Are you growing echinacea purpurea in your flower garden yet? If not, you should! Learn about purple coneflower care and how to enjoy the flowers with these simple tips.
One of the first perennials I planted in our garden was purple coneflowers. Their blooms are gorgeous and they are easy-care, low-maintenance plants to boot.
Some grow them as medicinal plants, but I grow them as cottage garden flowers and will sometimes cut the blooms to enjoy in an arrangement.
Learn how to grow and care for purple coneflowers with these simple tips.
(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)
About Purple Coneflowers
Purple coneflowers, also known as echinacea purpurea, are herbaceous flowering native plants from eastern and central North America. It belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and is a popular garden plant, known for its attractive, bright purple flowers and medicinal properties.
Hardy to zones 3-8, the purple coneflower generally grows to a height of 2 to 4 feet on tall stems depending on the variety. Its distinctive flowers have a cone-shaped center that is surrounded by petals that droop downward. The flowers bloom in early summer and attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
While it prefers to be planted in full to part sun in well-drained, moist loamy soil, it can adapt to a variety of soil types once established.
Echinacea flowers also make great cut flowers for bouquets and look beautiful in any flower garden setting. There are several varieties of coneflower to enjoy. And it almost seems like new varieties come out yearly.
Purple coneflower plants have been used for their medicinal properties to treat a variety of ailments, including colds, flu, and other infections. It is believed to boost the immune system and is often taken in supplement form or herbal teas to promote overall health and wellness.
Overall, the purple coneflower is a beautiful and beneficial plant that is easy to grow and care for. So if you are looking for a stately flower that will brighten up a border and give you all the cottage garden feels?
You need to plant some echinacea purpurea.
Purple Coneflower Care
Purple coneflowers are a popular perennial that produces beautiful, daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white.
Here are some tips on how to grow and care for these gorgeous plants.
Purple coneflowers require at least six hours of sun each day to thrive but can handle spots with partial shade too depending on your hardiness zone and if they are well-established. When planting, choose a location with moist, loamy, well-drained soil that has neutral acidity.
Water newly planted purple coneflowers regularly until they become established. But keep an eye on them because it’s important not to overwater them. How much you water will depend on the weather in your climate.
Since I typically plant mine in spring or fall, I let nature do its thing because we get enough rain here and the temperatures are cooler.
When they are established, reduce watering thoroughly to roughly once or twice a week depending on the weather in your climate.
They are fairly drought-tolerant once established but may require more watering during periods of extreme heat or dryness.
Purple coneflowers do not need to be fertilized. Instead, focus on providing the plant with good-quality soil.
Because they are native to the US, they don’t need to be coddled and overly-cared. Plant them in the proper location, help them get established and these perennials can take care of themselves.
Purple coneflowers are great self-seeders and can naturalize in an area with ease.
Deadheading spent flowers regularly will encourage the plant to produce more blooms, look tidy and prevent self-seeding. This means you’ll be cutting flower heads that are no longer blooming.
It is a good idea to leave some of the flower heads for the birds to enjoy the seed. I deadhead mine more during summer to keep the plant looking neat and then typically leave my echinacea alone as we head into fall so the remaining seed heads feed the birds and self-sow.
It is a good idea to divide purple coneflowers every few years. Because over time, purple coneflowers can become crowded and lose their vigor.
My echinacea has grown so well and self-seeded so much, it has taken over a larger space in my garden than I wanted.
So dividing the plants every 3-ish years can help rejuvenate them, keep them from overcrowding other plants, and promote healthier growth.
Pest and Disease Problems
In general, purple coneflowers are relatively pest and disease free. They are susceptible to aphids, Japanese beetles, and other pests. And can also be affected by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
Purple coneflowers are considered to be deer resistant. But I have only found the flowers to be so because of their orange spikey centers.
To keep plants healthy and minimize problems, avoid overwatering and overcrowding. And do not overfertilize them.
Where Japanese beetles are concerned, skip the pheromone traps that actually attract more to your garden and focus on your lawn’s health instead.
It’s important to address your lawn organically with a milky spore and change the grass seed over to tall fescue if that type of grass seed does well in your climate. This will help prevent the beetles from laying eggs in your lawn and disrupt their lifecycle in your garden.
How to Enjoy the Flowers
Purple coneflowers produce beautiful flowers that last a very long time and are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Plus, they make good-cut flowers for use in bouquets.
So don’t be shy about cutting a few blooms for use in flower arrangements. Or leave them on the plant to enjoy in your garden.
