Echinacea purpurea, often called a purple coneflower, is part of the daisy family and it’s easy to see why when you look at their conical central disks from which florets emerge, often drooping in appearance, atop long stalked stems. They are associated with prairie planting, often found in eastern and central North America, but give them a sunny spot and these tall, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennials will bring colour and joy to the border.
Echinacea is a fabulous plant to have in the garden and here are the top ten reasons why:
- The dusky pink Echinacea is probably the most widely known but you can also get purple, red, orange, yellow, white, and even lime green forms, as well as two-tone and marbled varieties so there is bound to be a variety which will suit your garden.
- It is loved by bees and butterflies for its nectar-rich flowers.
- Echinacea can, from a distance, look like any other daisy but on closer inspection, the form is more like a shuttlecock with the petals relaxing downwards from a central cone.
- It can grow to around one metre high which adds valuable stature to borders.
- It brings a vibrant burst of late summer colour to bedraggled borders.
- Echinacea makes great cut flowers for the house and, just like deadheading, cutting for vases will promote new flowers on the plant.
- Once the flowers have faded, the Echinacea seed heads still look great and provide food for small birds.
- Echinacea is a hardy perennial so it can be left in the soil all Winter to die back and regrow the following year.
- Echinacea grows in clumps which can spread up to 2 foot in diameter. Every three years, you can dig up the clump and divide it, giving you more plants for free.
- If you are keen to explore the health benefits of Echinacea, the flowers and leaves can be boiled into a tea.
Plant some Echinacea in your garden this month and it will bulk up for next year, bringing you all the fabulousness that this gorgeous, late summer flower provides!