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!