How to Cut Back Echinacea

Echinacea appeals to gardeners who want an ornamental perennial that requires little water or care. However, as with all plants, echinacea looks best if provided with occasional maintenance and pruning. Cutting back echinacea is one of the simplest and most effective ways of improving its appearance since it prolongs the plant’s already lengthy blooming period and keeps it from taking over your garden through self-seeding. Best of all, you need only cut back echinacea once or twice a year to see a significant increase in its blooming.

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1.Cut back echinacea in early summer to prolong its blooming period and to promote a bushier, more compact shape. Wait until after the first flush of blooms appears before cutting back the plant.

2.Run a hose at the base of the echinacea plants the day before pruning to hydrate the stems and foliage. This prevents stress from moisture loss. Water until the soil is wet at a depth of 2 inches.

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3.Cut each flowering stem back by half using clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors. Cut back the whole plant to delay flowering until autumn, or cut back only half the stems to enjoy the flowers throughout the summer and autumn months.

4.Snip off the flowering stems 1/4 inch above a set of leaves. Make the cut straight across since angled cuts expose a larger portion of the inner flesh, leaving the plant open to moisture loss and infection.

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5.Cut the plants back to ground level in autumn after the first killing frost. Discard the dead growth. Mulch lightly around the base of the echinacea using pine needles if growing the plant at higher elevations, along north-facing slopes or in inland areas with less marine influence.

Things You Will Need:

  • Pruning shears
  • Pine needle mulch

Tip:  Echinacea grows well within Sunset’s Climate Zones A2 and A3, as well as 1 through 24, 26 and 28 through 45.