days to maturity: 150 days
plant spacing: 2 plants per square foot
sunlight requirements: 8-14 hours
look out for: spider mites
harvest notes: harvest flowers when blooming and roots at end of spring
Growing echinacea in South Florida is relatively new to us but we are excited that after some successes at the farm these last few seasons we are offering plants for sale. Echinacea is slow growing and requires a simulated frost for the seeds to germinate, which we do in our freezer before planting them. Once your echinacea plant gets going it will get about 36” wide and 4 feet tall and will produce many coneflowers. Echinacea likes full sun, not too much water, and low nutrients. Echinacea is used medicinally to prevent bacterial and viral infections, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, heal psoriasis and eczema, and heal respiratory conditions like bronchitis. To consume echinacea, you can use the petal, leaves, roots, or all of the above. The flowers or leaves should be harvested right after the flowers begin to bloom. Cut each stem right where the first set of leaves is growing. Rinse the flowers and then hang them to dry or lay them flat on a screen. To consume echinacea, either make an infusion from the leaves and petals or a decoction out of the dried roots. For petals and leaves, use one to two teaspoons of the dry material per one cup of water. To harvest the roots wait until the plant is as mature as its going to get (they wont survive the summer, so late spring or early summer is the best time to harvest roots) and then pull the plant up. Wash the roots thoroughly and cut them into the smallest pieces you can manage before using in an alcohol based tincture. Growing echinacea is easy but prepare yourself to wait pretty much until the middle of spring to see any flowers, since they don’t flower until then due to day length and maturity of plant. Plant your seedlings in fall and be patient, as the flowers are gorgeous, prolific and totally worth it.