Coneflowers Starting to Hit Peak Bloom

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I love coneflowers and never seem to tire of all of the different cultivars on the market.  In central Ohio Echinacea cultivars are beginning to hit their peak bloom period and will continue to show off until late summer.  Some of the pests to watch for this season include Japanese beetles (of course) as well as one relatively new pest that has been wreaking havoc on coneflowers, the SUNFLOWER HEAD-CLIPPING WEEVIL.  This pest usually shows up in July, damaging the flower stems, just below the flower, causing the flower head to flop.  

E. Marmalade
Echinacea 'Marmalade'

TO DEADHEAD OR NOT TO DEADHEAD?  Is that a good question?  A few years ago I wrote a gardening column about my coneflowers and mentioned that I removed the dead flower blooms.  I have never gotten so much email response from a column as I did this one!  People were not happy with the fact that I took away the seeds from goldfinches!  They were very upset with me!  I had to write a column the next week explaining why I deadhead my coneflowers.  

E. Cheyene Spirit
Echinacea 'Cheyene Spirit'

Coneflowers in general are prolific seeders (with maybe the exception of some cultivars) and can really take over a garden.  Depending on your garden philosophy or what you want to achieve in your perennial garden, you may not want a bed of coneflowers!  I have several unique cultivars so I don't want a lot of seedlings overtaking these plants.  Therefore, in my formal perennial garden, I deadhead; in my small quarter-acre prairie, I let the coneflowers go to seed.  And oh, by the way, I take all of my deadheaded seed pods to the prairie and spread them and I let sunflowers grow all over the garden for the goldfinches!  So there!

Whichever you decide, try some of the incredibly cool cultivars on the market today!  Enjoy!