Ask a Question forum: Germination questions - Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea)

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Name: Michael
Foley, Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Michaelgardens
Nov 19, 2015 11:19 PM CST
I have never grown and would appreciate any tips on germinating Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea). I have heard cold conditioning the seed is recommended. I was unsuccessful doing it artificially so I would plan to try it naturally. As fall is here in the deep south (southern edge of zone 8b - 9a is only a short mile away) I would guess now is the time to get them into the ground?
Any help on germination procedures, location, drainage, likes, dislikes. Any information at all :)

Thanks,
Michael
Veggies and fruits for the body, flowers shrubs and foliage for the soul...and all these for the insects of course:)
Name: Kayleigh
(Zone 5a)
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HoosierHarvester
Nov 20, 2015 7:38 AM CST
Winter sowing is a good method for germinating echinacea seeds, sowing in the late fall, as that is how they germinate natural ocurring. But to me, if you didn't get germination *artificially*, then perhaps the seeds aren't viable. Artificially to me would be sowing the seeds in a seed starting mix, moistening the mix, placing something over the container to retain moisture, then placing the container in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks; then back to 60-70 for germination. As for winter sowing (or late fall sowing), if you sow the seeds direct to the garden location (in ground), you run the risk of the seeds being washed away or eaten by birds or whatever, and not knowing the seedling ID, could be weeded out. If sowing them outdoors, I still would suggest sowing them in a large container filled with potting mix (not soil) and left where the pot gets ample moisture. Germination would be when the weather warms in spring.
Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
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Chillybean
Nov 20, 2015 12:22 PM CST
I've never had success with cold stratification in the fridge. The seed was fresh from a native plant nursery, so I trust its good. Because we're trying to expand our prairie patches, we just throw the seed over an area and hope for the best. One variety I could not get to germinate after putting in the fridge, did eventually germinate outside.

If anything, be patient with native seeds. I had winter sowed some Swamp Milkweed and nothing came up the following year, but it did the year after that.

Same is true with the seed mixes, some plants came up right away, but others took two years and I suspect (hope) more will come later. The Echinacea Purpurea in that seed mix (our first planting) took two years. The first native patch, the soil was about as bad as you can get. The seed mix was specifically for clay subsoil, such as we had after construction. There are some weeds in that patch, but there is also a grand showing of the natives.

If this is a plant you really want and you have the means to do so, find a native nursery local to you and get some dormant roots or plugs. I will do seeds out in our wild areas, but I have less patience for them around the yard. I want to know what is weed and what is not.
Name: Michael
Foley, Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Michaelgardens
Nov 20, 2015 10:43 PM CST
Thanks HoosierHarvester for the insight. I used cold stratification in the fridge. It was my first attempt and I was not sure of my process. The seed is of good quality and from a reputable source so I believe it is viable. I do believe I will try the method you suggest with potting mix over the winter and hope for a spring emergence.

HoosierHarvester said:Winter sowing is a good method for germinating echinacea seeds, sowing in the late fall, as that is how they germinate natural ocurring. I still would suggest sowing them in a large container filled with potting mix (not soil) and left where the pot gets ample moisture. Germination would be when the weather warms in spring.


Veggies and fruits for the body, flowers shrubs and foliage for the soul...and all these for the insects of course:)
Name: Michael
Foley, Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Michaelgardens
Nov 20, 2015 10:48 PM CST
Thanks Chillybean.
Cold stratification is what I used but I was not familiar or comfortable with the process. I will check my local nurseries if I am not able to succeed with seeding but definitely want to try from seed first. I will be patient Smiling

Chillybean said:I've never had success with cold stratification in the fridge.
If this is a plant you really want and you have the means to do so, find a native nursery local to you and get some dormant roots or plugs.


Veggies and fruits for the body, flowers shrubs and foliage for the soul...and all these for the insects of course:)
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Nov 22, 2015 12:29 AM CST
Try this for cold stratification. Lightly moisten some sand & peat mix - barely moist - not soaking. Mix in seeds. Put in crisper for 60 days or so. Then plant in seed trays in a window sill or under lights. Barely cover the seeds.

Outside scratch them into the soil. Barely cover. Mark the area so you do not forget.

I have personally found Purple Coneflower to be easy to germinate and grow. They do NEED cold stratification.

