How to Prune Coneflowers

Опубликовал Admin
6-05-2021, 01:30
There are many varieties of coneflower plants with different flower colors, but the purple coneflower (echinacea purpurea) is probably the most common type found in home gardens. All coneflower varieties are low-maintenance and don’t necessarily require any pruning. However, there are a few simple pruning techniques you can use to extend the plant’s blooming season, enhance its beauty, and manage its slow but steady spread.

Deadheading Spent Flowers

  1. Cut fading flowers and their stems down to the next lateral flower or bud. Once a flower on this plant loses its colorful lustre and the petals begin to dry and wilt, the flower will quickly shrivel up and die. At this point, you can use pruning shears to cut off the spent flower and its stem (called “deadheading”).
    • Trace down the spent flower’s stem until you reach the next lateral stem with a blooming flower or bud on it. Cut the dead flower’s stem just above this joint.
    • The best time of year for deadheading will vary based on the coneflower blooming season where you live. That said, you should plan to start deadheading about 2 weeks after the first blooms appear, and continue throughout the blooming season.
  2. Deadhead to encourage more blooms or to limit self-seeding. Once a flower fades, the coneflower plant expends energy producing seeds that will eventually fall from the spent flower and sprout new coneflowers in the same area. Deadheading reduces the energy spent on seed production, which may result in more blooms that are longer-lasting and more vibrant.
    • Deadheading also greatly reduces the number of seeds that fall to the ground, which can help you keep your coneflowers from claiming more garden territory.
    • Many gardeners also believe that deadheading simply makes the plant look prettier as well.
  3. Don’t deadhead if you want to encourage more coneflowers or invite birds. If you want the coneflower section of your garden to spread naturally, skip deadheading and let the seeds fall where they may. Each year, the area covered by coneflowers will grow a bit larger.
    • In fact, after 3-4 years, you may be ready to divide up your intertwined coneflower plants and replant some of them elsewhere.
    • Finches and many other types of birds love coneflower seeds, so don’t deadhead if you want lots of feathered friends to visit your garden!

Pruning the Plant to the Ground Annually

  1. Use pruning shears or hedge clippers to cut the plant to ground level. You don’t have to get fancy here—simply place your shears or clippers as close to the ground as you can and cut down as many stems as you desire (or all of them). Pruning shears will work in any instance, but hedge clippers might make the job quicker if you have a lot of coneflowers to prune down.
  2. Cut coneflowers down to the ground purely as an aesthetic choice. Each fall, your coneflower plants will die off down to the ground, leaving behind brown and dry stems and wilted leaves and flowers. Then, in the spring, new stems will emerge and mark the annual renewal of your coneflowers. This natural process will occur whether you cut away the dead plant material or not.
    • Simply put, if you don’t like how the plant looks after its flowers have died off and its green color has faded, feel free to chop it down to the ground. If you prefer a natural look to your garden, leave it be.
  3. Prune it to the ground either in late fall or early spring. The coneflower plant doesn’t care whether you prune it to the ground or not, and it also doesn’t mind whether you prune it down right after a growing season or right before the next one. The choice is yours based on your preferences.
    • You may decide that pruning in the fall makes your garden look better, and it might also reduce the number of seeds that make it to the ground (and thus limit coneflower expansion).
    • Or, if you’d like to provide your local birds with some yummy seeds before winter comes, you can wait until the next spring (before any signs of life return to the plant) to chop it down.

Pruning to Extend Blooming Season

  1. Wait to prune until flower buds are just about to appear. Coneflowers can bloom at widely different times based on your local climate and conditions, so experience is your best guide in knowing when your coneflowers are ready to enter blooming season. However, look for a surge in growth (beyond the steady growth since the start of the growing season) while you still see few if any flower buds.
    • If you do this pruning technique too early, it will make little or no impact on extending the blooming season of your coneflowers. If you do it too late—once numerous buds have appeared—you’ll simply be chopping off flowers shortly before they open up.
  2. Cut down half of the main stems by one-third. For instance, if you have a 2 ft (61 cm) circle of coneflowers growing against a fence, divide the circle in half, parallel to the fence. If all the stems are roughly 2 ft (61 cm) high, cut those in the front half of the circle down to about 16 inches (41 cm) high with pruning shears.
    • You can cut all the main stems evenly at the chosen height (e.g., 16 inches), but it’s best to cut each main stem just above the lateral stem (which will produce a flower bud) closest to your chosen height.
    • If you want to be a bit more aggressive in your attempt to extend your blooming season, you can divide the coneflower stems into three sections, then prune down one section by one-third and another by one-half.
  3. Deadhead the un-pruned stems aggressively once they start blooming. The stems you didn’t prune down by a third will probably start blooming within a week or two. Once the flowers do start blooming in this section, check regularly (even daily) for spent flowers and deadhead them—that is, cut the flower and stem off just above the junction with the next lateral stem.
    • In this case, deadheading helps direct energy toward flower production in the stems you pruned down. This is because the plant doesn’t need to expend energy producing seeds for the spent flowers, since you’ve already cut them away.
  4. Watch for the pruned half to start blooming 2-3 weeks after the un-pruned half. Pruning has essentially stunted the progress of half of your coneflower plant’s stems, causing them to fall a few weeks behind in their annual flowering process. This means that as the back (un-pruned) half of your plant stops flowering for the season, the front (pruned) half will keep producing beautiful flowers for a few weeks past its typical season.
    • For example, coneflowers will bloom for about 1 month in many locales. Therefore, this pruning process can potentially extend the blooming season from 1 month to nearly 2 months.
    • Take proper care of the plant by watering it and handling pests.


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