Echinacea ~ Coneflower Plant Care Guide ~ Varieties
Echinacea // is a genus, or group of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The nine species it contains are commonly called coneflowers. They are endemic to eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ἐχῖνος (echino), meaning “sea urchin,” due to the spiny central disk. Some species are used in herbal medicines and some are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. A few species are of conservation concern.
The species of Echinacea are
- Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaf Coneflower
- Echinacea atrorubens – Topeka Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea laevigata – Smooth Coneflower, Smooth Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea paradoxa – Yellow Coneflower, Bush’s Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower, Eastern Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea sanguinea – Sanguine purple Coneflower
- Echinacea simulata – Wavyleaf Purple Coneflower
- Echinacea tennesseensis – Tennessee Coneflower
Researchers at the Agricultural Research Service are using DNA analysis to help determine the number of Echinacea species. The DNA analysis allows researchers to reveal clear distinctions among species based on chemical differences in root metabolites. The research concluded that of the 40 genetically diverse populations of Echinacea studied, there were nine distinct species. 
Botanical name: Echinacea
Plant type: Flower
Sun exposure: Full Sun
Soil type: Loamy
Coneflowers are bright perennials, some of which are used in herbal remedies. These flowers are easy to care for, relatively drought-tolerant, and are good for cut flowers. Coneflowers are daisy-like with raised centers. The seeds found in the dried flower head also attract songbirds to your garden.
- Loosen the soil in your garden using a garden fork or tiller to 12 to 15 inches deep, then mix in a 2– to 4–inch layer of compost.
- Plant the seeds in the spring in humus-rich, well-drained soil about 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the type, in full sun. Coneflowers can tolerate some shade.
- If you are moving a potted plant outside from inside, dig a hole about twice the pot’s diameter and carefully place the plant in the soil. Bury the plant to the top of the root ball, but make sure the root ball is level with the soil surface. Water it thoroughly.
- In the spring, put a thin layer of compost around the plants, then a 2–inch layer of mulch to help keep the plants moist and prevent weeds.
- If you receive less than an inch of rain a week, water your plants regularly during the summer.
- If your plants are floppy, cut them to the ground after they flower.
- Remember to cut off the dead/faded flowers to prolong to blooming season and prevent excessive self-seeding. To attract birds, keep the late-season flowers on the plants to mature.
- Divide your plants into clumps every 3 to 4 years in spring or autumn, although coneflowers do not like excessive disturbance.
- Robert Bloom (Echinacea purpurea), which has prominent, dark orange centers with bright crimson flower petals.
- Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis), which has greenish-pink centers with dark mauve flower petals.
- Finale White (Echinacea purpurea), which has creamy white flower heads with greenish-brown centers.
- Attracts Butterflies
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