Inching toward warm spring days, we look at right plant choices for the right location with native origin plant examples.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pupurea) is a drought-tolerant perennial of the daisy family that grows from a tap root. Echinacea is native to eastern and central North America prairieland open woods and is common in yards of this region.
The composite flowerhead has purple flowers and central disk flowers that received its name in likeness to sea urchins. Like most native plants, many pollinators visit its flowers.
Echinacea is an herbaceous plant with stiff stems and rough leaves that is not a first browsing choice for deer and rabbits.
Seed packets of purple coneflower are available to grow transplants. They require longer seed to transplant growth under lights indoors than tomatoes, and it’s time for this gardener to start them!
Hardiness Zone information on plant tags is one of the first considerations in choosing plants that will likely grow well in a region. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Zone data was compiled from 1976-2005 lowest average temperature in an area. Erratic weather, unusual periods of low temperatures, and more recent warming climate add factors to think about.
Micro-climates with full sun and wind protection may allow plants at edge-of-zone to grow well. Matching local soil and plants that tolerate the soil is a consideration. Native echinacea tolerates clay soil and alkaline pH found in some areas of the region. Drought tolerance enables the plant to endure dry conditions.
Variety of colors, size of plants, and other characteristics are found in cultivars, including the native echinacea, USDA Zone 3-8. While the plants are bred for these additional characteristics, some cultivars may lack hardiness or other quality that makes the parent plant so well suited to location. These echinacea grew here last season. Will they overwinter like the purple coneflower?
For time and money in choosing right plants for right places, local nursery professionals are a valuable resource. With so many growing factors, their guidance may help in choosing plants that thrive in the region.
The Spring 2023 Northern Gardener magazine features hardiness zones and other growing factors to consider for right plant choices for the location. The magazine is available for browsing at the Yankton Community Library.
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