How To Harvest Seeds From Echinacea

Although the first step might seem straightforward, it is significantly more crucial than you might realize. Once you have recognized certain plants, you can determine whether they are actual native species or cultivars if they are found in the wild.

However, you should be mindful that the plant might be a hybrid if you plan to save seeds from a neighbor’s strangely colored (orange, white, or red) coneflower. The seeds will produce a different flower if it is a hybrid. (More information is provided at the article’s end.)

Collect seed heads

The seeds will begin to form a few weeks after the flowers have finished blooming. There are really two locations on the seed head of echinacea where seeds can be gathered. both inside the actual “cone” of the cone flower as well as at the base of each petal.

After the seed head is starting to turn brown / dry out you can harvest the Echinacea Seed Heads. Either 5 or 6 below the seed head is where you should make the cut. Alternately, hold the seed head gently and make an incision immediately below it. These should go in a paper bag.

Before harvesting, you should allow the seed heads to completely dry out. Alternatively, you could give the seeds themselves a week to completely dry out.

Remove seed from the seed head

Here’s where my method for preserving echinacea seeds shines the brightest! The “cone” or seed head is highly thorny and unpleasant to handle, as you are already aware. Therefore, we will do something far better than using clippers to cut the seed head open and release the seeds.

Obtain a container with a minimum 6 diameter and 6 height, such as a used coffee can made of plastic. Place a few seed heads into the coffee can, shut the lid, and give it a good shake! The seed will come free from the cones after shaking for roughly 10 to 20 seconds.

Simply lift the top and take out the (now-empty) coneflower seed heads at that point. The majority of the good, live Echinacea seed will be what is left in the can (and a small amount of chaff). The seed can now be allowed to dry for another week or two on a plate or in a cool, dry area (and not in direct sunlight).

Sift the seed to remove chaff (Optional)

I also have another suggestion if you don’t want some chaff mixed in with your seed. A standard kitchen strainer can be used to get rid of the chaff. Simply pour the seed/chaff mixture into a strainer and twirl it around lightly.

Most of the chaff will either fall or blow away if you do this outside. Much of it will fall through the strainer if it is inside. Everything depends on you. Hey, to each their own, but I don’t mind the chaff.

Store the seed

I keep my echinacea seeds in a variety of plastic jars or containers. Zip-lock bags or plastic baggies also work well. I’ve found that the seed will remain healthy for a number of years following harvest. However, the proportion of seeds that will sprout gradually declines with time.

Additionally, I have uploaded a video to YouTube that details the procedure. In order for you to witness the entire procedure from beginning to end in action, I’ve provided a link to the video below.

Want to know the best techniques for germination of echinacea? Below is a thorough description of how to cultivate coneflower from seed that addresses any and all queries (stratification, planting depths, etc).

How are echinacea seeds collected and stored?

Take up the challenge of growing coneflowers from seed. Coneflower seeds are fairly obvious in gardens. They are hidden inside the sharp, spherical balls that remain when flower petals wilt. Echinacea seeds aren’t difficult to gather, and with the right techniques, they’re even simpler to grow. Find out how to collect and nurture coneflower seeds.

The garden is awash in a variety of flower hues and plant sizes thanks to modern coneflower cultivars. However, it’s a good idea to start with one of the straight species, such purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) or Tennessee coneflower, if you intend to grow coneflower seeds (Echinacea tennesseensis). Strong viability means that there is a good chance that these coneflower seeds will sprout.

Many contemporary hybrids’ echinacea seeds are only partially viable and occasionally sprout. Hybrids can occasionally be infertile. Additionally, keep in mind that hybrids do not reproduce from seed, so planting hybrid coneflower seeds may not result in the precise plant you desire. Include at least two different coneflower plants in your garden if you intend to save seeds because all coneflowers have a certain proportion of sterile seeds.

Snip flower stalks after petals have fallen off to preserve coneflower seeds. Cut the stem as long as you can. This stem should be inserted into a paper bag with the spikey flower head facing the bottom of the bag. More than one stem can fit in a single bag. Using a rubber band, twist tie, or piece of twine, secure the bag around the stem’s base. The bag should be hung in a basement, dry garage, or closet. Seeds from dried flower heads will drop into the bag. The coneflower seed looks like a little white triangle.

After the seeds have germinated, separate them from the dreary chaff and let them air dry for a few days. Echinacea seeds should be kept in a cool, dry area. Put seeds in sealed jars and place them in the refrigerator for long-term preservation. Coneflower seeds are best planted within a year of harvest, even though they can be stored for as least seven years.