Good luck
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Arturo Tarak
Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentin
hampartsum
Nov 22, 2015 8:29 AM CST
hello I tried cold stratification for many seeds, including Echinacea purpurea! I discovered with time that its best to sow a small amount of seeds in damp coarse sand perhaps 3/4 sand 1/4 the seeds kept in a covered plastic container such as a Philadelphia cream cheese pot and let it stand in the refrigerator from four to 8 weeks according to the species requirement and then "sow" the entire mix in lines in a tray filled with ordinary seed compost. By doing so, one can watch emergence along the lines and avoid confusion with weeds that can sprout anywhere. Getting seeds to try new species is quite a difficult venture this far south so they are great treasures when I get hold of some. I partition my seeds so that I can give them a try during few differing times. Unless I start off from seeds, I have no other choice since the cultivars are not in the gardening trade nearby. I prefer controlled conditions so later the trays are placed in a cool greenhouse. They only come outside to be transplanted in the follwing spring. I'm fortunate to have a small greenhouse that allows me enough room for all my experimental trial vegetables as well as for the rare ornamentals that I am able to lay hands on. Warm regards Arturo
[Last edited by hampartsum - Nov 22, 2015 8:30 AM (+)]
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Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
Nov 22, 2015 4:38 PM CST
I have sowed Echinacea purpurea and cultivars at normal room temperature in spring several times and had good germination. I haven't done this to be experimental, but rather because that has always been one of the recommended methods from the places where I purchased them. I seen this recommendation many places, including gardening forums in Sweden. True I have managed to have 100% loss of the young seedlings to damping off, but they have definitely germinated this way .

I've read that sometimes certain traits (such as quick germination) which are desirable in cultivation are present to a larger degree in cultivated seeds as the gardener tends to select these seedlings first, but in nature such seeds could be killed by winter. Not sure if this would account for differences here as any seeds found in Europe, for sure would be from cultivated stock, but that would perhaps not always be true in the USA.

If the seeds refuses to germinate at warm temperature, they can always be chilled afterwards (but don't let them freeze) as long as they haven't rotted from too wet soil. In fact it's often helpful to let seeds swell a bit before cold treatment as this mimics nature, but of course this can depend on the species as well.

Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Nov 22, 2015 5:04 PM CST
I agree

And I too have had my share of losses from damping off. Grumbling
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Nov 23, 2015 8:46 AM CST
Michaelgardens said:I have never grown and would appreciate any tips on germinating Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea). I have heard cold conditioning the seed is recommended. I was unsuccessful doing it artificially so I would plan to try it naturally. As fall is here in the deep south (southern edge of zone 8b - 9a is only a short mile away) I would guess now is the time to get them into the ground?
Any help on germination procedures, location, drainage, likes, dislikes. Any information at all :)

Thanks,
Michael

In Alabama, the growing conditions should be the same as at my house in middle GA.
It's been my experience that working up a seedbed, and then scattering the seed on top of the bed in the autumn results in a nice bed of plants in the spring.

Of minor concern is the songbird population which has been busily scratching up my seed beds in my current garden.

Of interest is the fact that seeds sown in summer have occasionally come up with the autumn rains, only to die in the winter cold...

My echinacea do best in well drained soil, in full sun... and have an amazing tolerance to drought.

The echinacea are eaten by deer, so a fence is recommended. They are also eaten by voles, so... If you have a problem with those pests....
Maybe spread some used kitty litter over the bed...

Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Nov 23, 2015 9:59 AM CST
stone said:

The echinacea are eaten by deer, so a fence is recommended. They are also eaten by voles, so... If you have a problem with those pests.... Maybe spread some used kitty litter over the bed...


Really? I set out every morning to learn something new every day. I never heard of that before! Used cat litter to dispel voles. Cool. I have cats and voles! What perchance is the logic behind that??

Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Nov 23, 2015 1:16 PM CST
It doesn't work perfectly... Ie; voles are still there.... Renewal of the litter is required...
The idea is the same as spraying coyote urine on the flowers to prevent deer predation.

The animals smell the predator, and go a little way away from the source of the smell.. until the scent is not fresh... And then they come back.

Name: Michael
Foley, Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Michaelgardens
Nov 23, 2015 7:01 PM CST
Thank you @DavidLMO, @hampartsum, @William and @Stone for chiming in and imparting your nuggets. I appreciate all of the advice and knowledge. Now to get busy sowing....
Veggies and fruits for the body, flowers shrubs and foliage for the soul...and all these for the insects of course:)
[Last edited by Michaelgardens - Nov 23, 2015 7:01 PM (+)]
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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Nov 23, 2015 8:15 PM CST
stone said: coyote urine

Rolling on the floor laughing
And this thread is about germinating purple coneflowers. Slight thread drift. Big Grin

But I think anyone reading all of the responses will have a good handle on how to do it.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Michael
Foley, Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Michaelgardens
Nov 23, 2015 8:27 PM CST
stone said:Visit my Garden
http://gardens-in-the-sand.blogspot.com/


I did, it is amazing! What a joy to be able to walk through so may amazing varieties, colors, scents, textures and of course creepy crawlers..... nice!
Veggies and fruits for the body, flowers shrubs and foliage for the soul...and all these for the insects of course:)

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