Echinacea ... what to do with it anyone?

Waaaay Down South, GA

I purchased an Echinacea this year "just because", but don't know anything about it. Can anyone tell me if the plant is good for anything particular? Thanks.

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

This plant is excellent for building immunity and the herbal drug industry has made a fortune marketing echinacea cold and flu remedies. Generally, it doesn't alleviate cold/flu symptoms, but builds your body's immunity so that you are better able to fight off infections on your own without antibiotics. Sounds great, doesn't it?

The kicker is, the remedy comes from the ground up roots. You have to kill the plant to use it. This has caused a significant problem with echinacea, as it's now over-harvested and getting expensive to manufacture cold remedies commercially.

The good news is, it's a lovely nectar plant for the flutterbies and the hummers love it too. It also makes very nice cut flowers. I grow it, pretty much for the flutterbies. In fact, this is one of the plants that got me converted from focusing on medicinal uses of plants to simply growing critter-attracting plants. I gave up on the medicine once I realized I had to kill this gorgeous plant in hopes that I wouldn't catch a cold. (Quitting smoking did FAR more to build my immunity back up than echinacea ever could have.)

Thumbnail by Dogzilla
Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Also, I had no idea that echinacea could get this tall. At one point, the flowers were actually over my head -- I'm 5' 2" tall. This is probably common, but was news to me. I call this "the World's Tallest Penta with the World's Tallest Purple Coneflower."

My friend has trouble pronouncing "echinacea" so he calls them his "inka dinka" pills. "I started getting a cold, so I took my inka dinka pills and didn't get sick!" LOL

Thumbnail by Dogzilla
Waaaay Down South, GA

Thanks, again, for such good info. I didn't know this plant would bloom. How long do you have to have it before it blooms? Mine is in a container. Should I plant it in the yard? Sure didn't know it would get THAT big! It has really grown, though.

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Ummm.... I think I started out with that one in a container about a thousand years ago. (I think it's one of the plants I've moved from house to house.) You can keep it in a container, which will limit its fully-grown size a bit, or you could put it in the ground. It will send up pups, which you can then divide. You can also propagate by seed -- just cut off the flower heads when they start to get ugly and dry out. Mine put out pups last year, which got maybe a foot high. I dug those up and moved 'em this spring and they bloomed for the first time this season. So your should bloom this year. They will keep blooming until frost and are drought-tolerant in general. Once you establish them, you can ignore them. They're pretty bullet-proof.

Except for when the flutterbies and hummers come around. ;>)

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

I have the White Swan variety. I have had three plants since Spring. I tried them last Fall too but they didn't make it through the winter. Now two of them are blooming beautifully. These two are only about three feet tall with blooms. The other one is still a little plant but I think it will make it for blooming next year. I had no idea they were herbs. I purchased them for their wonderful butterfly-attracting properties.

Thanks,

Chuck

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

I've never seen the white ones here. I'd be curious to try them.

The butterfly lady at my local native nursery says that white flowers sort of turn on the male butterflys so they see those and then go seek a mate. Sort of like butterfly porn.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Butterfly porn? Learn something new every day at DG!

Does anyone have the yellow Echinacea? I saw a nice pot of it at $19.99 but it wasn't THAT nice!

Waaaay Down South, GA

Okay, here goes. How do I know which one I have?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Are the flowers pink, yellow or white?

Waaaay Down South, GA

I meant to say ... if it doesn't have flowers ... how do I know? Are the leaves different? It just says Echinacea, so I don't know.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

My guess is that a plant labeled only "Echinacea" will have a purple flower, as that seems to be the most common variety. When it blooms, let us know! *smile*

Waaaay Down South, GA

Thanks, Critter. I appreciate it!

Tallahassee, FL(Zone 8b)

Yeah, I'd go along with critter's litmus test: when it blooms, you'll know! (Highly scientific, isn't it?)

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Echinacea is a great plant for Color Echoes. Give Perennials, Color Echoes a try. Great combinations.

Waaaay Down South, GA

Thanks, Pirl ... I'll do that.

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

The White Swan variety of Echinacea is a great magnet for butterflies. Since our plants have been blooming, we have all kinds of butterflies and moths. It is really nice. The blooms have lasted for a long time. The question I have is if I deadhead it when the blooms are through, will this encourage more flowers or will it just cause the plant to go dormant?

Thanks,

Chuck

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Chuck,

Deadheading an Echinacea will "break the apical dominance" - that translates to YES you will get more flowers. It keeps the plant from using it's energy to make seed and transfers that energy into making more flowers. With petunias, marigolds, etc. you'll get two stems growing from where you deadheaded it: it branches out.

Hope that made sense to you.

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Pirl. You have really helped me out!!!

Chuck

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Butterflies see colors we do not see. Someone can explain it far better than I but it's why they're attracted to certain plants. Probably the forum about Butterflies and Hummers might be more helpful at explaining it.

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

All the latest research I have read, including articles in "Herb Companion" magazine says that echinacea doesn't do anything in a real sense. Don't underestimate the power of a good placebo though.

Even when it was "THE herb" for immunity and colds etc., it was not to be taken as a preventative, only as a curative at the time of the ailment, its effectiveness being nullified by continuous use. But that seems to be moot in light of recent studies. It's E. angustifolia that was studied in most instances, not the common E. purpurea

Anyway, I leave plants alone here. I also leave the seedheads for the goldfinches. They love them and will pick out every seed they can find. If I want more plants I have to beat them to the seed (and it's not a battle at all) or they'll scarf them up over time.

