Echinacea, commonly known as the coneflower, is a delightful addition to any garden. The common name comes from the cone-shaped central disc that stands out prominently among the single layer of petals. The petals themselves are slightly reflexed or droop, which is a common characteristic shared by most of the Echinacea species.
The Purple Coneflower is the most well known of the coneflower species. These flowers are bold and beautiful. The tall clumps stand up straight holding large, single flowers well above foliage. These daisy-like flowers may be 4-6 inches across and are long-lasting both on the plant and as cut flowers. The purple flowers may be the most common, but Echinacea species come in many other colors. In addition to the yellow and white variety, there are various shades of peaches, pinks and purples and even red.
These beautiful flowers attract pollinators to your garden. It is a visual feast to watch colorful butterflies fluttering over cornflower beds in full bloom. By attracting bees and butterflies into the garden other crops benefit by growing nearby. Echinacea is easy to grow too. It is a native wild plant that self-seeds readily. It is easy to grow from seeds, cuttings and divisions and easily adapts to a wide range of climatic and cultural conditions. It does not demand much attention or pampering, so it is a great choice for novice gardeners.
Echinacea is a perennial. Why should that be a good reason to grow them? Perennials should be treasured in gardens because they spare us the trouble of starting new plants every year. Perennials generally die down in winter and then magically resurrect in the spring, putting out vigorous growth from their underground parts. It doesn't involve starting seeds early, hardening off the seedlings, and then transplant them in their target sights. Echinacea has fleshy roots that store water and is one of the reason they need to be placed in a well drained area.
Echinacea has healing properties and is easily recognized as a medicinal herb. It has a long history of being used as a general tonic to increase immunity, skin rashes, and swelling due to insect bites.