Echinacea purpurea seed is easy to germinate. The following information is provided by Richo Cech (1995).
The seed can be spring-planted without cold, or cold stratification, to germinate.
Propagation is easily done in flats, which are sown with approximately ¼ ounce of seed per flat, evenly sprinkled on the surface and covered with about ¼ inch of potting soil.
The flats are left outdoors through the winter and watered if necessary.
A light screen over the flats will diminish the severity of heavy rain and snow, and will also keep out cats.
Spring germination can be greatly enhanced by bringing the flat of cold-conditioned seed into the greenhouse, whereupon rapid germination may be expected.
Once the second set of true leaves appears, the seedlings are put into pots or are spaced at approximately two inch centers in another deep flat. Seedlings must be carefully weeded and watered.
In late spring or early summer, the hardy seedlings, now with a four-to-six inch root system, may be transplanted into the field or garden one or two feet apart.
Regular spacing with one foot between the plants and two feet between the rows will result in approximately 21, 800 plants per acre. A generous two-foot spacing with three feet between the rows will result in approximately 7,500 plants per acre.
Timely watering during dry periods greatly increases the size of this plant. A sparing side dressing of organic compost, usually in the mid-spring, will assist this sometimes slow-growing herbaceous perennial in outranking competitive weeds.
An ounce of well-cleaned E. purpurea seed contains approximately 6,000 seeds. A pound contains around 96,000 seeds. Given a normal spacing of one foot between the plants and two feet between the rows, an acre would contain 21,800 plants. Given a 68% germination rate, a pound of good seed could produce three acres of plants. This same acre, dormant harvested for the roots at the end of the second year of growth, would produce (at 1/2 lb. per root) 10,900 lbs of fresh root.
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