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About EchinaceaAccording to The Herb Companion,
"E. purpurea, a favorite garden perennial with its brilliant late-summer display of large purple daisies on 3- to 4-foot stalks, was introduced into English gardens as early as 1699 and has been under cultivation ever since. Unlike the other echinaceas, this species has a fibrous root instead of a taproot. The leaves are oval, tapering to a sharp point, with irregular teeth. It is the most widespread species of echinacea in North America, although not the most abundant, occurring in moist soils in woods, at edges of thickets and prairies, and near springs, often as a solitary plant or in small populations."
Also from Herb Comanion, "No single chemical has been found responsible for echinacea’s ability to stimulate the immune system; in fact, whole-plant extracts seem to be more effective than those containing an isolated compound. Certain polysaccharides, flavonoids, essential oils, caffeic acid derivatives, isobutylamides, and cichoric acid all may play a role in producing echinacea’s effects."
From Health Guidance, "It is also commonly used as a laxative. It is also commonly thought of as a treatment for the common cold, though it is believed that this came about through a misunderstanding – some Native Americans used it to treat symptoms of the common cold rather than to treat the colds themselves.
One potential active substance is the compound 'phenols' which are also common in many other plants. Phenols have many anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting qualities and it is phenols that are believed to make olive oil such a beneficial thing to consume, however they may also be related to endocrine-disruptive chemicals; in other words they may actually have some negative effects. Meanwhile Echinacea also contains polysaccharides which can improve mood via the production of feel good hormones as well as helping to improve cardiovascular health and crucially immunity."
As with any herb, there may be potential side effects or drug interaction. With that in mind, it is important to do your own research to find out what id best for you. The is not intended to be medical advise or a "cure."
Now that we have that pesky disclaimer out of the way, on to Growing your own!
The planting instructions on each seed pack reads:
Seeds can be sown in cool or warm conditions, covered very lightly (depth of ½ inch) and kept reasonably moist until seedlings emerge. Echinacea, also known as coneflowers, enjoy a sunny location with fertile soil with good drainage. If your soil isn't particularly fertile, work in a little compost.
How about a bit more info! From Garden Guides,
"Plant echinacea seeds in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked, and when you still expect another frost or two. Sow the seeds 1/4" deep and 2" apart. When the seedlings are an inch tall, thin to 18" apart. Rabbits and hedgehogs think new echinacea shoots are a tasty treat, so protect your seedlings if these animals are known to visit your garden.
Alternatively, you can plant your seeds about 2 months before your first fall frost. This gives the plants enough time to become established, and although they won't come to bloom the first year when you plant them this late, they will give you a much better bloom period next year.
Regular weeding is a must because echinacea doesn't compete well with weeds, but other that that, plants require very little care. Expect blooms from June to October in most areas. Echinacea will be one of the last plants in your garden to go dormant."