Fairly New to Echinacea Care - Please Help!

Nashville, TN(Zone 7a)

Hi Everyone!

I'm new to Dave's Garden and I grew my first echinacea last year. I found it at Home Depot and it is called "Sunrise". I've been reading on here that many have not been happy with the "newer" varieties. I must have gotten lucky, because mine bloomed like crazy last year and was beautiful. They died back in winter and have come back this year. The are showing signs of flower buds, but the plants themselves are not that much bigger. I have a few questions:

1) How can I tell when an ech. plant is ready to be divided?
2) How do I divide?
3) Should I fertilize, and if so - what kind of fertilizer and how often?

Thanks so much!

~ Natasha

(The photo is of "Sunrise" - the last bloom about to fade from last fall)

Thumbnail by KnittyNatty38
Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

From what I've read Natasha, you really shouldn't need to or want to divide Echinacea although it can be done. I've read that the most important thing is to really dig deep enough and get enough soil around the roots as to not disturb them. I wouldn't think you would really want to even consider dividing them for at least 3 or 4 years. I've never divided any of mine in the 2+ years I've had them so it wouldn't be a good idea for me to try to give advice on that one. I've heard that Echinacea really don't benefit from fertilizer although I've read some articles saying that they do. I do fertilize mine every couple of weeks with Miracle Gro and they seem to be happy. One important thing I've noticed is to keep the weeds away from them. The plants do not perform as well if there are weeds all around. Most of my Echinacea remained small the first year but are beginning to get much larger in their second season. Many people say they really don;t start showing their full potential until the third season. Hope you find some of this info helpful. Sorry if it seems a bit vague. I've only been growing/collecting them for a little over two years.
Jon

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

I agree - Fertilizer is not necessary with these at all. I think they actually prefer no fertilizer. The only year I had trouble out of mine was the year my Dad fertilized them for me without asking! He meant well though!

I don't divide mine, but I do take basal cuttings from the newer varieties. This is a good way to increase my numbers of them. It also seems to make the original plant put up even more basal growth. You always want to leave the original plant with at least 2-3 basal shoots. I wouldn't attempt any of this until you have experience growing these. They are one of the most difficult plants to keep alive in the cutting stage. They are subject from rotting very easily.

Nashville, TN(Zone 7a)

Thank you both for your input - good info to know.

Echinaceamania - you mentioned "basal cuttings". How exactly is that done?

Thanks.

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

It's basically done by choosing the plant with the most small plantlets around the main plant. You wiggle them back and forth and pull. I can almost always get a good root or two. I pot mine in a pot with sand on top of the soil. Don't plant too deep. Just deep enough to cover the root or roots. Put in a clear plastc tote or other plastic container. I place a flourescent light over them and leave it on 24/7. After about a week, I take one out. If it wilts within an hour it isn't ready. Put it back in.

I've increased my percentages of success by using Daconcil on my cuttings. I'll post pictures later. I just took one Tiki Torch coneflower and made 5 out of it!

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

I would not devide it wait till next year and you will see babies growing around the base of the plant carefull remove some of the soil and take the baby with some roots attached and plant it, it may not bloom that year but the year after, next summer you will have lots of babies on the edge of the plant all the way around probably a dozen or so

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Ah, I was wondering what some of those little Echinacea were that I've seen popping up a few inches from the base of the original plant on some of mine in the last few weeks. I guess that's how they spread, huh? Makes sense to me.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

yes that is it that is how I increase my clumps I never actually devide mine but you need to do it early in the spring and water the babies well and I use bone meal when I plant them to stimulate the roots so they will survive the summer

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Thanks for the info. I don't plan on dividing mine anytime soon either. I planted them all several feet apart so they still have quite a bit of room to expand.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

it is the best way is to plant them two feet apart so they will fill in nicely but wont lack water and nutrients

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Sounds good to me. I space most everything pretty generously so things don't seem overcrowded. It seems most people down here in the tropics like things real close together for some reason. I get countless people telling me my things will look better when they "fill in". LOL

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

yes they will but you wont have to rip everything apart in a couple of years because it is over crowed it will look perfect when everything is mature and that is the way it should be, I was told the same think with my hosta bed but now it looks great the hostas all have about a foot of space all the way around and space for me to walk and check everything out, lots of people crowed their plants for lack of space I have 2.5 acres so there is no reason to do that

Ft Lauderdale, FL(Zone 10a)

Exactly. I like to be able to able walk in between everything. There's nothing wrong with some open spaces where you can see the mulch. My neighbors give me a strange look when I tell them I hope it doesn't fill in too much. People down here seem to want to obtain the "tropical jungle" look. Oh well, too each his/her own.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

yup since I have two sisters and all three of us are obsessed gardener and if you looked at all three properties they are all totally different styles of gardening all are very nice but different, one like shrubs and does a lot of ornamental trees, the other likes everything organized by color and sizes and me well I just like mass planting of stuff so a shade bed with lots of different hostas with different colors and textures, so it is everyone to his or her own and what pleases the eye of the gardener

Gilmer, TX(Zone 7b)

I want to try basal cuttings. I like that idea. I'm not sure the newer varieties will come back true.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

echie usually come true from seeds since I collect them where ever I see them and they have always come as the mother plant

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

The new varieties do not come true from seeds. I've planted 100s of them. There is always something different about them. The only way they come true is from cuttings.

I have had several After Midnight seeds come up very close to the original, but there are still obvious differences.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

that is intersting is it possibly that you have different ones very close to each other and mine are in groupings of the same and are planted in different areas so they are not cross polinated

(Clint) Medina, TN(Zone 7b)

These are hybrids. It's just a fact that they don't come true from seeds. You will get some that look similar to them and many that look like each parent. I'd like to see pictures of your seed grown plants, especially Tiki Torch.

Mona in Metcalfe, ON(Zone 5a)

it will bloom this summer will not have seeds till the fall,

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