Echinacea is a widely respected medicinal herb that is native to Eastern North America. So much so that several variietes have been cultivated with the intent of improving upon the original wildflower.
Echinicea is a tall hardy perennial that is easily grown in Zones 3 – 10. It was originally used to treat wounds. In addition to its antiseptic properties, it is also used to boost immune systems.
Echinicea is so easy to start from seed that it can be direct seeded in the garden. For early indoor starts, it is best to wait until just a month before last frosts. Transplant seedlings at least a foot apart.
Echinacea will grow almost anywhere … from full sun to part shade. In poor soil it will reach at least two feet and in well nourished soil it can easily reach four feet. For best results, do not harvest any part of new plants until the second or third year.
In addition to the native echinacea purpurea, there are cultivated varieties. thes are the ones that I know of:
- Magnus and
- White Swan – both of which are easy to start from seed
- Ruby Giant, which is not available in seed
- Narrowleaf, and
- Pale Purple – both of which are difficult to start from seed
- Yellow Echinacea which can be tricky to start from seed
This plant makes a splendid ornamental as it flowers almost all summer long.
For medicinal purposes, it is best to wait to harvest the roots until after the first hard frosts when the rest of the plant begins to die back.. Please note that although the crown can be replanted, the ‘new’ plant will be more ornamental than medicinal.
Although this is a hardy plant, it will benefit from a heavy mulch of the straw before winter.