If you are wondering if you should prune your coneflower (Echinacea), the answer is yes! It’s an important part of a healthy maintenance routine, as it rejuvenates the plant. If you do it right, pruning can provide a fresh start, lush regrowth and even more blooms. Below is more information on when and how to prune coneflowers. Follow the tips and get ready for more blooms.
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When to prune coneflower
When is the best time to prune coneflowers? The answer to this question depends on your garden goals and your approach to pruning. Below are some seasonal guidelines to give you a better idea of what time of year you should apply the shears. Remember, you can also do some pruning during the growing season and when plants are dormant.
Fall / Winter Pruning
If you want to have a tidy garden in the winter, you can prune back your coneflowers after they have gone dormant in late fall or early winter. If you cut back the dormant stems and seed heads in the fall, it will also reduce the likelihood of the plant naturalizing or spreading. If you have a small garden that you like to keep tidy, fall pruning is the way to go.
Pruning in the spring
On the other hand, some gardeners recommend waiting until spring to prune echinacea for several reasons. First of all, these flowers provide important food for your local bird population during the fall and winter months. If your garden is large enough to grow native plants like echinacea, you’ll be doing native wildlife a favor by leaving the seeds. And while some people see plant dispersal as a disadvantage, others see it as a benefit – hey, free plants! Finally, seed heads are visually interesting in the winter when most plants in your landscape are dormant.
Whether you prune your plants in the fall or spring is entirely up to you and what you want for your garden. And if you have a lot of coneflowers in your garden, you can prune some back in the fall and save others for spring.
Pruning coneflowers can also be done in the summer! However, pruning in the summer doesn’t look the same as pruning in the spring or fall. Pruning is often done to keep the plant tidy, prevent the spread of seeds, and to encourage more blooms.
How to prune coneflowers
Now we come to the even more important question, “How to prune coneflowers properly?” The good news is that echinacea are hardy. So it’s unlikely that a pruning mistake will lead to an unfortunate death of the plant. Still, it’s important to know how to prune properly so you can enjoy more blooms and healthy growth each year. Follow these steps when pruning your coneflower.
- Choose the time of year you prefer to prune: read above about why you should prune your plants in the fall or spring. Removing flower heads and cutting flowers in summer is also an option.
- Use sharp, clean pruning shears for cutting: Make sure you have sharp, clean scissors for pruning and cutting back your coneflowers.
- Cut the growth between 3 and 10 inches above the ground: How far you cut your coneflower depends on the variety you have and how established it is. For example, a large, established purple coneflower can be cut back to 10 inches and will be back in great shape. A smaller variety can be cut back to 3 inches. Newer plants are also easier to prune closer to the ground. When you defoliate your plants, cut off the spent flower half an inch above the new flowers on the same stem. Or cut the entire stem to 3 inches above the ground if it is no longer blooming.
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When to cut echinacea – Conclusion.
- Cut off spent flowers to keep the plant tidy, encourage new blooms, and reduce seed dispersal.
- When you cut the flowers for bouquets, you encourage the formation of new flowers.
- Cut back coneflowers in the fall to keep the garden tidy and reduce spread by seed OR cut back plants in the spring so they naturalize, feed native birds and maintain some visual interest in your winter garden.
- Cut plants back to 3 to 10 inches above the ground, depending on species and maturity.
- Use the cuttings in your compost, which you can use to feed your coneflowers in the spring.
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