Echinacea Cleanup

echinaceamaniac(7)July 24, 2011

I deadheaded the Echinaceas and made bouquets for the goldfinches to eat the seeds. I tied these to the base of the poles that hold the birdfeeders. My plants look better and I kind of like the look of the seedheads bundled together. The goldfinches are going to enjoy the buffet!

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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

This is such a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing. I like to keep the seed heads for the little birds, too, and this is a great solution. In our case, our bird feeders are on hangers on a high deck so we don't have a pole base. I might try to make up a pot of the dried seed heads to place on our deck so we can watch the birds enjoy the seeds.

Do you wait until the seed heads are completely dry before cutting them? Some of mine are very dry and others are still in various stages of maturity. They do make the beds look a bit tacky at this stage. :-)


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:19AM
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I try to wait until the stalk starts turning brown under the seedhead. However, some of these were cut anyways to make the plants look better. The goldfinches love them! They also love the seeds of my Agastache 'Golden Jubilee.' I've been watching them from the window. They are such beautiful birds!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:36AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

What a terrific idea! I always leave mine for the goldfinches and love to watch them perched atop them, but the plants do start looking pretty bad. This is a much better solution that keeps everyone happy! Thanks for the idea.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 2:12PM
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yeonasky(z8b VancouverBC)

My echs are just blooming. It appears I'm quite a bit behind you here in Vancouver BC. I love the idea and will happily 'borrow' it. :) Thanks.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:12PM
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Thanks for sharing the idea! I have a couple of questions:

1. Do other birds like Echinacea seeds? I do not think I ever had goldfinches in my garden. Have plenty of other birds.
2. Do double E. have seeds or they are sterile? Sorry for my ignorance :o)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:47PM
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I know other finches like the seeds as well. I've also noticed Indigo Buntings on them.

Some doubles do make seeds but not as good as the single type.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 1:34PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Cliff, My coneflower plants are so loaded with blooms still, that I had to tie one plant up with garden twine, and the other I put some fencing around it. Should I cut them back to tidy up the plant? Will they rebloom if I clip the blooms off now? I do not know the variety of any of my coneflowers, they all seem to be in the pink/purple range. One plant must be a different variety because it is probably only 24 or 28 inches tall(my guess without going outside to measure it) the others are at least 3 ft. tall or more. I know I got some of the seeds from the public library and may have got some more in the wintersowing swap.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:41PM
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Sometimes they will rebloom, but I'd wait until you aren't happy with the way the blooms look. If they are flopping badly, you could cut some for vases. I usually cut mine after the stems start turning brown so I can either save seeds or feed the finches. Deadheading does increase the chances of rebloom. It's just a matter of what you prefer.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Cher(6 SW OH)

Love this idea. I just deadheaded a bunch and they are trashed but next time that is what I will do and in fact for winter that is exactly what I will do for them to feed on then. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 6:45AM
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Super idea!!! A great way to please both the birds and the gardener!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 10:09AM
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How do you people save the seeds? My flower heads are always rotting as soon as they finish blooming.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 11:27AM
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The flower petals should wither away, but if you don't cut them, they form the seed heads.
I collect them by cutting the seed heads into a paper bag. That way, even if I don't get around to cleaning them immediately, they will be safe to store for a long period of time. I usually collect about three lunch-zized bags of seed for various projects here. I try to collect them when I notice the birds eating them - usually between the end of September until the end of November here.
I leave much more seed on the plants than I collect.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 1:07PM
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Well, they do not form seed heads for me.Or maybe they form but they rot immediately. They are totally rotten before even 1 seed can mature. They can begin to rot even when the flower is only half-way-there. I get seed heads on every plant except echinacea.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 1:57PM
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Campanula UK Z8

it has been increasingly popular in the UK to leave all the old faded perennials until spring. Garden mags generally show photos of sere but architectural icescapes of hoarfrost on the heads of sedum, echinaceas and rudbeckias, grasses, asters and so on. For a couple of years, I too tried this leaving alone, only for my garden never to look remotely like a magazine shoot....and if, for some reason, it fleetingly managed it, I would definately not be around to see it in the dawn light - hoar frost is what I want to see on the outside of my windows after being up all night. At any rate, by the end of October,my garden is a collapsing, floundering heap and I am bored and fed up and really want to pull everything out, plant bulbs and think about next year(which will be better than this year). Even so, there are always a few strays, particularly on my allotment, which is altogether wilder, and echinaceas are the most likely to hang around. Your goldfinches might not be the same as our goldfinches but the top plant, for leaving over winter, as both a food source and an interesting seedhead are teasels (dipsacum something?)
I like your arrangement of heads, e.maniac - I now may actually try something more artful than just adding to the towering compost pile (although I do hang the sunflower heads on top of the chainlink around my allotment).

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I always leave garden cleanup for spring. Winter here is about snow, so it is good to leave some sort of form and structure behind. Birds and other animals will eat the seed and cleanup in spring is a breeze after winter has done its work.
Wieslaw, what kind of echinacea do you grow?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 10:29AM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

To prevent self sowing I cut the dried seed heads and place them in a 5 gal pail full of soil/sand which I place near the bird feeders. The birds get seed to eat and I have fewer seedlings to move or compost the next spring.

I tried leaving the seed heads on plants over the winter but find that we get so much snow that plants don't last long before the stems are broken and/or they are covered. Not an effective winter interest item for me. I don't cut back my red twig dogwood until spring. Those red twigs hold up well and if the deer don't eat them they make a nice winter accent.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 12:10AM
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