For medicinal purposes, you'll want to harvest some roots and some flower tops. For best quality, wait until your plants are 3 years old. Roots are harvested in the fall when the tops have gone to seed and the plants have experienced a couple of hard frosts. Tops are harvested just as the flowers start to open. Whether harvesting tops or roots, the dried herb will be good for one year. Be sure to date the jars containing the herb so you won't use them past their potency date.
- Using a sharp knife, cut off a portion of the root, leaving plenty for the plant to grow on.
- Cut any pieces larger than 1 inch into smaller pieces to avoid mold growth during the drying process.
- Wash thoroughly and pat dry.
- Hang the root pieces or lay them out on screens in a well ventilated area away from direct sunlight. If the pieces are large it may take several weeks for them to dry.
- When completely dry, store in a tightly covered glass jar in cool, dark place.
Harvesting Flower Tops
- Using a sharp knife, cut the plant at the point where the first healthy leaves are growing.
- Lay the tops on a screen or hang them upside down in bundles out of direct sunlight. Make sure they aren't crowded so that air can't circulate around them.
- When completely dry, the leaves will crumble when touched. Store them in glass jars with tight fitting lids in a cool, dry place.
Growing and Using Echinacea