Native Plant Spotlight – Purple Coneflower

Native to North America, Purple Coneflower, or Echinacea is a great addition to any garden.  This plant is great for pollinators, as a food-source for wildlife, and is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  

I have a row of this hearty perennial along my driveway.  It is very low maintenance.  Some weeks grow between them, mostly grasses, but they don’t seem to out-compete the coneflower or cause any real harm.  The coneflower are tall enough in their blooming phase that you can’t even really notice the weeds.  I have not watered my coneflower since the year they were established.  They are very drought tolerant and water efficient.  The only thing I do to maintain them is dead-heading in the summer to keep new blooms coming.  Deer also do not browse them.  Other animals do though, however, generally these are the animals that are welcome in a garden.  

From the first blooms of the year in late June or early July, Echinacea is beaming with life all around it. Pollinators seem to love these flowers as bees, butterflies, wasps, flies, and all kinds of insects can be found buzzing around them.  All day long there is activity.  The pollinators are great, but they are not my favorite visitor to these great flowers.  In the fall, when most of the blooms are seed heads they become a magnet for goldfinches.  There are other birds that eat and disperse the seeds too, but the goldfinches are the most spectacular.  I never manage to get my camera ready to get a true closeup, but I often see them out of the window, run to get my camera and most of the time get an image before they fly away.  Granted, not the best of images.  I should just keep my telephoto lens hooked up all fall ready for these fleeting visits.  

Goldfinch on Coneflower – It’s hard to get a good quality image of these brilliant little guys up close! This is about the best I’ve managed to do.

Echinacea has some medicinal uses, although I will not comment on that because I am not familiar enough with the science or uses to discuss.  According to the NIH, some studies have been done in Germany, but more study is needed to determine how effective it is, and for what.  That does not mean it is not effective, Native Americans have used it as medicine for centuries, it’s just that the science is not yet understood. Hopefully more research will be done soon to better understand this native medicinal plant.   

Looking for an easy to maintain perennial, that is drought and deer tolerant, and is a great host to desirable wildlife?  Look no further than Echinacea or Purple Coneflower! 

Want to add more life to your garden? Add some of Purple Coneflower!


Published by scottmeneely

Gardener passionate about organic gardening, fresh food, sustainable landscaping, home brewing, and much more! Our nursery also includes my wife and 2 kids. We work together, learn together, and travel together. My wife is Panamanian and we try to grow lots of good Latin American ingedients. We live in Baldwin, Pennsylvania in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

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