Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, is a beautiful flowering plant that comes with medicinal benefits. These perennials feature brilliant purple flowers that attract both humming birds and bees and are a staple in butterfly gardens due to its nutritious nectar. And although the flower is common, Echinacea is often overlooked as a flower garden staple. However, there are several garden themes that incorporate Echinacea as the main attraction.
Butterflies love Echinacea. According to Clemson University Extension, purple coneflowers provide butterflies with nectar and birds enjoy the flowers seeds. Plant a wildlife garden by incorporating Echinacea as well as other butterfly, bird and bee attracting plants such as bee balm, which is a favorite for humming birds, and cardinal flower. These three plants work well when planted together in large mounds. They are all medium to tall perennials that will add color and texture to any landscape as well as attract wildlife.
Since Echinacea is a well known immunity booster, many grow this plant to use the leaves in teas or other culinary practices. According to the Non-timber Forest Products Program at Virginia Tech University, plains Indians used Echinacea more than any other plant group. This herb possesses antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and therefore is a great asset to a medicinal garden. VTU states that there are other plants that enhance the effectiveness of Echinacea; these include ginseng, goldenseal and astragalus. Goldenseal, like Echinacea, is a tall flowering plant. However, ginseng and astragalus both grow closer to the ground. An attractive way to incorporate all four of these plants would be to plant Echinacea and goldenseal in intervals in the back of the garden space. Then use the other plants as border plants.
For the die-hard Echinacea lover this perennial herb is attractive when planted in one large massive mound. The blooms can grow as tall as 3 feet and are associated with large purple, white, yellow, pink, red, peach or orange flowers that have large protruding centers that make up the seed head. These flowers make great cut flowers, another reason to plant them in mass mounds. To plant a truly spectacular mound dig a circular garden and add extra soil to form a mound in the center. The plants in the center of the mound will stand out from the other flowers and make the entire garden look fuller.