image by Claudia Meyer/sxc.hu
The upright prairie coneflower has the large, cone-shaped center that all coneflower varieties feature. The drooping petals around the center are yellow and sometimes have an orange-red area where the petals join the cone. Prairie coneflowers make a bright addition to wildflower gardens and the seeds in the cone attract birds. Like all perennial flowers, trim coneflowers in autumn to prevent self seeding and to improve the appearance of the fall garden before winter.
Cut the stems down by 3 to 6 inches after buds form but before the flowers bloom if you prefer shorter plants. Or, trim back only those that have become too tall and leggy so they are the same height as the neighboring coneflowers.
Deadhead the blooms as soon as they fade and before seed heads form. Grasp the stem beneath the spent bloom but right above the nearest leafs or bud and pinch off the old flower.
Cut off any seed heads that may have formed right above the nearest bud or leaf.
Prune away dead and damaged leaves with sharp gardening scissors. Cut off the dead foliage where it joins the stem but avoid cutting into the stem itself.
Cut the stem off at the ground after the first freeze or when the foliage has died off naturally, whichever occurs first. Avoid cutting back before this as the leaves are needed to store energy for the plant.