Coneflower varieties grow in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 3 to 8. These plants prefer full sun, but will tolerate light shade. Coneflowers like loamy, fertile soil with adequate moisture content, however, they can endure long periods of drought with their deep roots. If you have problems with infertile soil, simply mix in vermiculite, mushroom compost or manure and your Coneflowers will grow beautifully. Water thoroughly once a week during the coneflower’s first growing season in your garden. Purple coneflower is a good choice for planting in the perennial flower garden. Pair them with coreopsis, ornamental grass, blanket-flowering black-eyed Susans, salvias and sedums for a native-to-Chicago flower garden that will additionally help to reduce storm water runoff in your area. These additional flowering perennials will give a long blooming season, add height and color variety of flowers and thrive in full sun with well-drained soil, just like purple coneflower (1).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Purple coneflower is the main ingredient in echinacea pills and herbal teas. Echinacea is taken during the winter months or when the seasons change to boost the immune system as a preventative against catching the cold or flu. It is used as an herbal remedy to decrease cold symptoms such as coughing and sore throat and shorten the length of the cold. Echinacea also is known to have anti-inflammatory properties (2).
Significance to Cultural Communities
Officially discovered by taxonomists in 1836, but in 1805 the explorers Louis and Clark sent Thomas Jefferson specimens of the plant from Fort Mandan during their famous exploration of the Louisiana Purchase lands. They referred to it as 'Mad Dog Plant' and in their packing list, state that it is "highly prized by the natives as an efficacious remidy in the Cases of the bite of the rattle Snake or "Mad Dog." By 1895, Echinacea purpurea was popular in European gardens as a medicinal herb and an ornamental flower (3).
Coneflowers in the Snow
a poem by Raymond A. Moss
Sentries, standing tall, erect
waiting for spring
the coneflowers in the snow
frozen in place
green long gone,
the brown turning to gray
the seeds still there
save for those the birds picked
standing with the flocks,
the other garden plants,
tall above the snow
1. Sweeney,k Sharon. Companion Plants for Coneflowers. eHow.com. http://www.ehow.com/info_8597340_companion-plants-coneflowers.html#ixzz2xVy9mGfy
2. Westover, Jessica. “Purple Coneflower Uses.” eHow.com. http://www.ehow.com/info_8475060_purple-coneflower-uses.html#ixzz2xW0I45b6
3. Carey, Dennis, Avent, Tony. “History of Purple Coneflowers.” Squidoo.com. January 2014. http://www.squidoo.com/history-of-purple-coneflowers