Even plant scientists disagree on the subject of whether the stratification process is necessary for the germination of coneflower seeds. Many backyard growers who use winter sowing techniques report great germination outcomes. Seedlings should be separated and tucked into the garden in the spring. Additionally, you can move seedlings into pots to allow them to mature before being incorporated into a landscape planting. This is a smart move if your garden attracts animals that eat plants, such as deer, squirrels, or rabbits.

Since many of the new coneflower hybrids are patented types, it is against the law to produce more of them. Plant patent owners normally have nothing against a home gardener cultivating a few coneflower plants from seed for their own garden. But you shouldn’t increase the number of patented coneflowers for sale or for use by others.

Allowing seed heads to ripen and dry on plants is another method for growing coneflower seeds. Break separate seed heads in the fall and scatter seeds where you wish new coneflowers to appear. Alternately, let coneflowers self-seed naturally. When produced from seed, the majority of coneflowers take two growing seasons to flower.

Does echinacea reproduce on its own?

Despite the fact that the majority of us would want to spend the entire day in our gardens, real life interferes. Instead, we choose simple, low-maintenance plants that, despite only requiring a few minutes here and there of care, give the impression that we spent hours in the garden. Coneflower is a plant that I frequently recommend since it can withstand poor soil, extreme heat, drought, full sun to part shade, and it blooms continually whether you deadhead it or not.

Aren’t coneflowers sounding quite good right now? Getting better Echinacea attracts and feeds pollinators and a variety of butterflies when it is in bloom (such as Fritillaries, Swallowtails, Skippers, Viceroy, Red Admiral, American Lady, Painted Lady, and Silvery Checkerspot).

After they stop blooming, their seed-covered “cones serve as a valuable source of food for many birds from late summer to winter (such as goldfinches, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, and pine siskins). Therefore, when people ask me about deadheading Echinacea plants, I normally advise them to only do it during the flowering period in order to keep the plant looking lovely, but to leave fallen flowers in the late summer to early winter for the birds.

In order to stop Echinacea from reseeding itself all over the garden, you can also deadhead it. Older forms of coneflower can self-seed, though not quite as aggressively as Rudbeckia. Newer hybrids typically do not self-sow and do not generate viable seed. Birds aren’t really interested in these more recent hybrids either.

Is it difficult to grow Echinacea from seeds?

Echinacea needs full to partial sun to grow well. At least four hours of sunlight every day are required for plants. Since the plants are native to woodland borders, they will flourish in locations with morning shade and afternoon light, or the opposite.

Echinacea may thrive in rocky, poor soil, but not in soggy, waterlogged soil. Compost should be used as a mulch around newly planted plants.

Coneflowers grow in clumps and require space. One plant will typically grow bigger, but it won’t spread through roots or rhizomes and take over the entire garden. Check the mature size stated in the plant description to help you choose the appropriate spacing because the final size of the plant clump depends on the cultivar. Leave 18 inches between plants if it is anticipated that they will spread to be 18 inches broad. Echinacea must be planted where you want them since they have deep taproots. They dislike being relocated after being established.

Echinacea plants should be planted in well-drained soil in full to part sun in the spring or the fall. Echinacea is also simple to cultivate from seed, but it needs a period of stratification—a cold, damp time—in order to germinate. In the fall, scatter seeds widely (after hard frost in the north and prior to winter rains elsewhere), lightly covering them to deter birds from eating them. In the spring, seeds will begin to sprout. One benefit of starting with transplants is that the majority of plants will bloom during the second year.

Planting

For the best germination, seeds require a period of cold, damp weather. In the fall, direct sow outdoors, or chill seed for 8 to 12 weeks before planting. Plant seeds 4-6″ apart and 1/4″ deep. In 10 to 21 days, seeds will sprout. So that mature plants are 12″ apart, thin seedlings.

For the first year, keep the soil suitably moist until the plants are firmly established. drought resistant to some extent after establishment.

Seed Saving

Hardy perennial Purple Coneflower produces seeds in the late summer to early fall. When the seed is dried and brown, it is ready for harvest. Keep seeds in a dry, cool environment. 5-7 years are the life span of a seed.

Coneflower deadheading is recommended.

  • Before cutting down to the ground to get ready for fresh growth in the spring, let plants stand through the winter to provide food for wildlife.

Coneflowers are a must-grow if you appreciate watching pollinators buzz and flit about lovely, trouble-free flowers that bloom for a long time. Although purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are the most prevalent, there are many new coneflower cultivars available in a rainbow of cheery hues, including pink, yellow, orange, red, and white. These flowers don’t just provide joy for a short time; they return year after year because they are perennials.

Because of the “cone that starts to poke up in the center of the circle of petals as each flower matures, coneflowers get their name. Actually, this is a group of seed heads that, when allowed to dry on the plant, serve as Mother Nature’s bird feeder, luring a large number of cardinals, goldfinches, and other hungry birds.