I grow other types of flowers intended for cutting, so I usually leave mine in the garden.
5 Reasons to Grow Purple Coneflowers
Purple coneflowers are wonderful additions to any flower garden. Here are 5 reasons you should grow them.
- They have attractive and vibrant flowers that give all the cottage garden feels to any garden.
- Purple coneflowers are easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. Once established, they are drought-tolerant and can adapt to a variety of soil types, making them a great choice for novice gardeners or those with busy schedules.
- It attracts pollinators. The nectar-rich flowers of purple coneflower are a magnet for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
- Purple coneflowers are deer-resistant flowers. Deer occasionally browse on the foliage so plant other deer-repelling plants in front of them or spray the base foliage with repellent.
- Purple coneflowers are perennial plants with a long blooming season. And because it returns year after year with proper care, you can save time and money compared to annual plants that need to be replanted each season.
Do Purple Coneflowers Come Back Every Year
Yes! Purple coneflowers are perennials and will come back year after year with the proper care.
It is important to grow them in the proper hardiness zone and soil conditions, plant them in full sun, and keep them hydrated as they establish so they will reward you with fresh beautiful blooms each year.
Additionally, you can help to ensure their longevity by deadheading spent flowers regularly, maintaining good quality soil, and dividing plants every few years to prevent overcrowding and promote healthy growth.
Do Purple Coneflowers Spread?
Yes, they spread well!
Purple coneflowers have a tendency to spread and form clumps over time. This is because they propagate by both seed and rhizome (underground stem) production.
As the plants mature, they produce more and more rhizomes, which can lead to the formation of a dense clump.
However, this spreading habit can be managed by dividing the plants every few years, which not only helps to control their growth but also promotes healthy growth and flowering.
Additionally, deadheading the spent flowers can prevent self-seeding and help to contain the spread of the plants.
When Should I Plant Purple Coneflowers
The best time to plant purple coneflowers is in the spring or fall, depending on your climate and growing conditions. Avoid planting in the heat of summer as it will be more difficult to establish plants.
To save money on plants and help establish them more easily, I purchase smaller baby plants in spring from the nursery as opposed to full-grown plants. They cost less and are easier to establish as younger plants.
Another money-saving tip is to purchase plants in late fall when nurseries are selling their stock off at a major discount. So you’ll get more bang for your dollar that way. It’s also easier for plants to establish in late fall through winter because they won’t experience the drought stress from summer heat.
As long as the ground can be worked, you can plant.
Where Should I Plant Purple Coneflowers?
Echinacea purpurea prefer a sunny location with moist loamy, well-draining soil in a location that receives full sun for most of the day. As I mentioned earlier, they can handle partial shade too but grow and bloom best in full sun.
Avoid planting them in areas with heavy clay soil, or in locations where water tends to accumulate. Because they do not like wet feet.
Plant them in an area with good air circulation without overcrowding from other plants. Good air circulation helps prevent fungal diseases, which can be a problem for purple coneflowers if they are not grown in the right conditions.
Because purple coneflowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, they are a great choice for pollinator gardens. Plant them in large groupings alongside other nectar-rich flowers to attract more pollinators to your gardens.
Do you Cut Back Purple Coneflowers in the Fall
The decision to cut back echinacea purpurea in the fall is largely a matter of personal preference. Here are some things to consider.
Leaving the dead flower stalks and foliage in place over the winter can create visual interest and provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Some gardeners prefer to leave the plants standing until spring.
I love how the plants look when snow covered. And since they help birds and other wildlife too? I typically leave mine until spring.
Cutting back the plants in the fall can help to prevent the spread of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, which can overwinter on the plant material.
Removing the dead foliage and flower stalks can help to reduce the likelihood of these diseases returning the following year.
If you had a problem like this during the growing season, I recommend cutting them back in fall. Remove all of the dead and diseased foliage and do not compost it.
Leaving the dead foliage in place can make spring cleanup more difficult, as the new growth can get tangled up in the old plant material.
To combat this problem in spring, I get out there much sooner in spring before new growth gets entangled in the old growth and cut the plant back then.
But cutting back the plants in the fall can make it easier to prepare the beds for new growth in the spring.
Are Purple Coneflowers Deer Resistant?
While echinacea plants land on many deer-resistant lists, I have only had that experience with the flowers, not the foliage.
It is true they avoid eating the flower heads, but deer have mowed down the foliage at the base of plants early in the season in my gardens. The plant still flowered but it looked strange.
