Brown, Wilted Purple Coneflower Blooms - Knowledgebase Question

Barnsdall, OK
Question by kimmieforu
November 8, 1999
I have purple coneflower plants that are 5 years old. For the first 3 years, they were beautiful blooms. For the last 2 years, the blooms have been brown and the plant itself has been wilted. This seemed to happen after an attack of caterpillars and since then I have noticed a few grasshoppers. Would dividing them do any good? Any help you can give me is greatly appreciated since I haven' t been able to find much info. on these flowers.

Answer from NGA
November 8, 1999


These plants do seem to do better with division about every three years, and they also appreciate a bit of compost or well aged manure as a top dressing when they have been in pace for a while. Although they are listed as drought tolerant and can survive with very little water, they also do better with ample water during the summer just as most plants do. These steps will help to keep them vigorous, as will deadheading or removing the spent blooms as they occur. Vigorous plants seem better able to withstand insect attacks and in general seem healthier overall. In my garden I have allowed them to self sow and then remove the oldest plants when they seem past their prime. Based on your description I am not sure if this is the case, but this plant is also occasionally affected by what is basically the same thing as "aster yellows". Unfortunately there is no cure for it except to destroy the plants. They are also occasionally attacked by various insects, but this is fairly unusual. With any luck, dividing them next spring will solve the problem.

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