How to Choose Coneflowers

Which of the dozens of different coneflower kinds should you grow? The quickest response is: whichever ones you deem attractive and have room for (check the plant tag for info on this). Want some recommendations? Use these

  • There are numerous native coneflower species, but the purple coneflower, which typically reaches heights of 2 to 4 feet, is the most well-known.
  • ‘White Swan’ is a well-known variety that grows up to 4 feet tall and has big white blossoms among other widely available types.
  • A lot of dwarf coneflower types, like “Kim’s Knee High,” remain fairly compact (with pinkish-purple flowers). If you have a small garden, consider planting them because you will get many blossoms in a short amount of space.
  • Coneflower variants are also available that hardly resemble coneflowers at all, notably hybrid double types with two rows of petals. Just be mindful that some of plants produce flowers that fade more quickly than others in the garden.

Where to Plant Coneflowers

Coneflowers should be planted in an area with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. However, in warmer climates (zones 8 and higher), a little midday shadow is beneficial because it will prevent the blooms from fading. As a result of their clump-forming nature, these plants won’t spread as widely as some other perennials. If you leave blossoms in situ, many of the older kinds may self-seed, which is a simple way to grow new plants!

When to Plant Coneflowers

Coneflowers grow best in the spring, after all threat of frost has passed. You can plant in the early fall as well. Just make sure your new plants have at least 6 weeks before the first anticipated frost to form roots; otherwise, they might not reappear in the spring.

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting Coneflowers

Coneflower roots need a healthy environment to flourish, so strengthen your natural in-ground soil by adding 3 inches of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers to the top 6 inches of soil. The Moisture Control technology in this nutrient-rich garden soil helps to safeguard plants when they unintentionally receive too much or too little water. Additionally, if you use Miracle-Gro soil and plant food (and adhere to all instructions), you’ll get up to three times as many blossoms during the growing season (compared to unfed), so be sure to read the part below on “How to Feed Coneflowers.” Just one coneflower planted? Make a hole, then mix garden soil and the recently excavated earth 50:50.

How to Plant Coneflowers

1. Determine the location where you’ll plant your coneflowers, making sure to allow enough room between each plant. (The plant tag ought should indicate how much room you need.)

2. Create a hole for each plant that is identical in depth and width to the root ball.

3. To give root growth a boost for the first 30 days, drop a Miracle-Gro Quick Start Planting Tablet into the planting hole (as per the instructions on the label).

4. Remove a coneflower plant from its pot and insert it into the gap. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil.

5. Fill in the area surrounding the plant and firm up the dirt there.

6. Water sources.

7. Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch around the plant, being careful not to let it contact the stem, to help keep the soil moist and to block sunlight so weeds can’t develop.

How to Stake Coneflowers

Coneflowers rarely need to be staked because of their sturdy branches and large flowerheads. However, if you do encounter floppy plants, drive a strong stake close to the middle of the plant (avoid going through the plant), and then loosely wrap twine around the stake and the individual stems. Or, you might spend money on a spherical flower clumping stake. In either case, the finished product should appear natural, not constricted around the plant’s middle.

How to Water Coneflowers

Coneflowers can tolerate drought pretty well once they’ve had some time to establish themselves. Check on them every other day after planting; if the top inch of soil is dry, thoroughly water. Your coneflowers’ droopy leaves are another indication that they need water. Coneflowers shouldn’t require watering after a full growth season in the garden unless it hasn’t rained in at least two months.

How to Feed Coneflowers

Want a ton of lovely flowers? As soon as fresh leaves begin to grow in the spring, begin feeding your coneflowers Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Bloom Booster Plant Food. Your plants will grow bigger and produce more blooms as a result of this flower feast, which gets to work right away. Additionally, since you may apply water-soluble fertilizer when watering, it won’t require any extra time to do so.

How to Deadhead and Prune Coneflowers

Deadhead coneflowers frequently at the start of the bloom season to promote greater flowering by removing the faded blossoms before they set seed. Always prune back to a leaf or section of the stem where a new bud is visible. You can just leave them alone later in the season when the plant starts to produce fewer blooms.

To feed the birds over the winter, let the plants alone. Prune them to the ground in late winter. In the early spring, leaves will appear at ground level, soon to be followed by flower stalks.

Try this simple trimming tip to prolong the blooming period of your plants’ coneflowers by at least a season. Cut back some of the stems by half as they start to grow again in the spring to postpone flowering on those stalks. The cut stems will lend their beauty a bit later in the season after the uncut stems have finished blooming.

Can I Divide Coneflowers?

Coneflowers don’t require dividing like some perennials do in order to thrive. They are difficult to divide because each plant has a single taproot. Therefore, simply let them be.