Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), native to the central and eastern United States, is a sturdy perennial bloomer that will provide color to your garden from mid-summer to early autumn. The daisy-like petals radiate from a round cone in the center of the plant. Tolerant of both heat and drought, purple cornflower will attract a variety of butterflies to your garden. Purple coneflower is hardy in USDA growing zones 4 through 10.
things you’ll need:
- Organic matter
- 12-6-6 fertilizer
- Plant purple coneflowers in the spring, after the last hard frost. Prepare a spot in full sunlight unless you live in a climate with hot summers. In hot climates, purple coneflower will benefit from morning sunlight and afternoon shade.
- Dig the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Spread 2 to 4 inches of organic matter such as compost or leaf mulch over the top of the soil and dig it into the soil. Work in about 2 lbs. of a slow-release 12-6-6 fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area.
- Dig a hole for each plant. The hole should be only as deep as the plant’s root ball. Remove the purple coneflower from its nursery container and place the plant in the hole. Adjust the depth of the hole if necessary, as the coneflower should be planted at the same depth as it was in the nursery container. Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart.
- Water the plant deeply, saturating the soil, immediately after planting. Keep the soil moist for the first four to six weeks. Thereafter, give the plant 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water every week that it doesn’t rain or when the soil feels dry.
- Deadhead wilted blooms. Pinching off the spent blooms will prevent the plant from going to seed too early and promote continued flowering.
- Pile 3 to 4 inches of natural mulch such as straw or shredded bark over the purple coneflower plants in early winter to protect the plant from damage caused when the soil repeatedly freezes and thaws. Remove the mulch in spring and spread 1 to 2 inches of fresh mulch around the plant to preserve soil moisture and control the growth of weeds.