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How to grow beautiful Echinacea

We've been growing Echinacea as a cut flower crop for a few years now. We've made some mistakes along the way, so I though it might be helpful to share with you what I've learned so far to save you the time and heartache.

First of all let's talk varieties. For us, the most important thing to consider is stem length. They're not all tall growers. The first year I grew Echinacea I planted Pow Wow Wild Berry not realising they are shorter and best suited as a bedding variety. So just keep that in mind if you are wanting to grow them for cut flowers.

Shorter variety Pow Wow Wild Berry Echinacea

Growing from seed

Echinacea germinates at 18-21 degrees- so it’s essential that you provide the right temperature for germination to take place. I sow mine in early Spring into 72 cell trays. You can also sow seed in Autumn in warmer climates. Providing humidity can greatly speed up the germination process and improve the success rate. I put my trays in large plastic containers, a bit like the ones you would buy for underbed storage. These then go into our poly tunnel. They perform like a mini greenhouse providing a little humidity on those early Spring days and a bit of warmth through the night. I have found in our cold climate we need the containers to get anything to germinate. You could also use a heat mat for some extra warmth but just make sure it’s not too hot.

White Swan Echinacea

Planting out

Once the seedlings are large enough to be planted out they are hardened off outside in a semi sheltered spot for a week and then planted into their beds. choose a sunny position, at least 6-8hrs, in well drained soil. We have free draining soil but if you have clay soil, you will need to amend and raise your beds prior to planting. It’s important to be prepared for snails and slugs at this stage. They love Echinacea as much as we do!

Caterpillars are also a major pest for echinacea. I haven’t found a solution yet! I just plant more than I need and know I will have some damage. All is not lost though, chewed petals can be pulled off and the cones can be used in arrangements instead. I love the texture and structural feel that cones bring to an arrangement, especially for those autumn vibes.

Keep them well watered whilst they adapt to their new home.

When we first grew echinacea I was scared to use fertilizer on them because I was under the impression that they thrived on neglect and poor soil. This year however I gave them the occasional feed with a liquid fertilizer specific for flowers and they’ve never looked better! I’ve also had no caterpillars (or very few). I don’t know if this is just a coincidence but I’m hopeful.

Echinacea is a long lasting cut flower

Harvesting Echinacea

Echinacea  are ready to harvest when petals have fully unfurled and expanded. You will be able

to recognize older flowers by the size of their cones. They elongate the older they get. These ones are perfect to use as cones or to dry because at this stage the petals are easy to pull off.

Long stems of Echinacea Purpurea

Cutting back

Cut your Echinacea back hard in late Autumn/ Winter.

Echinacea is a herbaceous perennial. In our cold climate (we get down to -7 degree celsius , with heavy frosts) the echinacea completely dies back over Winter. I like to cut them back late Autumn and add compost to the beds. This is a great time to collect seed also. Which is easily done by saving some cones which contain the seeds. I also scatter some seed throughout the bed. They self seed easily when given the right conditions. It’s also a great time to remove any weeds and cover with mulch. In Spring fresh leaves will emerge and the cycle continues.

Ready for cutting - Echinacea Purpurea

You won't regret growing Echinacea. Beautiful in the garden, a favourite with the bees and a long lasting cut flower. I highly recommend giving it a go.

It's a staple around here and couldn't live without it!

Let me know If there's something I've left out or if you have any questions.

Happy gardening!

Celine - Echinacea Lover 💗

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Thanx Celine, love this info. I tried to grow them from seed this year but think I was late in planting them and they got to hot with the early heat in spring, that we had. Hopefully will be more successful next season with these handy tips.

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