Also known as echinacea, coneflowers are a wonderful addition to a summer garden. They are tall and hardy and make for excellent cut flowers. Find out when to plant coneflowers and learn more about their benefits.
When to plant coneflowers: Coneflowers are a perennial that will continue to grow each year. Plant the seeds either indoors eight weeks before the last frost date or directly in your garden once the soil is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want cornflower plants that bloom right after planting, start with young plants that are two or three years old and plant these in the spring.
Planting Coneflowers in Different Climates
Coneflowers may be able to grow in a tropical climate but as they are perennial, they need a period of dormancy to recover from their bloom period. Furthermore, coneflowers prefer a drier area, so the humidity of a tropical climate is not the best.
Coneflowers will grow quite well in a dry climate as they are drought tolerant. They are also native to areas like Texas, which normally does not have a lot of rainfall. Just be sure to water your newly planted cornflowers in the first few weeks.
A temperate climate will be able to support coneflowers. Just make sure that the soil can fully drain as the plants don’t like to have their roots wet.
Another beneficial area to plant coneflowers is in a continental climate. The plants are hardy enough to withstand the cold winter temperatures and their drought tolerance means they are fine in hot summers.
As coneflowers need plenty of sun and heat, a polar climate is simply too cold and dark for the plants to grow.
Choosing Coneflowers Seeds
With quintessential purple flowers and golden centers, this variety is what most people think of when it comes to coneflowers. They can grow to be 48 inches in height and 24 inches in width, so be sure to give them plenty of space.
A different take on coneflowers, this variety has a deep orange color, hence the name. The flowers are medium in height and will grow to be about 30 inches tall.
Benefits of Coneflowers
The construction of coneflowers makes them perfect if you want to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. With large, raised centers surrounded by brightly colored flowers, they can be seen from miles away.
Once the flowers are spent, you can still leave your coneflowers in your garden as the seed heads provide food for birds including songbirds, so you will have a lovely sound in the morning.
Coneflowers are excellent at self-seeding. You can leave the flowers and their seeds in your garden and have new coneflowers pop up on their own the following summer.
Finally, due to their stems, which have a prickly texture to them, coneflowers are pretty deer resistant. They might be nibbled on slightly but they are worth taking a chance with if you live in a rural area.
How to Plant Coneflower Seeds
There are two ways to plant coneflowers: as seeds or as seedlings. While seedlings are easier, there’s no reason you can’t choose to start from seeds.
If you do decide to start with seeds, you may want to start them indoors about eight weeks before the last frost date. Then, you can transplant them after that frost date has passed.
If you have a longer summer season and more mild spring temperatures, you can also simply sow your seeds directly into your garden. The best time to plant seeds is two weeks after the last frost date when the soil is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
One important note about starting with seeds is that your coneflowers might not flower in the first year. Instead, you will have to wait two to three years before your plant bloom.
As for seedlings, you can plant them directly in your garden in spring or early summer. When purchasing these seedlings, look for plants that have new buds on them so that you know they are mature enough to produce flowers.
Try your best to plant coneflower seeds in full sun. If you plant them in a shady location, the blooms won’t open as fully and the colors may seem faded.
For seedlings, plant each coneflower plant about 2 to 3 feet apart. The plants can get quite large, as well as the flowers, so space is important to allow the flowers to grow to their full potential.
The best soil for coneflowers will drain well. Too much water in the soil will lead to root rot, which can ruin the flowers.
You also want soil that is rich in nutrients. Before planting, dig the soil up and add aged compost before mixing it all together.
Coneflowers grow up to 4 feet in length and their roots can be deep and dense. The looser the soil is in your growing area, the easier it will be for the plants to take hold and prosper.
If you are starting from seed, scatter your coneflower seeds over the area you want and then cover with half an inch of soil. You may want to thin the seedlings out once they start to grow.
For seedlings, you can place the top of the roots even at ground level. Dig a hole that is twice the width of the roots and be sure to backfill and tamp the ground down after planting.
How to Water Coneflowers
After first planting your coneflowers, you will want to give them a good watering to allow the soil to settle and to give your new plants the hydration they need.
In the next few weeks, stick to a regular watering schedule. This will depend on the amount of rainfall you have after planting.
Once they are established, coneflowers are drought tolerant. This is good news if you live in a very dry climate although you may have to add more water if you are in the middle of a heatwave.
How to Grow Coneflowers
Unlike other flowers, coneflowers only require a thin layer of mulch to help with water retention in the summer. You can help your flowers out further by placing a thin layer of compost under the mulch in the spring to add more nutrients to your soil.
Because coneflowers are native to many parts of North America, they should be fine with the soil they are planted in. If, however, you are worried about the quality of your soil, you can add compost once a year to help the soil.
One of the benefits of coneflowers is their gorgeous blooms. In order to prolong this color, you can regularly deadhead spent blooms.
Take a pair of clean scissors or just use your fingers to pinch the old blooms off at the top of the stems.
If you don’t want a flock of birds in your garden or don’t want your coneflowers to self-sow, then deadheading is a must as it will get rid of the seeds from the plant.
While there are certain pests that you don’t want in your gardens, such as Japanese beetles and aphids, there are some that are actually beneficial. Soldier beetles, which look like wasps, may be seen on your coneflowers towards the end of summer.
These insects will actually eat the larvae of unwanted insects, so they are good to have. Furthermore, solider beetles can help with pollination.
Dividing and Repopulating
Coneflowers are perennial plants which means they will become dormant in the winter but will grow back in the spring. They will bloom every summer.
However, if you think you have more coneflowers than you started with, this is because they will naturally self-sow. As the seeds drop off the flowers, they will embed themselves in the surrounding ground. If you don’t want extra coneflowers, be sure to deadhead the blooms before they reach the seed stage.
Dividing coneflowers is relatively easy. Simply dig through the roots that you want to remove and then place them elsewhere in your garden. It’s best to divide your coneflowers in the spring or fall so as to not disrupt the blooming period.
How long do coneflowers take to grow?
Coneflowers should be planted in the spring and if you start with seedlings, they will flower in mid to late summer. Seeds should also be planted in the spring and while you will see some foliage in the summer, the perennial plants won’t flower for two or three years.
Coneflowers are known to self-seed on their own so don’t be surprised if you end up with extra plants in the same area.
Coneflowers make for an excellent, vibrant addition to your garden. Whether you start from seed or from seedlings, plant in the spring once the soil warms up. You will have blooms in mid to late summer although brand new plants can take up to three years before they flower.