Known for their use in herbal medicine, these herbaceous perennials have pretty, daisy-like flowers with a central cone, hence their common name. Their flowers come in glorious shades of pink, orange, yellow and red, as well as a range of flower forms—from the standard shuttlecock shape to horizontal ruffs to doubles with a powder-puff centre. Echinacea (Coneflower) ground cover foliage appear in early April and bears attractively lance shaped and dark green leaves with a slightly hairy texture. The flowers follow in June and last through to September – deadhead spent flowers to encourage new blooms (you could leave the seed heads in Autumn for the birds!).
Ideally grow Echinacea (Coneflower) ground cover in full sun for maximum colour, though they will tolerate partial shade . It will happily thrive in most soils so long as they are well-drained. Cut back any dead flowers and foliage in spring to allow for new growth. Once established they are fully hardy. Over time clumps can become congested so split these into two or three plants in late Autumn or early Spring and they will last for years.
As a rough guide when planting Echinacea as ground cover – 4 plants per square metre is adequate with a little patience, 6 will give better coverage, and 9-12 will make a weed supressing carpet very quickly.
How to grow Echinacea
Position: Full sun, partial shade
Soil and site: Well-drained – almost any soil except waterlogged
Flowering time: Mid-late Summer to late Autumn
Growth rate: Moderate
Ultimate height and spread: Height to 150cm, spread to 50cm depending on variety
Hardiness: Fully hardy once established
Aftercare: In early Spring cut back the flowered shoots and any dead foliage to ground level. After pruning feed with bonemeal and apply a generous mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant. Split congested clumps every few years in Autumn or early Spring.