How to Gather Coneflower Echinacea Seeds

Overview

Echinacea is a hardy, perennial plant also known by the common name of coneflower. The plants are native to the eastern and central United States. Echinacea coneflowers are sun-loving and prolific multipliers. These perennials die back in winter and may be propagated by division of the clumping mass of roots or by seed. Left to their own devices, they self-seed where they are planted. Should you wish to harvest the seed and start growth in different locations, gathering coneflower echinacea seeds from established plants can be done by hand.

Step 1

Select mature, healthy, prolific clumps of coneflower echinacea plants established in the garden. This will give you the best chance at harvesting genetically sound seeds.

Step 2

Allow the stems and flower head containing the spiked, cone-shaped central pod and petals to brown and die out. Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, this should occur in autumn -- usually in September or October.

Step 3

Snip the waning flower heads from the plant You may want to snip their attached stems where they emerge from the green leaf base of the plant. This will tidy up the plant, as well as harvest the seed pod's central cone. If preferred, you may simply leave the stem, and remove the head portion of the flower to harvest the seed pod/petal portion.

Step 4

Place the spiked seed pod into a paper bag or place on a screen over a container in a wind-free location to facilitate complete drying of the pods. Remove and discard any remaining long stems from the pods.

Step 5

Remove dried seed pods from the container or bag. While wearing gloves, work the pods back and forth between your fingers to agitate and coax seeds into the container or bag.

Step 6

Store harvested seed in a sealed plastic bag. The brands that have zipper closures are excellent for this task. Label the bag with the plant name, date and location of parent plant. Store the bag in a cool, dry location until planting time.

Tips and Warnings

  • Take care when handling dried coneflower seed pods as those spikes can be sharp.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruner or sturdy scissors
  • Container or paper bag
  • Plastic sandwich bag
  • Permanent marking pen

References

  • UMSP Horticultural Extension: Prairie Seed Harvesting-Darren Lochner
  • The American Horticultural Society's A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants; Christopher Brickell and H. Marc Cathey, Editors-in-Chief; 2008

Who Can Help

  • U.S. National Arboretum: USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: Harvesting Echinacea seed, Saving Coneflower seeds, How to gather seeds from garden flowers

About this Author

Sheri Lacker has more than 30 years' experience as a writer, photographer and multimedia artist. Her work has been used by Warner Brothers, Barbour/Langley and Casey Kasem Presents, among others. Her awards include the Theatre Excellence Scholarship and Guest-Artist-in-Res. Lacker studied journalism, Web design and historical research at the University of Memphis.