One way to get an early start on the growing season is by planting seeds indoors. One of the plants that are great for indoor gardening is echinacea, which grows well in pots and needs very little care to grow.
Echinacea is also called coneflower because it has tall stems with beautiful pink flowers at the top; many people use this plant as a decorative accent during summer months when they may not be blooming outside anymore.
The following instructions will help you plant your echinacea plant outside after they have grown in your home.
Table of Contents
- 1 Plant Information
- 2 How To Sow Indoors
- 3 Transplanting Potted Plants into your Garden
- 4 Sowing Directly in the Garden
- 5 Growing Echinacea Garden Tips
- 6 Harvesting
- 7 Common Pests
- 8 Common Diseases
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
- 10 Author
The Echinacea plant is a popular perennial in a genus of nine species in the daisy family, Asteraceae. The most common and well-known member of this genus is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), which blooms from late summer through fall with purple or pink flowers on plants that grow 2-3 feet tall.
It’s easy to understand why these beautiful flowers are popular for gardening because they attract butterflies and other pollinators, produce long-lasting cut flowers, provide edible roots and make a great addition to bouquets.
How To Sow Indoors
Echinacea seeds are a hardy perennial that thrives in USDA Zones 3-8.
Seeds can take 8-10 weeks to sprout, so if you want your plants to grow before planting them outside make sure to start as early as possible.
1) Echinacea seeds can be sown indoors using a seed starter kit in March or April for planting outdoors after 8-10 weeks when the temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You can start them earlier if you live in zones 9 or 10 where winters are warmer.
2) When you sow echinacea seeds indoors, you need to sprinkle some seeds on the surface and cover the seeds lightly with 1/4 inch of seed starting mix.
3) Keep them in the dark and moist at a temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit until germination occurs.
4) Seedlings will start to sprout after 10-25 days.
5) Once sprouts appear, you can place them in an area that receives at least 4 hours of sunlight a day such as a windowsill. If you do not have a window that receives enough sunlight, you can start them indoors under artificial light, but they will eventually need access to natural light for proper growth and development.
6) Echinacea will need transplanting when it reaches 2-3″ inches tall, but don’t do it too soon. It’s best to wait until the plants have two sets of leaves before you transplant them into bigger 5″ inch pots. To do this, carefully remove them from the seed starter kit cells, being careful not to damage roots too much as you remove them.
7) Planting outside in the garden is a new experience for your seedling plants. It can be hard on them and even potentially kill them, so you need to “harden off” your plant before planting it. What does this mean? Hardening off means getting your plant used to being outdoors by gradually introducing it to its new environment.
8) The first step is putting them outside in a sheltered area for a few hours each day until they are ready for direct sunlight.
9) They will also need some time with high humidity and low wind or rain. Doing this will eliminate the transplant shock when moving the plant into the garden.
Transplanting Potted Plants into your Garden
Planting echinacea in the garden is a popular choice for those who want to enjoy this plant’s beauty year-round.
1) First, select a location with full sun and well-draining organic soil.
2) Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 5-10 inches removing any debris.
3) Add aged manure or compost if you have it available as these will provide nutrients and improve drainage. If not, fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer prior to planting.
4) Dig a hole for the plant that is the correct size for the root ball.
5) Moisten the soil in the potted plant a bit so that it’s easier to remove.
6) Unpot the plant by gently tapping on the bottom of the pot, take care not to damage roots or break off any branches.
7) Place into a hole and fill with soil, press down firmly but be careful not to make too much.
Sowing Directly in the Garden
Growing echinacea outside has some benefits such as higher yield and more color variation in the flower petals.
1) To sow seeds directly outdoors, wait until late summer when the soil has warmed up enough to create an even layer of topsoil for your seedlings to get started.
2) When sowing echinacea directly into the garden it is important to plant them in a spot where they will get plenty of sun for the best results.
3) Remove weeds and make sure the soil is evenly moist before sowing the seeds.
4) Echinacea does not like wet soil so be sure to choose an area with well-drained soil before planting.
5) Cover the seeds with soil and keep moist for 10-20 days until seedlings appear.
Growing Echinacea Garden Tips
Echinacea is a beautiful flowering plant that can be grown outdoors. It’s easy to grow, and it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
- Echinacea is a plant that thrives in the sun. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, so place it somewhere with adequate light if you want it to grow.
