The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor. Click here for details.
Purple coneflowers initially need an inch or so of water per week from rainfall or watering while they develop their taproot. Then they tolerate dry soil and do fine with much less water. They grow poorly in soggy soil, especially in the winter. If you have good soil with lots of organic matter and if your plants are continually mulched, they will need water only when it has not rained for a week or two. If you have poor soil with little organic content, or if you choose not to use mulch, then you may have to water young plants every few days when it does not rain and the weather is hot. For information on products see the file on Choosing Watering Equipment
During their first year or two sprinkle a handful of all-purpose slow-acting granular fertilizer on the soil around each group of coneflowers in the spring. Do not let it touch the newly emerging leaves or stems. Resist the temptation to over-fertilize, as this just invites disease problems and reduces flowering. If they are growing in fairly decent soil, there is no need to feed well-established cornflowers. For more information see the file for Choosing Fertilizers
To conserve soil moisture, especially during the hot weeks of summer when purple coneflowers bloom, spread a 1 or 2 inch layer of organic mulch on the soil around coneflower plants located in cultivated beds. Chopped leaves, wood chips, shredded bark or other attractive organic materials are good choices. Plants growing in natural meadow or woodland situations only need mulching when they are first planted.
Mulch also discourages weeds and provides a continuous source of organic matter and nutrients to improve the soil over plant roots as it gradually decomposes over the season. Renew the mulch when it decomposes to less than 2 inches thick. For more information see the file on Using Mulch
As befits their sturdy wildflower pedigree, purple coneflowers are very self-reliant. They need very little attention. Remove faded flowers to stimulate the development of new buds to prolong the bloom period and maintain an attractive appearance At the end of the season, you may cut back the dried stems to soil level. Many homeowners prefer to allow the faded blooms to age on the stems and remain after frost to provide seed for birds and winter interest in the yard.
Some of the taller coneflower types may benefit from staking to prevent damage from wind and heavy summer rains. For more information see the file Staking Flowers