While biking through a nearby forest preserve, I stumbled across multiple Echinacea purpurea to the side of the path. Curious as to what they were, I began asking around once I returned home. I’ve discovered a surprising amount in my hometown, which further perked my interest in these. Turns out that these deceptively fragile coneflowers tolerate a great deal of environmental conditions. Their resistances and unique lavender inflorescences have made them extremely popular in most areas across North America.
Echinacea purpurea (Purple coneflower)
Hardiness Zones: 4-9 (in zone 3 and zone 10 with adequete protection)
Height: 2-5 feet
Diameter: 1.5-2.0 feet across
Growth Rate: moderate
Root System: deep, fibrous root system
Subspecies: ‘Alba’, ‘Bravado’, ‘Bressingham hybirds’, ‘Finale White’, ‘Kim’s Knee High’, ‘Magnus’, ‘Robert Bloom’, Springbrook’s Crimson Star’, ‘The King’, ‘White King’, ‘White Swan’
Tolerates: deer, drought, clay soil, dry soil, rocky soil, acidic soil, slightly alkaline soil
Problems (major): Very intolerant salt. Self-seeding can lead to excessive, potentially invasive, reproduction. Sweetpotato whitefly can be very harmful.
Problems (minor): Japanese beetle and leaf spot are minor problems, vine weevils bother roots, powdery mildew and grey mold can be issues
Poisonous: no evidence of toxicity to humans or animals
Soil requirements: E. purpurea accepts acidic to slightly alkaline soil (6.0-7.0 pH is optimal); dry, clay, and rocky soils are all viable options.
Air Requirements: not sufficiently researched
Watering requirement: dry to medium
Sun requirement: prefers full sun, survives in part-shade
Leaf shape: lanceolate, medium green color
Leaf size: 5 inches in diameter
Flower structure: 10-20 drooping lavender rays surround a black center (eye) which contains seeds. These resemble the daisy-like Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida).
Flowering frequency: flowers annually from June until August
Bulb/tuber: neither, has a deep, fibrous root system
The daisy-like blooms with several lavender rays attract a great deal of attention in gardens.
Purple coneflowers attract birds and butterflies. The flowers are remarkably unique and beautiful, so they are fairly common in household gardens. These plants go extraordinarily well with Rudbeckia fulgida, Black-eyed Susans.
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