Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) goes to the Asteraceae family members and bears dailylike flowers on straight stems above clumps of dense foliage. Flowers generally bloom from spring until frost. Echinacea flowers are usually used as boundaries, in containers and also in gardens planted along with other perennials. Purple coneflower has features which differentiate it from other coneflowers.
Purple coneflower has coarsely toothed foliage that forms a dense clump from which tall, stiff stems emerge. Purple coneflower grows a single blossom atop a 2- to 5-foot stem. The flowers have droopy, lavender petals that surround a purplish-brown, spiky, domed center. Otherwise deadheaded, flowers heads turn into your bristly seed head that pulls finches. The purple coneflower looks like its close relative Rudbeckia spp.
Purple coneflower is an easy-to-care-for perennial and hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 9. Plants thrive in well-drained soil, but do tolerate drought, making them perfect for xeriscaping. Purple coneflower prefers full sun, but tolerates light shade, especially in warm weather; shade enhances the color of the petals. Plants readily self-sow if blossom heads are left to produce seed, but plants aren’t known to be invasive.
Purple coneflower is a low-maintenance plant and propagation is typically accomplished by seed. Plants don’t like their roots disturbed, thus don’t split unless the plants look crowded. After division, plants are known to create numerous stems and several flowers. Deadheading promotes new flower growth, extending the blooming period. Removing spent flowers also prevents self-sowing. Flower heads that stay on stems create a winter interest as well as the seeds attract birds.
Purple coneflowers’ long, stiff stems make them excellent for cut flowers, but they also have many different uses. Since they are long-bloomers, groups of purple coneflowers are usually planted in places such as boundaries, meadows and gardens that are crocheted. Plants are frequently grouped in mass plantings along with black-eyed Susans to create a wildflower or woodland garden.