So I treat my coneflower plants with deer repellent in early spring as plants break ground and fill out their foliage.
Should You Deadhead Purple Coneflowers
Yes, deadheading purple coneflowers can help to promote healthier growth, prolong the bloom time, and prevent self-seeding.
Here’s how to deadhead your purple coneflowers.
- Allow the flowers to fade on the plant. As they begin to dry out, they will start to produce seeds. Deadheading the flowers at this stage will prevent the plant from using energy to produce seeds and instead focus on vegetative growth.
- Using a pair of clean, sharp pruning shears, cut the stem just below the flower head. Make the cut at a 45-degree angle to prevent water from pooling on the cut surface.
- Collect the spent flower heads and dispose of them in the trash or compost bin. If you leave them on the ground, they may still produce seeds and lead to self-seeding.
Deadheading is a simple and easy maintenance task that can make a big difference in the appearance and health of your plants.
More About Purple Coneflowers
Do you grow purple coneflowers too? Have you experimented with other varieties of echinacea too? I would love to know more in the comments below.
And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it on the blog. Would love to see you there too!
If you prefer to binge-watch Bricks ’n Blooms on TV, we go more in-depth with tours and posts on my YouTube channel. Would love to hang out with you there!
And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.
Want to Learn How to Grow Flowers With Ease?
If you’ve always wanted to grow flowers but struggled with where to start or how to create something beautiful, I got you. I wrote a book that shares all the things you need to know to grow a beautiful and easy-care flower garden.
- Have you never met a plant you couldn’t kill?
- Have you dug around in the dirt with nothing to show for it except a sunburn and a sore back?
- Do you currently enjoy growing flowers, but are looking for more tips and ideas to level up your gardening game?
Then the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy Care Garden Book is for YOU!
What’s in the Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide?
- Gardening basics to set you up for success
- Great garden design ideas with ready-made plans for you to follow
- Easy-care instructions for a wide variety of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs
- Helpful how-tos for container and cut flower gardening
- Graphs, charts, and lists to help you stay organized
My book publishes on February 6, 2024, but you can preorder now and get a special pre-order bonus chapter you can’t get when the preorder period closes.
Preorder your copy here and get a free, downloadable guide that shares bonus information with tips and unique garden designs to get year-round color in your landscape. Offer ends 2/5/24.
- I like to use a good-quality, potting soil, garden soil, compost, and perlite when planting. While I make my own compost, you can easily buy it ready-made for use.
- I have used this deer repellent with great success. But now, I’m all about this deer repellent that is systemic instead of topical. This means the plant takes it in as opposed to it just smelling bad. If you want to minimize the work and not use repellents, choose plants that are deer-resistant from this list.
- Hands down this is my favorite hand-weeding tool. You can use it to get underneath roots and loosen soil, and it cuts down on the weeding time because you work much faster.
- But I also love this long, stand-up weeding tool to really get around roses from afar.
- I use this organic fertilizer for roses because the blooms are more prolific and it’s organic.
- And I use this organic fertilizer for my vegetables and herbs in the potager garden.
- You’ll need a sharp set of pruners when working with plants and flowers. I buy a few so I can stash them around.
- I use these garden snips to deadhead and cut flowers from my gardens.
- Where pest and disease problems are concerned, if I need to, I generally use this insecticidal soap or neem oil to help control infestations depending on the issue. When using, only apply when pollinators are less active.
- This is my go-to bait for slug and snail problems with my hostas and dahlias.
- This is my favorite set-and-forget slow-release fertilizer for houseplants, annuals, and container gardens.
- Whenever I stake my peonies or other plants, I generally use these grow-through garden supports because they work really well and keep the blooms upright.
- I use this collapsible bin ALL THE TIME. It is invaluable when working in the beds as it’s light to carry around and folds flat for easy storage.
- Drip irrigation set on a timer is your friend! I love these for my planters, window boxes, and hanging baskets.
- And this four way hose bib allows you to split one spicket into four!
Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!
Sign Me Up!
Sign up for my free newsletter to get blog posts, seasonal tips, recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!
Plus, get free VIP access to my Resource Library where you’ll find insider freebies not readily available to the public.
Pin these images to your favorite gardening board so you can save this post for later.
Thank you so much for following along.
Enjoy a beautiful day! xo
Want to learn more about me?
I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. With a deep passion for gardening, I enjoy helping others find their inner green thumb with all things plants and flowers, as well as finding ways to bring the outdoors inside their homes.
Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.