Coneflowers - remove heads or leave to propogate?

munzzzzzzzJune 28, 2010


I have a question about the best way to propogate coneflowers. I've planted several coneflower plants in the last two years (probably 15-20). I have a lot more space I could plant them in, so I'd love to be able to get more plants out of what I currently have. I've read a lot of postings saying that if you leave the dead flowers, they will tend to reseed themselves, or that you can pick the dead flowers off and remove the seeds yourself late in the year and then plant them wherever you want. I've also read that you should remove any dead flowers to encourage new blooms. So my question is, what is everyone's opinion if I want to be able to make my plants "multiply", whether by self-seeding, harvesting seeds, or by splitting the plants? Obviously leaving the dead flowers on and cutting them off are two very different approaches, and I'm curious as to what everyone else does.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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cyn427 (zone 7)

I leave mine for the most part. Goldfinches love the seed and perch on the plants. Fun! Even with the birds eating from the seed heads, mine have spread nicely.

I think it is a good question, though, and I was actually wondering today if I should deadhead this year. Can't wait to hear what other folks have to say!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 6:55PM
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abq_bob(USDA 5a/SS 2A)

I usually leave the flower heads on for winter interest and the birds. But if you're wanting to save the seeds for propagation I'd probably try to get to the heads before the birds do - you still don't want to cut them too early, or else the seed won't be ready.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 7:53PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I deadhead regularly to promote more flowering, but also to prevent excessive seeding. Even with deadheading, I have far too many seedlings! I'm not keen on the 'winter interest' of the spent flowerheads so they definitely get removed for the winter - if I didn't remove them I think eventually there'd be nothing in the bed other than coneflowers! They seed themselves VERY easily in my garden. The white ones don't seem to seed as vigorously as the pink (purple) ones.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 8:31PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

For several years I left mine for winter interest and for the birds, but I guess my birds don't eat enough, because I've got coneflowers coming out of my ears! I'm actually starting to pull them as weeds because I just can't give away any more.

This year, they're getting deadheaded.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 9:29PM
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I normally remove the smaller buds and leave the largest ones up for the goldfinches. I had to remove quite a few diseased coneflower plants this year, so I just might leave the bulk of the seedheads up and let the birds do their and flick the seed around.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 9:59PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

If you have a named variety, you'll lose it to the seedlings eventually, which will not be true to type. And there will be a LOT of seedlings. Division works, though it's slower.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 6:10AM
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terrene(5b MA)

My Echinacea reseeds like crazy too. This year I have weeded out TONS of them. Generally, I am not crazy about the seedlings of mixed parentage (especially when crossed with the Big Sky plants) and have decided to cull out the plants I don't like. They have become too much of a mish-mash.

I leave some of the seed heads up for the birds, and I also cut some and store them in the garage. Periodically through the winter I will tape a bunch of seed heads to the bird feeder pole, which the Goldfinches love to eat.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 8:39AM
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a2zmom(6a - nj)

Why not do both? Deadhead now for more flowers, but starting in the late fall, leave the seedheads for the birds and to get more flowers. Best of both worlds!

Last year I was sick almost the entire summer and I didn't deadhead. Man, I have a LOT of echinacea now. (although not as much as my Helianthus Summer sun. Now that's a reseeder.)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:01AM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

I leave them for the birds, and they do self seed.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 4:34PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

When the seeds are completely dried, gather them up and put in envelope to use as a trade. If you have any Mangus seeds, I'd love to have some, if even a Tablespoon full. I'll pay for the postage.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 6:07PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Something seems to be picking the petals off some of my zinnas and coneflowers..I haven't seen any goldfinches but I haven't been standing watch for the culprit either.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 7:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I found I really got great rebloom when I deadheaded. I learned that by accident when the mailman kept popping echinacea buds off the plants on his way to the front door. [g] That plant had more blooms on it that year than any other. I did see some reseeding this year but not a huge amount. I am out of room so I'll have to deadhead. I probably will try to leave some for the birds in the fall though.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 6:52AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Pippi, typical Goldfinch behavior, the theory is they are picking off the petals to have better access to the seeds. Kind of cute but annoying!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:20AM
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So which kinds will breed true from the seed - will any of them? I have a few of the newer types and was just out collecting seeds today but there's no point if they are different than the plant. I have Sundown, Razzmatazz, Green Eyes Wink (or something like that)and supposedly the double decker pink one although it doesn't do the double decker thing. I also have the old white and purple ones. Thanks for some advice.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 3:48PM
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