Updated: Jul 29
I've always wanted to be a seed saver but I typically get to the point of 'seeing' the seeds and then lose interest! Last year I actually followed through and collected little, tiny pointed things that I had 'hoped' were the seeds. I mean to tell you that it wasn't easy trying to figure out if what I was saving was the chaff or the seed. So I decided to just save anything that fell from the flower's head.
The seeds I decided to save? The Echinacea of course, also known as Coneflower. My fingers were in bandages for days because of those spear like claws that protect the seed. But I soon forgave them when I saw my first blooms.
The colors were spectacular, blooms lasting for weeks and with deadheading and proper fertilizer treatments, they bloomed all summer long.
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Nature: Butterflies and Bumble Bees love the nectar of the Echinacea! I found them bumping into one another all summer long. It's so much fun watching nature!
Medicinal attributes: According to the National Library of Medicine, "...the Echinacea purpurea is the most widely cultivated medicinal plant in this species, which has been mainly used in chemo-preventive and chemotherapy for infectious diseases in both upper and lower respiratory systems." That's just the tip of the iceberg as to what this plant can do for health. Learning how to build up our immunity to fight off disease with the very plants that sit outside our windows is how God intended it to be from day one.
Seed Collecting TIP: I'm a dead header, yes, it's true! I can't pass by a flower that needs dead and dying blooms pinched so this tip was a real test for me! I learned that in order to collect seeds, don't deadhead (at least) the last batch of flowers. You let them fully mature and turn brown on the branch for their seeds to develop properly. The good news is that you will notice the seeds pretty much fall out of that 'crown of thorns' that surrounds the seeds, saving your precious fingers.
For those of you not interested in deadheading, or cleaning up leaves that have discolored, Echinacea can be a very low maintenance plant if you want it to be. Plant, water and walk away.
Good Luck and Good Gardening!