Purple Coneflower – Ornamental Plant of the Week for September 16, 2013

Richard C. Bogren, Owings, Allen D.

One of the most popular herbaceous perennials in Louisiana is the purple coneflower. The scientific name of this plant is Echinacea purpurea. It is native to a geographic area from the Midwest into the Southeastern United States.

Purple coneflowers are drought-tolerant, tough, and long-lived. Flowering usually starts in late April or early May. You can get good re-bloom on most coneflowers through summer and fall. Fall is a great time to add coneflowers to the landscape.

Flower petals in coneflowers have typically been in the soft lavender to purple color ranges. Now white forms are available. Magnus is a popular variety that was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1998. This selection has vibrant, rose-purple flowers. Bravado is a variety with 4- to 5-inch fragrant flowers. White Swan is a white-flowering form. A new seed-propagated series of coneflowers, the Pow Wow variety available in White and Wild Berry, are now popular and are All-America Selection winners.

What can you do to help coneflowers perform ideally? These plants prefer a mostly sunny location with well-drained soil. You can buy coneflowers at the garden center in 4-inch pots, quarts or gallon containers. A light application of a slow-release fertilizer is recommended at planting and once or twice annually thereafter. Mulch with pine straw or a similar material. Remove old flowers to encourage faster re-bloom. Coneflowers are reliably perennial in Louisiana.

Coneflowers have long been favorites with gardeners across the South. Use them in a perennial planting with buddleia, rudbeckias, salvia, coreopsis, lantanas, Shasta daisies, verbenas or other hardy favorites. Butterflies love purple coneflowers.

Late summer through fall is a great time to add new flowering perennials to your landscape. The new selections in this old garden plant are making it highly desired for our Louisiana landscapes.

Rick Bogren
Allen Owings

9/13/2013 11:54:06 PM
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