Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Pale Purple Coneflower

Two years ago, I planted seeds for the Pale Purple Coneflower, or Echinacea pallida.  Like many perennials that are planted from seed, it's been a long wait, but I'm excited to say they are finally in bloom!

Pale Purple Coneflower
Native to the central United States, the Pale Purple Coneflower is a close relative of the well-known Purple Coneflower.  When I first saw pictures of these prairie plants, sometimes called Narrow Petal Coneflowers, I thought that their thin, drooping petals were rather odd-looking.  However, over time their airy shape really grew on me, and I decided to grow some of these wildflowers in my own garden.


With their petals gracefully dancing about in the breeze, they are actually very charming flowers. 


Echinacea pallida flowers in early summer before the regular Purple Coneflowers do, blooming when there isn't a lot of other things going on in my garden.  It is also a great nectar source for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

bee on Pale Purple Coneflower
Pale Purple Coneflowers also attract birds who love their seeds.  Goldfinches love them so much, in fact, that they started feasting while my flowers were still in bloom.

Goldfinches on Echinacea pallida
The seeds apparently make good bird baby food, too.

Goldfinch daddy feeding his baby
Pale Purple Coneflowers prefer well-drained soil in full to partial sun.  It has a deep taproot and is very drought tolerant once established (though also hard to move).  It grows about 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide, and looks very nice growing around other plants, which also serve to give it some support.  The coneflowers do sometimes flop, especially after being used as dining tables for flocks of little birds...


Like other Echinaceas, the Pale Purple Coneflower was used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes, and its roots are still used today in herbal medicine and tonics. The states of Tennessee and Wisconsin list the Pale Purple Coneflower as threatened, due to habitat loss and over-collection of its roots for the medicinal market.


I don't usually see Echinacea pallida for sale at local nurseries, but seeds and seedlings are available at some native nurseries and online.  There is also a white/pale pink version Echinacea pallida 'Hula Dancer' available, which looks like it would be quite pretty in the garden.


The Pale Purple Coneflower is so lovely and worth the wait - though I have to admit that, being an impatient gardener, I bought some seedlings online this year so that I could have more of these flowers in the garden without waiting yet another two years.


I look forward to many more blooms! 
Happy Gardening!


18 comments:

  1. I have a lot of coneflower in my garden and have the purple variety in the side garden. We get numerous goldfinches here because I feed thistle seed, but never saw a hummingbird on any of my coneflower blooms. I will have to keep an eye out for that since we get a family of hummingbirds every year. Good to know they visit coneflower.

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    1. I didn't know they visited the coneflower either until reading it online. We have one hummingbird that visits here, but lately I usually catch him in my patch of penstemon.

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  2. Hello Indie!
    Awesome. I had no idea that birds love to Echinacea.
    I knew that butterflies love the flowers.
    Greetings.
    Lucja

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    1. Surprisingly I have not seen any butterflies on my coneflowers yet, or many butterflies at all in my garden this year yet. The birds definitely enjoy them though!

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  3. Congrats, they look great, and I love seeing those little metallic looking bees in the garden!
    I saw a few pictures of 'Hula dancer' recently and it also looks great. These flowers have a cool airiness to them that I really like.

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    1. I like the color of 'Hula Dancer' a lot, too. It seems very versatile in the garden. This coneflower seems easy to grow in and among other plants since they don't take up a lot of space.

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  4. Hi Indie, I've never seen the pale sort of coneflower before, although we have lots of the traditional purple ones and some white ones too around here. Yours look a lot more natural than some of the cultivars sold now that are double forms and strange colors. Thanks for letting me know about this kind. -Beth

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    1. I think those doubles were mutant forms of Purple Coneflower, so it's hard for those to look natural! I think some of the hybrids are fun looking, but the Pale Purple Coneflower is definitely more natural, being a native species.

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  5. These are charming; I can see why you want to have them in your garden. Seeing the daddy finch feeding seeds to his baby wins me over!

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    1. I do wonder if he chewed up the seeds a little first into baby food. It was quite cute!

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  6. I've never seen this coneflower before, what a beauty!

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  7. Beautiful flower!

    My Echinacea purpurea started blooming here in Tennessee in mid-May. I wonder whether E. pallida would start even earlier than that??

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    1. That is early! I would think it would, since it is generally known to start flowering earlier. Maybe a few days before, anyway. You guys have such a nice long gardening season!

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  8. I really like the look of this one. It's so dainty! I love the photos of the goldfinches.

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    1. It is a nice, delicate one that is easy to fit in with other perennials.

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  9. Oh, I am so jealous! I have tried and tried to get them to grow here with no luck. But the Echinacea purpurea is another story--I guess I should be satisfied that it likes my garden. What a great shot of the goldfinch feeding her baby!

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    1. That is too bad they haven't grown well for you. They definitely take longer to take off, though, and I had to keep moving my seedlings to keep them from being run over by other plants.

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