Updated: Jan 2
Echinacea angustifolia Echinacea purpurea
A coneflower that pops and brightens every garden¸ Echinacea is a beautiful plant native to the US. It’s a flower that pollinators love to visit and comes in a few different colors, purple, pink, white, orange and yellow.
This flower is a summer bloomer and a perennial, you’ll be able to enjoy this planted beauty year after year and your pollinators will thank you too. Echinacea is a laid-back plant; it prefers well-draining soil and is happiest with at least four hours of sun a day and isn’t picky about when it gets that sun.
It doesn’t spread, so you don’t need to stress about it over taking your garden space and it is very drought tolerant. This plant grows to about four feet in height and should be placed towards the back of landscaped gardens, when planting Echinacea make sure it is well watered until it is properly established. Trim away the dead flower in order to encourage new growth.
Echinacea is a self-seeding plant, you can let the blooms go to seed allowing the seeds to scatter at the end of the growing season in late fall, or you can collect the seeds using mesh bags tied around the flower head.
Many birds and squirrels enjoy these seeds as a late winter snack and will also benefit from the flowers being aloud to go to seed. Other than bringing a pop of color and inviting bees and colorful butterflies to your garden space, this flower offers up some amazing benefits for us humans as well.
Echinacea is a long time favorite for those who use herbs and plants for natural remedies. It is a great immune booster and is said to be able to shorten illnesses and lesson the severity of colds.
After two years of establishing itself in your garden the Echinacea plant can be harvested and used to make teas, tinctures, extracts, capsules, infused with honey, used in salves, oils and decoctions.
The blossom, leaves and roots can all be utilized. The root contains the most medicinal properties and should be harvested after the first frost, when the plant has taken all its energy that is used for growing leaves and blossoms and put it into the roots.
When harvesting the blossom, you’ll want to wait until it has fully formed and opened, and to do it in the morning before the heat from the sun has hit the plant but about when the dew has evaporated. Use flowers and leaves that are in their prime, once they’ve begun to wilt and show age spots and signs of decay, you’ll want to avoid them.
When choosing an Echinacea plant for medicinal purposes you’ll want to stick with Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. There are many different varieties and while I have heard some mentions of others also having their own unique medicinal qualities, I haven’t had a chance to dig deeper into those. Do stay away from any hybridized varieties, they typically have an “x” in their name to indicate that they are a hybrid.
A word of caution when using this herb, if you are affected by autoimmune diseases or on any medications, use extreme caution when utilizing this plant into your diet.
I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease and taking this supplement has caused my Hashimoto’s to flair up horribly, because of that I no longer use it for myself due to how my body reacts with it. We are all uniquely different and while someone may experience a positive out-come, others may not. Some reported side effects are, nausea, vomiting, bad taste, stomach pain, diarrhea, sore throat, dry mouth, and headache.
Before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and I began to have my health problems, I would take Echinacea by tea or in capsule form to help when suffering with colds or sinus infections and would have success in cutting the duration of my illnesses.
Nicks Garden Center and Farm Market https://nicksgardencenter.com/gardening-blog/echinacea_a_pollinator_favorite/