The Purple Coneflower

The Purple Coneflower
Judging by its popularity as an herbal remedy, purple coneflower is likely the leading flowering herb grown in landscapes.

In the garden, there are many uses for purple coneflower. For small gardens, I would recommend the newer varieties like Kim’s Knee High. These tend to be somewhat shorter than the species plant, which is several feet tall.

If you’re growing the ordinary purple coneflower, use it at the back of borders. It also makes a nice specimen plant. Purple coneflower is also very suitable for wildflower meadows.

It’s particularly lovely when combined with other sun-loving perennials like Russian sage and gayfeather (Liatris). The blossoms of the ordinary purple coneflower don’t really look purple. They’re really pink.

Several different colors of purple coneflower are available. There is Bravado with large, rosy-red blooms. Bright Star has drooping, rose pink petals. There are even white ones, such as White Swan and White Lustre.

Purple coneflower has a particularly long bloom period, about six weeks.

The ordinary purple coneflower can be grown from seeds, while the cultivars probably won’t come true from seeds. Generally purple coneflower seeds will germinate better if they are chilled first. This is easy enough to do if you live in colder areas of the U.S. Just plant them outdoors in the very late fall. Then they will get a natural chilling over the winter.

So far as care is concerned, purple coneflower is very carefree. It rarely needs any attention. I delay cutting mine back until very late fall when I know all the goldfinches and other birds have eaten all the seeds they want.

Purple coneflower has many medicinal uses. However it should only be taken for short periods. Otherwise experts say it might have a bad effect on the immune system. Those with any immune system disorder should never take purple coneflower in any case.

This is a nectar plant for hummingbirds and butterflies, so that is another reason it is high on my list of preferred plants.

Whether you use it strictly as an ornamental plant or a useful herbal remedy, purple coneflower has much to offer the small garden.

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