Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Plant of the Week: Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

This outstanding native perennial has been in the nursery trade for decades and today you can get them in almost any color under the sun.  However, from the native plant garden aspect, the true purple coneflower is the species you want and you do not want any of the hybrids or cultivars if you wish to attract butterflies.  Why?  The primary reason is that those other plants are not breed or cloned for high nectar production to attract the native pollinator, or butterfly.  This is a great butterfly plant and you will likely see red admirals, giant, spicebush, gulf, and tiger swallowtails, great spangled, meadow, and variegated fritillaries, pearl crescent, viceroys, American coppers, and numerous skippers.  This species grows from 2 to 4' tall with a spread of about 1.5'. It begins flowering in June and will continue blooming much of the summer and in late summer, the American goldfinches come in and teach their youngsters how to get the seeds out of the center of the flower. This plant does well in average to dry and well-drained soils with full to part sun.  The plants will need to be divided about every 4 years. It should re-bloom without deadheading, but deadheading will send this plant into overdrive with respect to flower production.  This species has also been reported to have a wide variety of medicinal properties including a cure for the common cold, improved immune system function, as a mouthwash for mouth ulcers and gingivitis, and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties.  As with all herbs, you should consult your primary care physician prior to using it for any health purpose.  This is a great plant and good companion plants include black-eyed Susans, bee-balm, blazing-stars, and early goldenrod.  This is one of the easiest and showiest of all native sun-loving perennials to grow.  It has few disease or pest problems and the name Echinacea is from the Greek word echinos which means hedgehog (the spiny center cone).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for another great post. I cannot abide the hybrid Echinaceas in all the neon colors today, and I'm glad to know I have another reason not to have them in my garden (low nectar production) besides the fact that they're just so ugly. The companion plants you mentioned have just given me an idea about what to plant around my pond. Problem solved.