(Asteraceae [also known as Compositae] - Daisy Family)
- medium-sized herbaceous perennial
- upright clump growth habit
- maturing at up to 3.5' tall by 1.5' wide
- full sun to partial shade
- performs best in evenly moist, well-drained soils of average fertility in partial sun, but is tolerant of full sun, heat, and drought (as long as a moderate amount of petal bleaching and leaf scorching is expected)
- propagated by clump division, root cuttings (not rooted stem cuttings, but cuttings from the peripheral roots), or by seeds
- Daisy Family, with minor foliage disease (leaf spot) or pest (Japanese Beetle) problems; however, leaf scorch is the most common problem and often occurs during drought periods
- abundantly available in container form
- cut back dead stubble from the previous season's growth during late Autumn, late Winter, or early Spring
- medium to dark green, either originating as a clump from the crown (basal leaves are up to 8" long) or alternating along the flowering stems (upper leaves are up to 4" long)
- narrow ovate, coarsely dentate, scabrous (rough to the touch), with a long-tapering acute apex, and also long-petioled (except for leaves on the upper stems), with the petioles and stems having a purplish tinge
- leaves will wilt when under drought conditions, but will recover with the evening dew
- ray flowers ("petals") are lavender-pink (species form) or white (some cultivars), on inflorescences about 3" wide, with the petals either drooping (species form) or held horizontally (most cultivars), while the central disk flowers are raised into a cone or dome shape, ranging from golden-purple to bronzy-green in color
- the stout peduncles (flowering stalks, or "stems") join the swollen receptacles (the bases of each flower), creating a subtle inverted pyramidal shape at the juncture that is often unnoticed beneath the reflexed petals, but becomes more obvious as the peduncles become fruiting stalks; in addition, the receptacle is covered with prickly coarse scales
- best floral performance occurs by putting this perennial in sites with morning sun followed by afternoon shade, so that the petal colors will not bleach out in the intense afternoon heat and sunlight of Summer
- overall, the floral shape of the species form resembles a "badminton birdie", with reflexed petals radiating from the central cone (however, most cultivars have horizontal petals)
- each of the stiff flowering stalks has several flowers blooming over a month-long period in July and early August, with occasional rebloom during late Summer and early Autumn, especially if deadheaded
- seeds as a unit form a prominent central cone that turns gray upon the arrival of Autumn, with seeds slowly shattering from the peduncle as the Winter progresses (if not dead-headed or subjected to fall cleanup), therefore, the fruiting heads are not especially ornamental
- ID Summary
- ovate basal leaves form a dense clump, having sparse but coarse serrations on long-tapering, acute apices, and much larger than leaves originating in alternate fashion along the flowering stalks; both are sandpapery to the touch, and often subject to some leafspots and leaf scorch as the season progresses
- stout, tall, scurfy flowering stalks swell below each composite flower, with the flowers opening over a month-long period on each stalk; the pink-lavendar ray flowers ("petals") reflex downward on the species form, but are held horizontally on most cultivars, while the disk flowers ("eye") forms a central cone that ranges from golden-purple to bronzy-green in color
- pink-flowering cultivars have newly emergent foliage, mature petioles, and mature peduncles that are tinged in purple, while white-flowering cultivars have all of these structures (plus foliage) that are lighter-green in color (and thus a good way to separate plants that you suspect of being mislabeled, before they flower)
- mass or group plantings, borders, entranceways, rear of the perennial bed, and naturalized prairie or woodland edge sites; also good for cut flowers
- medium-bold texture
- open density
- showy Summer flowers that are prominently borne atop the stout vertical peduncles
- heat and drought tolerant (although some leaf scorch and wilting will occur)
- will slowly self-sow when placed in a neglected area for true "naturalization"
- cosmetic leaf damage will result from leaf scorch, leaf spots, and/or Japanese Beetle feeding
- older plants that have not been divided for about three years will have some peduncle lodging as the flowering season progresses (these can conveniently be used for cut flowers)
- self-sowing can slowly become a problem in perennial beds
- zones 3 to 8
- native to Eastern North America
- perennials with a medium-bold texture, upright growth habit, showy flowers, and cut flower potential (Leucanthemum x superbum, Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii 'Goldsturm', Sedum 'Autumn Joy', etc.)
- Echinacea purpurea 'Crimson Star' - the most deeply pigmented crimson-lavender petals of any cultivar, with reddish central disks; a new introduction
- Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' - rose-lavender petals are held horizontally from the flowers, which are borne in profusion; 1998 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year ('Bravado' is a good substitute, if 'Magnus' is sold-out)
- Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' - white-cream petals, with golden-green central disks; a very worthwhile choice since it is one of the few showy white-blooming perennials for mid- to late-Summer bloom; leaves, petioles, and peduncles are also a lighter green color; unfortunately, this and other white-flowering cultivars (e.g. 'Alba') are not as vigorous, floriferous, tall, or cold-hardy as the pink-flowering forms
- Echinacea translates from the Greek as "hedge hog", referring to its prickly receptacle scales (just below the inflorescence, where it attaches to the swollen peduncle).
- purpurea translates as "purple", referring to the general petal color.
- Purple Coneflower is a representative of the showy North American perennials that are native to the once-common meadows and prairies, with bold texture and a striking, cool-color, Summer floral display.
- Echinacea purpurea is a perennial for sunny to partially shady sites, with a distinctive array of Summer-blooming pink-lavender or white-cream flowers (with the petals sometimes pendulous) atop stiff vertical peduncles that arise from a clump of coarse basal foliage.
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