Should You Deadhead Echinacea

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.

How is Echinacea maintained in bloom?

Plant your purple coneflowers in a location that receives at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day to obtain the most blooms (and the sturdiest plants). Although the plants can take some shade, the blooms won’t be as plentiful and they may eventually flop over.

Do coneflowers need to be deadheaded?

Coneflowers can also be pruned in the summer. Pruning, meanwhile, does not appear the same in the summer as it does in the spring or fall. When you prune in the summer, it is more akin to “dead heading” and bouquet-making trimming. Unlike in the fall or spring, you won’t want to completely prune your plant.

In order to deadhead your coneflowers in the summer, you must remove bloom-expiring flowers. Deadheading is frequently done to maintain the plant’s appearance, stop seed production, and promote new blooms on the plant.

Did you know that cutting the flowers will increase the amount of blooming in many coneflower species? It’s true that cutting your flowers to enjoy indoors can frequently lead to even more blooms all summer long. So pull out the scissors and enjoy the lovely blooms both inside and outside.


Choose a spot that has the most light possible. Echinacea enjoys strong light and does best in direct sunlight. The plants can take little shade and still put out a lot of flowers.

My garden has a lot of shadow, yet I still attempt to cram as many coneflowers in there as I can. Although they are less floriferous and have a propensity to flop over, they still bloom in the shade.


Echinacea plants require little maintenance in terms of irrigation. To grow fresh plants in the garden and promote deep roots, water them liberally. Once they are established, they won’t require any additional watering unless there is a catastrophic drought.


All year long, coneflowers don’t require any extra nutrients. When you plant them, cover them with some well-rotted compost. The next spring, add more compost.

You won’t need to provide any extra nutrients for the plants if you stick to your regular soil-building techniques.


Echinacea develop a lengthy taproot that aids in water absorption from the soil’s deeper layers and contributes to their resilience. They are also a poor perennial to divide due to their taproot.

If you want to plant more, let the plants clump together and start them from seed, cuttings, or a fresh transplant.


Although you don’t need to trim these low-maintenance plants all year long, you can do so to enhance flowers and lengthen the bloom period.

In my Zone 7 garden, echinacea already have quite a long blooming period that lasts from July till midfall. By pruning some of the plants in the middle of the summer, you can significantly lengthen the bloom period if you’re fortunate enough to have a large space with a collection of plants.

By pruning your plants, you may either prune all of them for a late summer and fall display or prune some of them but stagger the bloom times for an even longer season. Pruners made by Fiskars are excellent, practical tools that effortlessly cut through thick stems.

The entire summer does Echinacea bloom?

Echinacea, also known as the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), is one of the greatest flowers found in the prairies of America. With their substantial daisy-like flowers, these hardy perennials are a stunning and water-conserving option for borders, native-grass lawns, and xeric gardens.

Echinacea is a cottage garden classic that produces a stunning display of color, particularly when placed amid shorter perennials where the brilliant, purple, pink, and white blooms shine above other foliage. From July through September, plants put on a lot of blooms that are attractive to both pollinators and butterflies. The height of this hardy, attractive perennial is between three and four feet.

Fun fact: Echinacea is a well-known remedy for colds and flu that strengthens the immune system.

Echinacea is pruned throughout the winter.

By the fall, many perennial herbaceous plants have run their course and are starting to lose their blooms and old foliage. The old leaves should be pruned back to the ground now. The plant’s crown, or base, will remain dormant throughout the winter and sprout new shoots the following spring.

Dying stems will benefit from being severely pruned back because they can become damaged to the crown and roots if pounded by autumn and winter gales. By doing this, messy clumps can also be cleaned up. Autumn pruning and cleanup of leaves can also aid in preventing fungus issues. Dead and rotting foliage, which can also house pests like slugs, can serve as a wintering place for diseases.

But that does not mean that all perennials need to be thinned out. These days, many gardeners choose to leave certain perennials intact, especially those with beautiful seedheads since they offer interest in the winter and give wildlife essential food and shelter. In the spring, when new growth begins to show at the base and they begin to appear untidy, they can be pruned back.

Many gardeners these days choose to leave some perennials whole, especially those with eye-catching seedheads.

Cut down old flower stems

Pruning with wasted flower stems removed is the most basic kind. Since these are frequently hollow, cut them as low and angularly as you can to prevent water from collecting within and freezing, which would harm the crown. If the base of the cluster has already developed new growth, cut just above it.

Prune clump-forming perennials

In the fall, cut perennial clumps like alchemilla, astrantia, and hardy geraniums down to the ground. To prepare the plant for winter, remove all the dead leaves with secateurs. This technique can be used in the fall to tidy up any perennials and grasses that die back.

Leave attractive seedheads

Perennials with attractive seedheads or stems, such as ornamental grasses, thistles, and umbellifers, shouldn’t be cut down since they give structure and appeal over the winter and provide essential food and shelter for wildlife. Find plants with beautiful seedheads.

Perennials to leave

The dense clump of basal leaves that some perennials, including Pulmonaria, retire to should be left alone. Leave perennial evergreens like epimedium, euphorbia, and hellebore. Penstemons shouldn’t be pruned until spring since the old stems will shield the crown from winter frost.

How are Echinacea plants cared for?

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.

Are Echinacea blossoms contagious?

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.

How old are echinacea plants?

All Echinacea species, with the exception of Echinacea purpurea, are deciduous herbaceous perennials. Echinacea grow in clumps that slowly increase and can be divided every few years to keep their vigor. Echinacea of the wild kind are often 2′ broad and 3–4′ tall. However, the eastern taxa are often smaller than the high-plain taxa from Texas to Canada. Modern hybrids range in height from less than a foot to three feet and are two feet wide. A single plant can live up to 40 years in the wild. Every four years is the ideal time to divide them in the garden.

Echinacea flowers, like all plants in the Asteraceae family, are actually inflorescences, which are made up of 200–300 disk florets, which are small, fertile florets that are grouped together on the cone. A ring of sterile ray florets, or what we call petals, surrounds the disk florets. The width of the entire inflorescence can range from 2″ to 5″. The ray florets’ main function is to draw pollinators to the disk florets, where pollination takes place, using their vibrant colors. A coneflower plant’s disk florets do not all release pollen (reach anthesis) at the same time, as may be seen by paying close attention to the plant. Over the course of many days, the florets in the center of the disk open first and then move outward in succession. You may use this procession to gauge how much longer your bloom will live by watching it.

The disk florets might be black, white, yellow, dark burgundy, or orange. Echinacea ray flowers typically have pinkish-purple or, less frequently, yellow or white florets. Petal colors including orange, peach, salmon, and reddish-orange can now be found in newer hybrids, which have overcome this color barrier. The petals of wild-type echinacea can be held outward, but they are typically reflexed to varied degrees downward. Although the petals might be broad and overlap one another, they are often thin with room in between. Modern breeders have made strong selections for hybrids with outward-held, broad, overlapping ray florets. While Echinacea simulata and several contemporary hybrids have exceptionally sweet scents, the wild-type Echinacea purpurea frequently has only a faint aroma.

A robust, rigid, hirsute (hairy), typically unbranched stem (peduncle) that is at least 36″ tall holds the inflorescence. Cultivars with spectacular, widely-branched flower stalks, including Echinacea ‘The King’ and Echinacea ‘Elton Knight,’ are the exception to the rule of the unbranched stems. Along the length of the flower stalk, there may be tiny leaves that are widely spaced. produced in a profusion of overlapping inflorescences beginning in July and lasting until the first frost. Up to a dozen inflorescences may be open at once as a result of the overall effect.

How do I get Echinacea ready for the winter?

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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