The Q&A Archives: Planting a Coneflower

Question: Hi
I am going to plant a coneflower this weekend in my backyard and need to know the following: how deep should I dig the hole in the yard? And, is there any type of soil that is preferable to use when planting a coneflower? I know that coneflowers can flourish in either partial or full sun, but I wanted to make sure that I plant it properly.

Answer: Coneflower (Echinacea) does best in at least a half day of sun including the hour of noon. All day sun is better, although it will tolerate shade for part of the day.

Allow a space about 18 inches across for the plant to grow.

It requires a location that is well drained, meaning the soil is not consistently saturated or sopping wet and not in a low spot where excess water collects. If you have heavy clay soil, you might try planting it on a slight slope or in a slightly raised bed, just a couple of inches will help.

This plant does fine in average soil so you should not need to add anything, but you could work in some compost or other organic matter such as rotted leaves. (Do not use bagged topsoil or potting soil.)

Loosen the soil over an area about 18 inches across and as deep as the container the plant comes in. Loosen any encircling or matted roots when you take it out of the container. Place the plant so it is no deeper than it grew in the container. It is better to plant a tiny bit high rather than too low. Set it in the soil and backfill, pressing gently but firmly to get good soil to root contact and eliminate air pockets. Then water thoroughly to settle the soil. Then mulch with an organic mulch about two to three inches deep. Cover the root area but keep it a few inches away from the plant's stems.

This plant is very drought tolerant once established, but since it is already getting into summer you may need to water it especially if there are some hot, dry spells. To see if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. When you do water, water slowly and deeply to encourage deep rooting. After watering, wait a few hours and dig down to see how far the water soaked in, sometimes it can be surprising.

Enjoy your new coneflower!

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