Small Steps: How and Why to Grow Heirloom Echinacea Coneflowers to Increase Chances for Pollinator Habitats and Everday Natural Beauty

Small Steps: How and Why to Grow Heirloom Echinacea Coneflowers to Increase Chances for Pollinator Habitats and Everday Natural Beauty

Purple coneflowers, also known as Echinacea purpurea, are a popular heirloom and easy-to-grow perennial flower that is native to North America. Not only are they beautiful and easy to care for, but they also provide a number of benefits to butterflies and other pollinators. But we might be able to help in small ways simply by adding them to our lawns so that a habitat for pollinators (not to mention the aesthtic beauty they provide) can be part of our everyday lives.

Let's go over how easy it is to grow the purple coneflower, its requirements, and the benefits it provides to butterflies and other pollinators. Then, I'll try to show the points of why replacing parts of your lawn, or even putting these flowers in a container near your home, is an option for taking small steps every day to improve habitats.

Requirements for Growing

Purple coneflowers are easy to grow and require very little maintenance. They prefer well-drained soil and full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. They are drought-tolerant and can be grown in a variety of soil types. They can be planted in the spring or fall and will typically bloom from mid-summer to early fall.


Benefits for Butterfly Population

Purple coneflowers are a great food source for butterflies and other pollinators. Their nectar-rich flowers provide a much-needed source of food for adult butterflies, while their seeds provide food for butterfly larvae. Additionally, purple coneflowers are a host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly, which lays its eggs on the leaves of the plant. By growing purple coneflowers, you can help support the populations of these important pollinators.

Where to Plant

Container gardening:

As for container gardening, purple coneflowers can be grown in containers, but they do require a bit more maintenance than when they are grown in the ground. In order to grow well in containers, coneflowers will need to be planted in a larger container with well-draining soil, and they will need to be watered more frequently.

It’s important to keep in mind that container gardening can also limit the size of the plant, and also the root system, as well as expose the plant to more heat stress in hot weather, so if you are planning to grow purple coneflowers in a container, make sure to choose a large container and to provide regular watering and fertilization.

Keep an eye on the soil moisture, and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely and that the drainage is good. In addition, coneflowers grown in containers will also need to be fertilized more often than those grown in the ground.

Consider using a slow-release fertilizer, which will provide the plant with the nutrients it needs over an extended period of time, or you can also use a liquid fertilizer to feed your container plants every two weeks.

Put in your lawn? 
It’s easy to plant Purple Coneflowers:

1) First, aerate the lawn or dig small holes throughout the lawn areas where you intend to plant Echinacea.
2) Start plants inside, or directly sow into lawn at the beginning of Spring when any chance of frost has passed.
3) Mark the areas of the lawn where you have planted the Purple Coneflowers and ensure that you do not mow or trample upon them.
4) Watch as the beautiful flowers begin to sprout and grow with your lawn and beautify the neighborhood.


Companion Plantings

Yes, there are several vegetables and flowers that complement purple coneflowers well and can be planted together in a garden bed. Here are a few examples:

  1. Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) are a great companion plant for purple coneflowers. They have similar growing requirements and bloom at the same time, creating a beautiful and cohesive display in the garden.

  2. Asters (Aster spp.) are another great companion for purple coneflowers. They come in a variety of colors and bloom late in the season, providing a late-season nectar source for pollinators.

  3. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can also be planted with purple coneflowers. These vegetables are often planted in raised beds or containers, which can be placed near the purple coneflowers.

  4. If you want to go for a more wildflower look, you can plant wildflowers such as Gaillardia, Coreopsis, and Salvia. These wildflowers will attract a variety of pollinators and beneficial insects to your garden, and they will also grow well with purple coneflowers.

  5. Other plants like lavender, yarrow, and basil are also great companion to purple coneflowers. They are known for their good companion planting qualities and would make a good addition to your garden.

Remember that when companion planting, it’s important to consider the specific growing conditions, water needs, and sunlight needs of each plant. And, it’s also good to keep in mind the space you have available in your garden.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.