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Plant of the Week: Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflowers are the bloomiest plants in summer, attracting many pollinators. Their tall stems are great for cutting and add height to the garden. Nearing the end of the gardening year, coneflowers are not in bloom, but their seedheads offer a plethora of uses in the garden and home.

Echinacea, or coneflower, is native to North America. There are 10 species of Echinacea, with purple coneflower being the most widely distributed. Here in Kansas, we have 4 species, but only 2 are common.

Purple coneflower with bumblebee

Coneflowers are one of the most well-known and widely planted perennials in U.S. gardens. There is nearly every color of the rainbow, thanks in part to breeding efforts. You can plant them in all sorts of environments and soils, except full shade and standing water.

I like to use purple coneflower in mass plantings in my perennial sun beds. They are attractive bloomers from May to September, and I see lots of bees and butterflies on them. The flowers are light pink to lavender in color.

Coneflowers have only a few pest to mention. Some checkerspot butterflies and moths use them as host plants. They also can get powdery mildews and leaf spots in wet summers.

Most coneflowers grow 2 to 4 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. In autumn and winter, the dried seedheads are eaten by goldfinches and other birds. You can also use both fresh and dried flowers in arrangements.

The best cultivars of purple coneflowers for you garden are from the Sombrero Series. You can buy these or the straight species from us. Or come to the garden center at 2991 Goldfinch Road, Hiawatha, KS or in Nebraska City, NE.

Happy planting!

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