How to Grow Purple Coneflower

How to Grow Purple Coneflower

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Whether planted as a perennial border, added to an informal flowerbed, or naturalized in a field or along a roadway, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) provides lovely color as well as sturdy cut flowers throughout the summer season.

Purple coneflower is also a relatively low-maintenance plant that's easy to grow from seed. Perhaps that's why, of the 4 species of Echinacea commonly grown today, E. purpurea is by far the most popular.

General Growing Requirements

Keep in mind, however, that purple coneflower doesn't produce a high percentage of viable seed per cone. Only 25 to 50 percent will germinate, and the rate goes down the longer the seed is stored (Balge).

To allow for this, collect lots of E. purpurea seed. Sowing collected seed in the fall, not long after it's been harvested, rather than waiting until spring will also improve its germination rate.

Planting Purple Coneflower Seed

Sowing Purple Coneflower Outdoors

If you decide to sow purple coneflower seed in the fall or spring, plant it directly outdoors.

First, prepare the soil by working in organic matter such as aged farm manure, peat moss, compost or leaf mold with a hand cultivator or trowel. Then sprinkle the seeds over the prepared soil. (This is called broadcasting.)

Cover the seed lightly with soil and firm it into place with your hand or the back of your trowel. Write the plant name and the date sown on a stake and place it next to the area, marking it so that you don't inadvertently plant over the seeds. Then gently water the purple coneflower seed into place using a watering can with a rosette attached.

In spring, E. purpurea seedlings will emerge.

Starting Purple Coneflower Indoors

If you decide to start E. purpurea seed indoors during the winter, allow yourself about 3 months to produce seedlings that are ready to transplant—2 months if you don't chill the seeds first.

Chilling purple coneflower seed, however, is recommended as it will improve the germination rate. For this reason, it's probably wise to place the seed in a clean, sealable container in the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks before sowing (Balger; Turner 171), a process known as stratification.

After chilling, sow the seed in growing medium suitable for seed starting, covering it lightly with moist soil. Place it in a warm room (about 70 degrees F) under grow lights. Mist the soil frequently to keep it moist until the seeds germinate. This will take anywhere from 10 to 30 days (Balger).

Once the seeds have germinated, the purple coneflower seedlings will be ready to transplant outdoors in about a month. If it's still too cold outside, you could move the seedlings to cell packs or 4-inch pots and allow them to attain a bit of growth before transplanting them outdoors in the spring.

Works Cited

Balge, Russell and others. "Production of Purple Coneflower as a Cut Flower." Maryland Cooperative Extension. University of Maryland. 21 August 2012. Web.

The Maryland Master Gardener Handbook. University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener Program. College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2008. Print.

Proctor, Rob. Gardening on a Shoestring. Boulder: Johnson Books, 2006. Print.

Turner, Carole B. Seed Sowing and Saving. Canada: Storey Communications, 1998. Print.

"When to Divide Perennials." Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. September 2006. Iowa State University Extension. 23 August 2012. Web.

Questions & Answers

Question: I picked a cone flower from a friend's garden. It's still summer. Are there seeds in the cone? Can I plant into my garden now for blooming next year?

Answer: To get viable seeds from a coneflower, you should allow the flower to mature and "go to seed" on the plant. A young, fresh flower contains immature seeds that, even when dried, are unlikely to later germinate.

© 2012 Jill Spencer

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on March 02, 2015:

Thanks, aesta1. Glad you stopped by. Have a good one! --Jill

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 26, 2015:

We planted some last year in our cottage. I hope they are fine buried in the snow now. Congrats on all your Editor's Choice. Your hubs are really great.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on September 04, 2014:

We had a hard winter here, too. Good luck with your seeds & thanks for stopping by! --Jill

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on September 04, 2014:

Great information. This year my coneflowers did not come back in the abundance of previous years. I'm thinking it may have been the hard winter last year. I like your information on seeding...I will collect and plant for next year. Thanks

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on April 05, 2013:

Hi Thelma. How lucky you are to have them! Spring's a great time of year to divide them so that you have even more! So glad you stopped by. Take care, Jill

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on April 05, 2013:

Now I know the name of the flowers that are growing in my garden. They look so beautiful and in different colours. Thanks for sharing this, thedirtfarmer. Voted up and shared;-)

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 26, 2012:

