Both a beautiful plant and a medicinal powerhouse for the garden. Echinacea is a must-have for any garden. It brings gifts of immune support, skin healing, beauty, and is great at attracting pollinators. (Echinacea purpurea)
Why We Love It
Here are some of the reasons why we love Echinacea...
1) IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT - Echinacea is a wonderful herb to reach for to boost the immune system at the first signs of cold, cough and / or flu symptoms. Echinacea has an affinity for the respiratory tract, is anti-inflammatory, and can aid in healing respiratory concerns. It's best taken short-term for immune boosting.
2) TOPICAL SOOTHING AND PAIN RELIEF - Making an infused oil of the aerial parts of Echinacea can be used as a skin soother. A balm or salve can be made for skin concerns, sunburn, eczema, and wounds. Its anti-bacterial qualities aid in the prevention of infection. Echinacea can also be used fresh topically as a poultice for skin soothing.
3) CUT FLOWER AND POLLINATOR PLANT - The large purple flowers of echinacea are always buzzing with bees and butterflies. It's a lovely addition to a cottage flower garden with blooms lasting throughout summer into autumn.
How to Grow It
Here's how to grow Echinacea:
|MOISTURE||REGULAR, WELL DRAINING SOIL|
|GROWING ZONES||USDA 3-9 (Not sure? Find your growing zone here)|
|SIZE||3-5 FEET TALL & 1-3 FEET WIDE|
|GROWING FROM SEED||
Echinacea is slow to germinate so some steps can help it along. Seeds do best with cold stratification for 2-4 weeks. When ready plant ¼’’ deep in good quality, well draining mix. Best 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Cover and keep dark until germination in 21-30 days. Ideal temperature 65-70 for germination. Checking regularly for moisture levels making sure not to moist and forming mold. Once they begin to sprout remove cover. Grow seedling until 3-4’’ tall in protected area with mild temperatures. Harden off by exposing plants to the elements slowly over the course of a few days. Transplanting 1 ft spacing in composted and well draining soil.
PRO TIP: Echinacea evolved as a meadow plant and will happily expand and spread, so put it on the edge of your garden to allow it to multiply. Harvest flower heads to encourage new blooms throughout the season. All parts are medicinal, but roots should be harvested in the later years.
How to Harvest & Use It
All parts of echinacea purpurea are medicinal. To establish, plant in rich soil, water regularly and encourage plants to root. In second year they will begin to send up flower heads. Regularly harvest open flower heads to dry for tea or tincture. Flowers will last on the plant for up to three weeks. Deadhead old flowers to encourage continual growth. In spring, cut back foliage to encourage new growth.
The roots of echinacea are also great medicine. Roots are best harvested in Fall when cutting back the tops of the plant. Gently dig around the plants and pull them up removing some of the roots. Replant any new growth that may be popping out. Wash roots in water and tincture. Make a separate aerial and root tincture throughout the year and then combine them to make more potent medicine.