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Plant of the Week: Purple Prairie Coneflower

Purple Prairie Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) photo credit

Thought to improve immunity, Echinacea has grown in popularity as an herbal remedy in recent years, but it has been a part of the North American native prairie landscape much longer.  All nine species of coneflower are native to North America, but with varying distributions.  The Purple Prairie Coneflower (Black Samson, E. purpurea) is common in the northern Great Plains prairie and is a no fuss, sun loving, drought tolerant species that is a great addition to any butterfly, wildflower or rock garden.

Plants can be purchased from a garden center or a root division can be taken from a well established garden plant.  Transplant in either the spring or early fall.  Coneflowers also start fairly well from seed.  (Please Note:  Respect native prairie plant communities!  Do not dig up wild plants or gather wild seed.  They are a part of a greater community that depends on them.  Thank you!)   Purchase seeds from a garden center or gather them from your garden friends’ flower beds.  Gathered seed will need to go through a cold treatment before they will germinate.

Plant seeds outdoors early in the spring (6+ weeks before the last frost) or start them indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost.  Transplant starters in full to partial sun after all chance of frost has past for the season.  Individuals should be spaced 2 – 2 1/2 ft apart but in clusters of 3 to 7 plants for the best landscaping autistic and to get the ‘color splash’ that will draw butterflies.  Water newly establishing plants regularly and remove all flower buds for the first year or until well established.  Once the root system is well established, water only during the driest years and deadhead flowers to prevent self seeding.

Happy Gardening! 🙂