic material. Spread 3 or 4 inches around the entire root area and up to the stems. In early spring, pull it away so the new growth can emerge more easily.