Sounds good, Glimmer Twin Fan! Thanks. (: Can't wait to read your hub. Flower pounding on fabric is new to me. Take care, Jill

Claudia Mitchell on August 26, 2012:

Jill - Your gardening hubs are always so lovely and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind me giving you a shout out in a hub I am finishing up in a few days. It's about Flower Pounding on fabric. Just wanted to check before I did it. Thanks.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 25, 2012:

Hi OldRoses-- I would be honored to have one of my hubs linked to one of yours. (: I look forward to reading it! --Take it easy, Jill

Caren White on August 25, 2012:

Fantastic hub! Jampacked with great information. I love Echinacea. So much that I have been working on my own hub about them. It's more of a "why grow" rather than your "how to grow". May I link your hub for growing information?

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 24, 2012:

Awesome, grandmapearl! They sure are pretty, aren't they? And easy to grow. Thanks for reading, sharing & all the rest. I'm hoping to sow mine just like you do this year, but may have to dry & store them instead in case our new planting area isn't quite ready. Have a great weekend! --Jill

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on August 24, 2012:

I LOVE purple coneflowers. In the fall when the seed head has dried on the stem, I carefully usher it into a paper bag or wrap it with a paper towel. Then I take the seed head to a spot in my garden where it will be happy. Next I shake the seed head to release all the little seeds over my new garden area I've prepared just for them. I do this every year with several of my coneflowers. Then the rest are left for the birds to distribute. I now have a LOT of coneflowers, which are visited by beneficial bees and butterflies!

Great article with lots of useful information as always.

Voted Up, Interesting, Useful and Beautiful, also Shared & Pinned!

Claudia Mitchell on August 23, 2012:

Your photos are always gorgeous and hubs so informative. I have a couple varieties in my garden and it's always a great performer.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 23, 2012:

Oh, moonlake, that's a shame. If you can find it, you might want to try one of these varieties: Fatal Attraction (it's a deep, purplish-red), Tennessee coneflower (about the same but without the dark stems) or Elton Knight (it's pinkish-purple). They're a little bit more cold-tolerant than most, and my friends in WV have had success with them. (Here in southern MD, I grow the heat-loving, drought-resistant varieties!) Thanks for commenting! --Jill

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 23, 2012:

Hi pstraubie48! Good luck with your planting. Once you get E. purpurea going in your garden, you're going to love all that pretty purple color. Stay dry now! --Jill

moonlake from America on August 23, 2012:

I love cornflowers and I grow them I have pictures on one of my hubs but they never last. They die no matter where I put them. I guess the cold winter kills them. Enjoyed reading your hub. When we drove through Iowa cornflowers were growing all along the highway, so pretty.

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 23, 2012:

Hey sgbrown! Thanks for your comments & votes. It is a great plant to grow, with a big landing pad for bees and butterflies! Take care, Jill

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 23, 2012:


This is a lovely flower. I am always looking for something that is colorful.Thank you for the detailed explanation on how to grow them.

I will be looking for some of these to grow after Issac passes. We have a little storm hovering around Florida right now. I will watch your posts for more info on growing things.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 23, 2012:

this is a gorgeous flower, gorgeous. I do so need some of these in my yard. Thank you for the detailed information on how to grow them. I will look into to getting some for my yard after Ivan decides what he is going to do. I do not want to plant anything new outside until this nasty little storm moves through.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on August 23, 2012:

I love purple cone flowers! I have them growing in several of my flower beds. I especially love the way the re-seed themselves and I will have little ones coming up late spring or maybe next year. Great hub! I love the useful information. Voted this up and more! Have a beautiful day! :)

Jill Spencer (author) from United States on August 23, 2012:

Wow, bridalletter! You must have the perfect growing conditions for purple coneflower! In our flowerbeds, I plant them in the middle, as we have plants even taller, like hollyhocks and giant snapdragons, in the back. Thanks for commenting! Jill

Brenda Kyle from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA on August 23, 2012:

Wonderful hub for such a thriving flower. I have them where they shouldn't be, pull them out and plant in other places. I pass them to my mom and ex mother in law. I let the golden finches eat the seeds and I save some to give to other people. They are too tall for a front flower bed, so mind the height and the fact that you can pull them all out and it will look like you never did! I do love them when they are blooming but they are an eyesore afterwards in the front yard.

Watch the video: How to harvest echinacea seeds (August 2022).