In my opinion, you can’t have too many CONEFLOWERS growing in your yard.
Not only are the blooming flowers beautiful, but this native plant is excellent for wildlife. You can expect to attract a wide variety of butterflies, bees, and other insects to your yard with coneflowers!
The LEAST expensive way to get lots of Echinacea (another common name for coneflowers) in your yard is to grow them from seeds. Unfortunately, buying full-grown plants from a garden center can get VERY expensive.
But once you obtain coneflower seeds, a common question tends to arise:
WHEN should you plant coneflower seeds?
Well, believe it or not, you actually have THREE choices, depending on your personal preference!
Option #1: Plant the seeds outdoors in late fall.
At first, this advice was surprising because I’m so used to starting my vegetable seeds, like tomatoes, indoors during spring.
But Echinacea species, like the Purple Coneflower, are native to North America. These plants have evolved alongside cooler temperatures. In fact, one reason you should plant the seeds in the fall is BECAUSE of the cold weather!
- Buy Purple Coneflower seeds HERE! (Link goes to Amazon)
To germinate in spring, coneflower seeds need the freezing and thawing temperatures that winter provides.
So, find an ideal spot in your yard for coneflower plants and get the seeds in the ground BEFORE the ground freezes! Coneflowers thrive in areas that have full or partial sun with well-drained soil. Luckily, these plants don’t need perfect soil. A little compost will help them grow but don’t worry too much about them!
Next, the seeds should be inserted slightly into the ground (I put them in about the length of my fingernail). You can also rake the seeds into loose soil to cover a large area to speed up the process. Now you just need to wait until spring to see your plants germinate and start growing.
And remember that this native plant is a perennial and will come back every year. 🙂
Option #2: Plant the seeds outdoors in early spring.
If you are too late to plant your coneflower seeds before the ground freezes, you can also do it in early spring.
But first, you should have the seeds go through something called artificial cold stratification. This process is where you simulate the effects of winter by placing the seeds between moist paper towels, sealing them in a plastic bag, and then placing them in the fridge for 8-12 weeks.
Coneflower seeds can grow without going through cold stratification, but they definitely germinate best when it’s done!
Option #3: Start the seeds indoors 4-8 weeks BEFORE the final spring frost.
If you want to ensure you get a certain number of coneflower plants to grow, planting them indoors in a controlled environment is your best option.
I would look up your average last spring frost and then plant your seeds 4-8 weeks before that date. You don’t want to transplant the seedlings outdoors until the weather has warmed up for good!
But similar to Option #2, the seeds should go through artificial cold stratification to mimic the effects of winter. This process will ensure the most amount of seeds will germinate.
If you don’t treat your coneflower seeds with cold, then you can try the “throw lots of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach. Basically, buy and plant A LOT of coneflower seeds and see how many you can get to germinate!
One word of advice with starting coneflowers indoors:
These native plants are prone to shock when transplanted. To help with this process, I would use peat pots to plant the seeds inside. These pots decompose in the soil, so you don’t have to take them out and potentially damage the roots.
Have you had luck planting coneflower seeds?
If so, please share your best tips below!