Of coneflowers thrust skyward
Calling bees to feast
With all the rain we have had recently, there are blooms “busting out all over” here in the Heartland. The star of the show this time of year, though, is the purple coneflower, and I wanted to give her center stage today.
When I started my first small perennial flowerbed 6 or 7 years ago, the one flower I knew I wanted to plant was the purple coneflower. I had seen them in gardens all around the area and thought they were “pretty.” In my near-total state of ignorance about flower gardening, I didn’t realize what an excellent choice I had made. I didn’t know that they were native to this area and that they attracted bees and butterflies.
The coneflowers have never failed me, and I’ve grown to love them more each year. They are definitely my favorite perennial.
In the past month Gail at Clay and Limestone has written a few posts about the purple coneflower. In an early one she identified a native species called Echinacea Tennesseensis. This intrigued me; if
I found a very informative website about the
Little of the original prairie still exists in
My great-great-grandparents settled in this area in the 1870’s, buying land (for $2 an acre!) that had never been tilled. I wonder if they saw any seas of coneflowers when they arrived.
Besides its lovely, long-lasting blooms, the Echinacea is drought-resistant, will grow in many different soil types, and has few disease or insect problems. What is there not to like about this plant?!
The center globes attract butterflies . . .
In the winter the seed cones attract birds in search of food. ( This does bring up a question: what do you do when the flower has stopped blooming and the stems begin to dry up? I have left mine to stand all winter, but for aesthetic purposes, I wish I could break them off as soon as they have dried up. I would love to hear your comments on this.) And, of course, they do self-seed sometimes. I showed a photo of all my echinacea seedlings in a post earlier this spring; I must have had a couple dozen little babies. I transplanted some, pulled others, and left a few to fend for themselves. They're pretty tough plants.
There are many new varieties of the coneflower, including those in the “Big Sky” series, and I do hope to plant a few of those soon. But they are definitely pricier than the common Echinacea purpurea, and have not proven to be as hardy.
Anthony Kahtz, author of Perennials for
I do have many other blooms in my garden right now, including some surprise daylilies and my poor knockout roses struggling to survive the Japanese beetle attacks, but I think I’ll save them for another post. I don’t want anything to take attention away from today’s star.
“If you are a new gardener or just want a plant that is reliable, purple coneflower will leave you feeling like an expert.” ( Kahtz ) Ah, no wonder I like them!
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her to see other posts today.