Echinacea, also known as coneflowers, are herbaceous perennial plants that grow up to 140cm high and grow from a short basal stem with fibrous roots. Echinacea produces beautiful composite flower heads during the summer. Other species used as medicine include E. angustifolia and E. pallida.
Echinacea will grow best in a sunny spot and even in lightly shaded areas. Provide average loamy soil with some organic matter, about a neutral pH.
How to Plant
Plants should be at least 40cm apart. When growing from seed you will get better germination rates with 4 to 6 weeks of cold stratification. Sow seeds and cover lightly with soil.
How to Water
Keep the plants moist until they have a few sets of leaves then water once a week when there is no rain. Echinacea is drought tolerant so do not over water.
Grow Echinacea with other flowers, herbs and vegetables including eggplant, broccoli, brussell sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chillies, peppers and tomatoes.
How to Propagate
Echinacea can be grown by root division, basal cuttings and clumps can be divided, usually in the autumn or spring.
How to Harvest
Flowers are gathered in full bloom and roots of 3 to 4 year old plants are harvested in the late summer or early autumn.
Fresh and dried root is used primarily, the flowers are used occasionally.
A tincture of the root (dosage is about 1.5ml in water 3 times a day), Decoction of the root (as a gargle for example) and you can make capsules with powdered root.(1)
Stimulates the immune system and improves resistance to infections. (3) Other uses include Acne and boils, allergic rhinitis, bites and stings, chilblains, cold sores, coughs and bronchitis, earache, flu, sore throat, tonsillitis, mind asthma, mouth ulcers, urinary and fungal infections.
Glycosides (caffeic acid derivatives: echinacoside, isochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid, cichoric acid), polysaccharides (inulin), glycoproteins, aminds (alkamides), volatile oils, polyacetylenes, flavonoids, alkaloids. (3)
General tonic, immune stimulator, lymphatic, antimicobial (antibacterial & antiviral), anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal, detoxifer, bitter. (3)
Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1·4 days on average. Published evidence supports echinacea’s benefit in decreasing the incidence and duration of the common cold. (24)