Echinacea is a beautiful, drought-tolerant and medical plant. Thus, many gardeners like to plant it in their garden. In fact, Echinacea is attractive when planted by itself. Additionally, it can be cut for a bouquet, even in winter, standing long in a vase without losing its decorative qualities. Generally, Echinacea begins to bloom in early summer, and its long blooming is very valuable for growing in the garden. Depending on the growth location, it may bloom in late summer as well, when many flowers have already faded. Echinacea is a tall plant, reaching up to 4ft (1.2 m) and 20inches (50cm) around, so these flowers can decorate lawns either in a group or some single landing. Echinacea is a perennial plant that is widespread in eastern and central parts of the United States. Therefore, it can be grown everywhere in the USDA areas from 2a to 10b. Its rootstock is short, with numerous thin roots and a few stems.
The Growing Conditions of Echinacea
In gardens with loamy or loam sandy soils, Echinacea feels very comfortable. It can withstand dry conditions, and is even responsive to moderate watering. Echinacea blooms well in the sunny openings, but it may also grow in slight shade. Its flowers look like hedgehog’s needles in the middle which is why it is called ‘Echinacea’ in Greek. In general, there are 9 species of Echinacea Echinacea, but the most decorative is Echinacea purpurea. This is a large plant with the same large flowers which can reach a diameter of 4 - 5inches (10-12.5sm): purple downcast petals around a dark middle. There have been derived varieties with double flowers as well, for example, ‘Pink Double Delight’ or ‘Razzamataz’.
How to Plant Echinacea Purpurea?
Echinacea purpurea reproduces via radical layers and seeds. You can buy Echinacea either in a container or plant it in the garden. This type of planting can be done at any time of the year. To do this, dig a hole 1ft (30sm) deep and fill a third of it with a mixture of garden soil, sand, and decomposed organic fertilizer (manure, compost) at a ratio of 2:1:1. Remember that the soils should be slightly alkaline or neutral. Echinacea without a container should be put into a pit that equals the depth of this container. Backfill the space between the soil ball with roots and the pit walls with the prepared mixture, and carefully tighten. Then, water the seedbed.
If you want to split up an Echinacea bush, then do it in the Fall. You can divide the bush in Spring too, when the plant has not begun growing yet. There must be at least 1 point of growth at the rootstock. Thus, it is separated from the mother plant and is planted in the soil at the same depth. The distance between the plants is 18 inches (45cm).
You can also plant Echinacea seeds, as long as they do not stratify.
Sow the seeds of Echinacea in the spring, when the air temperature is 55.4 F (13 C), at a depth of 0.5-1 sm. Then, sprinkle the seeds with sand. The soil should be moist after planting.
You should know that the crops spring up slowly, and sprouts appear within 40 days. In the first year, the rosette of leaves usually appears, but during the second year, the Echinacea blooms.
Flowering can be achieved even in the first year, but only if you plant the seedlings in late February. Then, when the sprouts get stronger and the likelihood of frost passes, you can plant them in permanent places for 4 - 5 years.
Echinacea should be regularly watered in the dry season, as it blooms better. In addition, the around soil has to be weeded out. If the Echinacea blooms badly, it is necessary to feed it with compost and remove all the faded flowers. After autumn flowering, Echinacea is trimmed and the bushes are fertilized with organic fertilizers or fertile garden soil. At this time, you can divide and reset the plant. Luckily, Echinacea is rarely affected by diseases and pests.
Medicinal Properties of Echinacea Purpurea
Echinacea purpurea starts developing its medical properties in the plant age of 2. During the flowering period, you can cut leaves, flowers, and stems of this plant because it possesses maximum biologically active substances. Actually, Echinacea purpurea stimulates the immune system and helps living in ecologically unfavorable conditions. In addition, it is considered to be an anti-infective agent, preventing many inflammatory processes in the human body. One should know that there are plenty of different preparations made on the basis of Echinacea purpurea.
Undoubtedly, having an Echinacea in your garden is extremely useful and beautiful.