Thursday, August 14, 2014

Flower Friday: Purple coneflower is rare summer stunner!

Photo by Stacey Matrazzo
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea

The striking bloom of the purple coneflower consists of a compact center of disc flowers that range in color from green to yellow-orange to brown, surrounded by long lavender to purple ray flowers. They form on erect stems that emerge from a basal rosette of arrow- to lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are dark green with toothed margins and a rough surface.

The nectar of purple coneflower attracts a variety of butterflies, bees and even hummingbirds, while its seeds are eaten by birds and other wildlife.

Purple coneflower is an endangered Florida native wildflower, found naturally growing only in Gadsen County.

Family: Asteraceae (Aster family)
Hardiness: North, Central and parts of South Florida (Zones 7–10)
Soil: Well-drained sand, clay or loamy soil
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 2–3+ feet tall with a 2-3 foot spread
Garden tips: Purple coneflower is easily propagated by seeds or division and does well in almost any garden setting. It is drought-tolerant and doesn’t require a lot in the way of maintenance. 

Note: When buying purple coneflower, be sure you are buying Florida stock. Big box stores typically obtain their plants from out-of-state stock, and those plants don’t do as well here as plants grown from Florida stock. It is best to purchase seeds or plants from a local grower. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area.

To see where purple coneflower occurs naturally, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3804.

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