Robert.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

I love watching the goldfinches pull at the liner in my hanging baskets outside the French doors in the living room. It's much more fun than any TV show!

Bessemer City, NC(Zone 7b)

I just love goldfinches too, shy little things that they are. I guess they get used to you if they see you a lot, but around here they won't let you get as close as you can to other wild birds.

I fell in love with them when I was admiring a wild stand of dandelions in bloom and as I neared to admire the sunny yellow flowers, half the "blooms" flew away! Little cuties were feeding on the seedheads.

I love the arcing or dipping flight pattern they make, softly twittering away as they go.

Robert.

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Dear Robert,

Next year I am going to leave the flowers on the White Swan. We have Goldfinches here but they are kinda rare.

I wouldn't mind getting pics of a couple of these birds in my garden next year.

My White Swan Coneflowers are in a dormant stage right now.

Thanks,

Chuck

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Dear Pirl,

I have a question. It may sound stupid but I really don't know. I have lived in Southern California for most of my life. I have never seen a plant that goes dormant for winter other than fruit trees and some other trees. My Echinacea has been dormant since last October. The temps here have been in the seventies and eighties during the day lately. The Echinacea have little green plants surrounding them that resemble dandelions. How do you know when the Coneflower is coming up or should I just not weed the bed for a couple of months? This is all new to me.

Thanks,

Chuck

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

If I were you I'd leave them be. They aren't happy with transplanting. Why not check with the California gardening forum and ask if they know better as to it's habits out in God's country?

Here they remain dormant until spring and then grow in clumps and are in bloom in June. If they're kept deadheaded they go on and on until frost. I'm better off moving them in August or September and then they settle in for the winter and do fine the next year.

Good luck!

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Elaine, there are a number of varieties of Echinacea. My regular pink stuff does get very tall. but taller in one garden than in another.
I also started some white stuff from seed and find it's much smaller. Then, I have some plants in my garden which I think may be crosses of the two varieties. I expect that yours will bloom eventually, and when it does, you will want to dead head it regularly to keep it under control. If you don't it will seed freely in the garden and you'll end up with way more than you really want.

I've ordered some of the yellow stuff for this summer and look forward to trying it.

Ann

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Viola - do let us know how the yellow grow and send photos, please! Thanks.

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

Viola,

Yes, please take a photo or two so I can know what you are talking about when it comes to height. My Echinacea plants were only three feet tall including flowers. I may try to switch over to your variety. Do they have the same hypnotic effect on butterfies as the White Swan variety?

Thanks,

Chuck

Ottawa, ON(Zone 5a)

Remind me again after the snow goes. There's about 2 feet of snow in my back yard at the moment. Won't have the plants until sometime in May.

Ann

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

CBernard - I read, sometime long ago, that the white variety isn't perceived as white by our butterfly friends as they see it differently. I thought it was interesting.

Viola - I now have it marked down to remind you because I'd love to see how yellow it is: goldish, pale, brilliant, blinding, etc. Thank you.

Union Grove, AL

I might have the yelow echinachea, depends on whether you are a lumper or a splitter, i have wHat used to be Echinechea maxima, now usualy sold as Rudbeckia maxima, bloom stalk about 8 feet tall and large cabbagy gray leaves, nice plant if a bit vulgar in bloom , actually rude as a matter of fact, talk about butterfly porn, lol. Let's just say it is masculine in appearance. BRIGHT, as you said pretty much blinding, i find it uncomfortable to look at when the sun is on it but then even daffs can do that if it is one of the stronger ones. yellow blossoms about 6 inches across and about 4 in height after 4 years, considerably smaller when younger, more like a healthy black eyed susan. The E. paradoxa , i have only seen in pics.

Perris, CA(Zone 9a)

The two Echinacea (White Swan) that I was mentioning earlier have come back from dormancy with a vengeance. LOL...Actually there are small yellow-green growths at the base of these two Echinacea. Now, only time will tell whether they make it or not.

Thanks,

Chuck

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Sounds excellent. I'll bet they make it and bloom their little buds off for you: I hope so!

DeLand/Deleon Spring, FL(Zone 8b)

I posted in the plantfiles about this too but so far no response so maybe someone here has an idea. I bought 3 Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea) from Lowe's about 6 weeks ago. Planted them in the ground, and they've done......nothing...........there might be one or two new little leaves, they haven't died, not grown, not wilted, nothing? Just sorta sitting there. Good soil, tested the PH...just under 7....Plenty of sun.........anybody got any ideas on this?

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

They're probably just busy making roots. Patience is the hardest gardening quality for any gardener. Keep us posted since you did mention "one or two new little leaves" - that's very hopeful.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Pirl is right. I think roots is the answer. These will put on new growth this coming spring and really take off. The Echinacea is perennial and the fall is the time to plant perennials so the roots will get established before summer heat. Patience ~ MJSPonies ~ you will be posting blooms with the rest of us next spring...

DeLand/Deleon Spring, FL(Zone 8b)

Ok..........I guess I thought that since so many of our (here is central fla.) other perennials take off and grow and bloom in the fall also that these would too.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Maybe the second year. The old saying on growth of perennials is the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap.

I have tons of these seeds if anyone would care for some, dmail me...

Thumbnail by podster
Palatka, FL(Zone 9a)

I bought a purple coneflower plant maybe 6 weeks ago and planted it in my vegetable bed. It is still alive but hasn't grown any. Since reading about it the vegetable bed might not be the best place since it will get so big and is a perennial. What could be the reason it hasn't grown? Everything else in the bed has done well.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images
    BACK TO TOP