Due to their hardiness, coneflowers are among the easiest perennials to care for throughout the winter. The only thing left to do is watch them resurrect in the summer rather than pruning them back in the fall or spring.
- Decide whether to prune your coneflowers in the spring or the fall. Either method works, but leaving them up over the winter gives nearby birds access to seeds.
- Cut your coneflowers back 3-6 inches from the ground if you decide to prune them in the fall.
- Coneflowers planted in the ground should only be watered during unusually dry winters. Every other week, or as soon as the top few inches of soil feel dry to the touch, lightly water potted coneflowers.
- Coneflowers should be pruned down 3-6 inches from the ground in the early spring if you leave them up during the winter.
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How is Echinacea pruned for the winter?
- 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.
Is it necessary to trim back Echinacea in the fall?
For a variety of reasons, including protection, adding winter interest, and assisting local animals, a few common perennials should be left in place all winter.
Plants to Cut Back In Spring:
- yearly wildflowers Leaving annual wildflowers like sunflowers, zinnias, or cosmos up through the winter encourages them to set seed and return the following year. Cut them back and leave the debris on the ground if you can’t bear to leave them up (or if you live in a HOA and are required to do so). For the following season, this ought to assist them scatter some seeds.
- To draw and feed birds throughout the winter, Echinacea (Coneflower) and Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan) should be left up until April.
- To provide height and interest, Sedum and ornamental grasses should be left in place all winter.
- As the foliage helps to shield their crowns, Butterfly Weed (Asclepias), Ferns, and Heuchera (Coral Bells) should be left till spring.
Depending on the variety, hydrangeas can either be clipped in the late winter/early spring or right after they have stopped blooming. Hydrangeas that flower on older growth, such as “Endless Summer,” should be clipped as soon as the flowers have faded. It is best to prune hydrangeas that bloom on new growth in the late winter or early spring, such as the well-known “Annabelle” and “Limelight.” This is why it’s wise to keep plant tags or make a list of the different types you have in your yard.
Even though it might occasionally feel overwhelming, fall cleanup can be completed in a matter of hours if you have all the necessary knowledge at your disposal.
How should Echinacea be cared for in the fall?
These low-maintenance perennials just need the bare minimum: frequent watering of approximately one inch per week, a small spring compost addition, and fall pruning, though even that is optional if you like to leave the seed heads.
Pruning: Many modern cultivars are flower factories and will continue to produce without needing to snip off spent blooms, even though deadheading is a standard gardening practice to promote recurrent flowering. In this manner, you may simply leave the seeds alone, providing food for yet another favored group of wild birds, especially tiny songbirds like goldfinches that are particularly fond of the seeds. Why not just let the early, larger flowers go to seed and provide the birds with a feast? Post-deadheading blossoms can be smaller and less gratifying.
Once your coneflower’s flowering is done, you can trim it to the ground so that it can survive the winter. Or, you can chop it down in the first few weeks of spring if you’d rather leave the dry seed heads.
If the flowers are little or poorly developed, add some compost to the soil surrounding the plants as an amendment and fertilizer. Be cautious because excessive feeding might result in a surplus of foliage and a dearth of blossoms.
Watering: Tolerates drought, but thrives under conditions of normal to low rainfall. Water often, but allow the soil to dry out in between. Every week, coneflowers require at least one inch of water.
Divide clumps when they become crowded, roughly every 4 years. If you leave spent blooms in tact, they will easily reseed themselves. If they start to get out of control, deadheading can assist. Some gardeners strike a balance by gathering the seeds and planting them in strategically chosen locations for the following season.
Diseases and pests: Aster yellows, a virus-like illness brought on by a phytoplasma, is one issue that should be noted with Echinacea. Deformed flowers, occasionally with strange tufts in the cones, and yellow leaves with green veins are symptoms. Leafhoppers and other sap-sucking insects disseminate the bacterium (and can also be spread on pruners during deadheading). Once you realize a plant is diseased, dig it up right away and discard it because there is no treatment. Leaf miners, powdery mildew, bacterial spots, gray mold, vine weevils, and Japanese beetles can all plague them.
Do you remove fallen coneflowers in the fall?
What time of year should coneflowers be pruned? Depending on your garden objectives and pruning strategy, the answer to this question may change. For further information on when you should go to your plant with the shears, see the seasonal recommendations below. Keep in mind that some pruning may occur both during the active growing season and during the dormant period.
Coneflowers can be pruned after they become dormant in the late fall or early winter if you choose to keep your garden neat during the colder months. In the fall, trimming back the dormant stalks and seed heads will lessen the likelihood of the plant naturalizing, or spreading. If the seed heads are not trimmed back, native prairie coneflower species, such as Ratibida columnifera and Ratibida pinnata, will easily spread via seed. Pruning in the fall is for you if you have a little garden that you like to maintain neat.
On the other hand, I frequently advise delaying the pruning of native plants like coneflowers until the spring for a number of reasons. First of all, during the fall and winter, these flowers offer vital nutrition to the local avian population. You’re helping the local wildlife by letting the seeds stand if your garden is big enough to support some naturalizing by native plants like coneflowers. Additionally, while some gardeners may view the spreading of plants as a drawback, others consider it as an advantage—free plants! Last but not least, seed heads add aesthetic interest to your environment during the winter, when most plants are dormant.
It is ultimately up to you and what you want for your garden whether you decide to prune your plants in the fall or the spring. Moreover, if you have a lot of coneflowers in your yard like I do, you can decide whether to prune part of them in the fall and leave others for the spring.