- Weeds are the number one enemy of any garden, so keep them under control during the growing season by removing them.
- Mulches will help keep the soil moist and cool during hot days while also controlling weeds.
- Watering once a week preferably early to water in the morning should suffice for this type of plant as long as you use mulch.
- Once new growth emerges, you can apply a light fertilizer to help with growth. Mix in a few inches of compost, manure or organic matter.
- Remove dead flower heads to prevent seeds and to promote steady flowering.
Echinacea can be harvested from July to September depending on where you live in North America. The best time to harvest echinacea is when it starts to flower, but before the flowers open up fully. Once the flowers have opened they will turn into seeds.
To harvest Echinacea, one must cut off the flower stem just below the head of flowers in order to prevent unwanted side shoots from forming at its base. The roots should also be removed for use in cooking or drying them for later use as medicine.
The Echinacea flowers can attract pests. Pests on Echinacea plants are not usually damaging enough to warrant pest control methods, but they can make the garden look less attractive. Pests may include: aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, mites and more!
There are several ways you can deal with these pests, but the most natural method is by using a spray bottle mixed with a soap and water. Spraying the pest directly with the solution will usually result in its death.
Alternaria Leaf Spot: This disease is caused by a fungus called Alternaria that can be transferred to your Echinacea plant from other infected plants in the garden.
Powdery Mildew: The powdery mildew is a form of infection that will manifest itself on your echinacea plant’s leaves, flowers, and stems as an abundance of white or gray fuzz.
Aster Yellows: Aster yellows is a viral disease that will infect your echinacea plant’s flowers and leaves.
Botrytis: It is also known as gray mold, is an infection caused by the fungus called Botrytis cinerea.
Sclerotinia Crown Rot: This fungal infection appears as brown to black spots on the surface of leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to grow Echinacea from seed?
It takes about 12 months to grow echinacea from seed. If you plant the seeds in the fall, they will take around 9-10 months to germinate and sprout their first leaves. You can expect the plants to reach maturity in late summer or early fall of the following year.
Growing echinacea is a long process that may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in having your own garden, it’s worth it! It is important to have patience.
Does Echinacea come back every year?
Yes. Echinacea is a perennial plant that will bloom in the spring, and then it dies in late summer or early fall. When its flowering season comes around again, it begins to grow anew.
If you want your echinacea to keep coming back for years to come, make sure you plant them in rich soil with plenty of sun exposure and water them well until they are established.
Should I deadhead my echinacea?
Yes you should to prevent it from reseeding itself all over the garden. If you are growing echinacea in your garden, then you have probably been noticing some of its flowers wilt and turn brown.
If this is happening, don’t worry because it’s a natural process called “deadheading.” Deadheading refers to cutting off the wilted flower heads before they can release their seeds so that they won’t spread around the garden next year.
How do you keep echinacea blooming?
There are many ways to keep echinacea blooming, but one of the most popular is by deadheading. Deadheading means cutting off the flowers so that it will produce more flowers later on in the season.
Deadheading not only helps with growing more plants, but also increases plant health and vigor. When you cut off a flower stalk, you break down some of the sugars and starches in that stalk into usable energy for other parts of the plant.
Does Echinacea flower the first year?
There are many misconceptions about Echinacea and one of them is that it flowers the first year. No, Echinacea does not always flower well in its first year because they are trying to establish themselves.
The plant usually takes two years before flowering, but some may flower in their first year with adequate water, fertilization, sun exposure, light levels, temperature range and good genetics.
The most common reason for poor flowering is incorrect planting depth or potting mix. Forcing a spindly root system to stretch too far will cause weak branching and shallow roots.
How long does Echinacea bloom?
It will typically bloom for about 2 months before wilting away and dying, which is from June to August in the Northern Hemisphere.
Why is my Echinacea dying?
There are many reasons why your echinacea plant may be dying. The most common reason is poor soil drainage, usually causing root rot or a fungal disease, which will kill the plant. To avoid this you should check that there is no standing water in the pot and that it drains freely.
You can also improve drainage by planting in raised beds and filling them with gravel or broken pots to increase air circulation. Other reasons for echinacea death include too much shade, and over-watering.