Common Name: Purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea is an herbaceous perennial up to 120 cm tall by 25 cm wide at maturity. Depending on the climate, it blooms throughout spring to late summer. When in full bloom, Echinacea will attract both butterflies and bees to the garden.
Echinacea is fairly drought tolerant once established, though you will need to water your plants throughout the summer if you receive less than an inch of rain each week. As native prairie plants, echinacea thrive in hot, dry climates but can handle a range of temperature and humidity fluctuations. They do not do as well in very humid climates or in rainy areas where the soil stays wet.
Coneflowers grow well from seed and can be divided or grown from stem cuttings. Echinacea may not bloom during the first year after sowing, with blooming often taking place in the second year. Once your Echinacea is at least three years old, you can begin harvesting some of the roots for medicinal purposes.
In indigenous medicine of the native American Indians, the plant was used externally for wounds, burns, and insect bites, chewing of roots for toothache and throat infections; internal application was used for pain, cough, stomach cramps, and snake bites. Nowadays the plant is important to the pharmaceutical trade, as it is purported that all parts of the purple coneflower stimulate the immune system.
How to grow Echinacea from seed:
They are easy to grow from seed. The seeds germinate best with some cold stratification. The easiest method is to sow them outdoors in autumn, either in the ground or winter sowing them in pots. If you are going to start seed indoors, simulate the chilling period by soaking the seeds in water and then placing the slightly damp seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 weeks. Then, take them out and plant as you normally would. They should germinate within 10 to 14 days.