Purple coneflower plants (Echinacea purpurea) create purple daisylike blooms on 3 1/2-foot stems. The petals of these impressive flowers fold backward, making a dark cone of deep orange at the center. When grown in sunlight for six to eight hours a day in fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0 purple, coneflowers bloom from midsummer until fall. These hardy perennials thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Pollination occurs when flying insects visit the flowers and carry the pollen to new flowers.
Purple coneflowers contain both male and female components. The male section of the bloom, the stamen, creates pollen, while the female portion, the pistil, is a receptor to the pollen. For seeds to form, the coneflower has to be pollinated via cross-pollination — which means the pollen from 1 flower has to be pulled on the pistil of a flower on a different plant.
Long-tongued mammals and mammals are the principal pollinators for your purple coneflower. As they visit the flower to sip nectar, the sticky pollen collects on their bodies and legs. This begins the first step in cross-pollination.
Insects that have seen the coneflower soon visit the flowers on neighboring coneflower plants. When this happens the pollen on their bodies and legs is broken to the new flower. Since the female portion of the flower, the pistil, is tacky, the pollen now sticks into the pistil.
The pollinated flower now begins the process of creating seeds so that it can continue its life cycle. If the pollen is from exactly the same variety of coneflower, the resulting seeds will create flowers identical to the parent plants. If you’re growing several varieties of coneflowers, nevertheless, the seeds produced may create new plants distinct from the parent plants.
If you want to save the seeds from your coneflowers for replanting the following year, do not plant more than 1 variety of coneflower in the same location. If you simply want to enjoy your coneflowers and depart the seeds for the birds, then it does not matter if other varieties are increased near your coneflowers. Cross-pollination between varieties does not impact the overall look of the blooms on your own coneflower plants.