2014: Year of the Echincacea

Echinacea Hot PapayaEach year, the National Garden Bureau selects one annual, perennial and vegetable to be the plant of the season.  This year, the perennial they have selected is one that many people are familiar with and love to grow, echincacea.

Echinacea, or coneflower as it is commonly referred to, is a beautiful native perennial to our Illinois gardens. It is a classic choice for gardeners because it not only comes in a variety of colors, but it is low maintenance and a favorite among pollinators.

Echinacea comes from the same family as daisies, so they have a similar appearance with the large center with long petals protruding from this.  Some echinacea have a very cone-like appearance, with the petals dropping straight down from the center.  

Coneflowers need full sun to light shade to reach their potential in gardens.  They don’t necessarily need the best soil to grow, and are drought tolerant.  They are very easy to grow and make a huge impact when they are grown in mass plantings in the garden.  If their needs are met, they will keep blooming for you all summer long.  Come fall, rather than cut the dead flowers down, leave them for the birds. 

Not only do the birds like them in the fall and winter, but during the summer season as well. Butterflies, bees and other pollinators will make them a regular stop in your garden.  Echinacea is also fairly deer resistant. 

Another bonus of growing echinacea is that they are available in almost every color. From the traditional purple or light pink to newer colors like the lime or papaya, there is a color that will accent your garden beautifully.   

You can’t go wrong with planting echinacea in your garden. Low maintenance, native and a pollinator pleaser, it is easy to see why this garden staple was chosen as the National Garden Bureau’s perennial the year.

Christian Goers