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Coneflower Help

Sabattus, ME

This past week I planted 5 Coneflowers that are pretty tall in my new flower bed. (Just bought them at a nursery). We have had some heavy rain twice and a few of them are falling over. I have been watering them with some miracle it normal for them to do this? Should I cut them back?

Anyone following my thread on landscaping knows I am hoping for the new garden to look nice for DH when he returns, I realize plant shock etc., but this is I didn't expect. The plants seemed really healthy and strong when I brought them home.

Any chance I overwatered?

Thumbnail by beelady13
Sabattus, ME

Some more pics

Thumbnail by beelady13 Thumbnail by beelady13
Tobyhanna, PA(Zone 5a)

Hi beelady13,

From my experience, coneflowers like things more on the "dry" side and well draining soil. You could try cutting back a bit on watering and see how they do. You could also temporarily stake them to keep them upright.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

I agree with PAgirl, They much prefer a well draining soil. Cut back on the watering, especially if your getting some regular rain. Also, I think most plants need to have time to "settle in" a bit before fertilizing. And Coneflowers are no exception…In fact they do quite well in 'poor' soil. I have some that are growing beautifully in pretty much nothing but sand! In your second picture, it appears that you have good growth at the lower part of the plant…I would cut all of the flowers that are looking 'puny'. This will allow the plant to put more energy into establishing a good root system, instead of all the energy into trying to maintain the flowers. And they take well to cutting. In fact, I find that the more I cut, the more they flower.
Good luck… :-)

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

beelady13 ~ First of all congrats on the new bed! I really like the combinations I see in the picture. The Coneflowers and Gaillardia look lovely together. I'm sure your Hubby will be super-happy.

As far as the Coneflower...they are native plants that do well in poor soil as "tim1" already mentioned, as well as most weather conditions. They actually prefer to NOT be over fertilized. I don't fertilize mine at all. If I add anything, it's a little compost every now and then, sprinkled around the plants.

One of the great things about natives is they grow in the wild under all sorts of conditions. Even though breeders have developed more colors and types, most still adapt pretty well.

The other thing I noticed is you already have blooms. It's generally not a great idea to feed plants with high-nitrogen fertilizer once they're blooming (example: Miracle-Gro). That will force out more leaves and less blooms. It can also make the plant grow tall and thin.

Since it's still early in the season you might take tim1's advice and trim off some of the blooms. You might still develop more buds.

And don't forget the old adage about perennials: "First year they sleep; second year they creep; third year they leap". It really is true. In fact I'm experiencing some of those 3rd year plants right now.

Lastly, Coneflower seeds are a favorite of Goldfinches. If you have some in your area, it can be a real treat to watch several of them perched on the flowers, pulling out the seeds, so I always leave the blooms at the end of the season. If I deadhead them at all, I first make sure all the seeds are gone, but usually I just leave them until Spring.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

New plants NEVER need feeding when purchased in a healthy state, ALL plants suffer from transplant shock when planted out into a new environment from where they were growing before we buy them, planting out into warm / hot sunshine is going to cause the plants to topple over and I suspect the plants as I see them, are just suffering from the above mentioned things as they do look wilted. IF you offer the plants a liquid instant feed such as the one you have given only adds to the stress the plants are feeling, feed is going to make the plant want to soak it up, quickly make new tender growth and remember that it is already trying to just adjust to a new area, probably new temp and work hard to try stay alive all at the same time.
When we relocate any plants, try do it late evening or early morning before the full force of the hot sun gets to them or better still, make a makeshift shelter from the sun, so the soil cant dry out as soon as you take the hose away and what water you gig is there long enough for the plant roots to be able to take a good intake of the water given.
Poke your fingers into the soil to check the soil is moist after you water as it is a surprise to most of us just how little water actually reaches the area where it is most needed. I would also try give a good drink to the plants in the evening when the hot sun has gone away, if you water at one end of the border, by the time you reach the end, there should be enough moisture left in the soil to let the roots drink it up BUT, for a few days / nights, I would go for a second dose of watering to make sure there is enough moisture to sustain the needs of the plants.

Only after the plants look really settled and growing well, would they need a feed added to the growing area to help them last ALL season, you still need to dead head, nip off any diseased looking or damaged foliage and add as much humus to the growing soil as you can get hold off as this (MANURE acts as a feed, helps the soil hold on to moisture when the sun is so hot, allows air into the soil and your plants will show you how much they love their new environment ONCE they resettle.

Take good care and enjoy your new found gardening experience, but try to relax and enjoy your plot, it's not all meant to be worry, panic feeding and expecting our newly planted ground to look like a show garden, all gardening and gardens take time to gain experience so have fun.
Kindest regards. WeeNel.

Sabattus, ME

Thanks everyone!!

I never thought feeding them would be bad, makes sense now that it is explained! I used the Miracle Gro Bloom...ooops!

I will take off the rest of the spent blossoms in the morning. I took them off when I first put them in the ground, but a lot has passed this week.

Another question - is it good to keep the mulch away from the stalk, maybe 6" or so away or more?

Thank you for the advice, it is VERY much appreciated. I hope to relax soon, WeeNel

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

In the past, I've also used Miracle-Gro for blooms, But now I tend to avoid it because I feel like it still has too much nitrogen for plants that are blooming...but that's just my opinion...others might feel differently. Once in a while is probably okay, but otherwise a slow-release balanced fertilizer is the better option.

You don't need to keep the mulch 6" away. Generally about 2" is fine. Mainly, you don't want the moisture from the mulch to rot the stem or give plant destroying insects a place to hide.

Jacksonville, FL(Zone 9a)

Ditto to the mulch…
Personally I stay away from the Miracle-Gro, and tend to use the Osmocote Slow release, both at planting time and several months later. Just seem to have better luck with that.

Happy gardening...

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would err on the side of a more natural type of additive / feed, for ALL plants, there is much better control AND by using things like fish /bone / blood, they are natural feeds and are slow release in as much as they are NOT like manufactured type feeds that are meant to give a fast boost, and plants don't always need that, fast boost is a bit like fattening up a pig / Christmas turkey ha, ha, ha.
Humus / home made compost or animal manures (well rotted) are adding goodness to the soil as well as adding gentle amounts of feed uptake. When these are added the roots spread out into this soil mixture as it is dug into the garden soil, it also helps balance out what additives plant roots require for a long growing season, like moisture retentive soil, feed, and air for a start.

Beelady, as you have just read here on the thread, there are as many different methods and additives that we as gardeners become used to using because over time and experience, we learn to adapt ways that suit our needs, our time spent tending our gardens and an even have a wider range of plant types we kind of lean towards, so please dont think your doing EVERYTHING wrong, the opposite, your trying to learn how to grow a nice garden area especially for your Husbands return so keep asking all the questions you need answers for, keep doing your garden and most importantly, dont turn it into a chore we all have enough chores per day, make your garden into your own haven where you can eventually just blank out all the cares and worries of the day, well for a little while anyway.
Good luck, stay with us on the site and we will all do our bit to help you out, that, believe it or not is how most of us learned, just by asking questions.
Good luck a have fun, Best Regards, WeeNel.

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