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What to Do With Coneflower After It Blooms – Fall Coneflower Care!

Wondering what to do with your coneflower plants after they finish blooming in late summer? Believe it or not, as your coneflower blooms slowly fade away late in the season, it’s actually the perfect time to perform a few simple chores that can have them ready to grow and bloom even better next year!

With its bright green foliage and vibrant petals that radiate from a unique dome-shaped seed head, coneflower adds a beautiful burst of color to any landscape. Not only is the perennial attractive to humans, it also happens to be one of the best late-summer blooming plants for attracting important pollinators to your flowerbed and garden spaces.

Even better, although bees and butterflies enjoy working its blooms, deer, rabbits and most insects stay clear of the plant. And to boot, it’s even drought resistant too!

What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms
With its interesting bloom shape and brilliant color, coneflower adds unique interest to any landscape.

Although the exact blooming period can vary depending on the specific variety and local conditions and climate, most coneflower plants come into bloom in mid to late summer. Most varieties will bloom anywhere from four to six weeks at most.

But once coneflowers finish their blooming cycle, it’s then the perfect time for not only cutting them back and preparing them for winter, but also dividing and transplanting any overgrown plants as well. Not only does it keep them healthy and vibrant for next year, it gives you more plants for free!

What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms

To Deadhead Or Not To Deadhead

Deadheading, which is the practice of removing blooms as they fade or begin to die off, is a touchy subject for many gardeners when it comes to coneflowers.

Some like to leave the flower heads that are filled with seeds in place. This is because it is a great source of food for birds in late fall and early winter. Other gardeners prefer to cut the seed heads off to keep their flowerbeds looking tidy. Removing them also prevents volunteer plants from growing next year from seed.

As the summer days fade and temperatures start to cool, coneflowers will naturally start to slowly weaken and lose some of their vitality.

So what is the best option? Actually, a bit of early deadheading can be extremely beneficial to coneflower plants. Removing the first wave of blooms early on not only keeps your plants looking neat, it also encourages the plant to produce and flower stronger for the duration of its bloom cycle.

To deadhead early on, snip off any faded flowers just above the first set of healthy leaves. Removing the spent flower will help focus the plant’s energy to bolster the remaining blooms. It also stops the energy loss of the plant trying to form seeds on the dying bloom. See: How To Deadhead Annual & Perennial Flowers – Get More Blooms On Your Plants!

Deadheading Late In The Season – What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms

Late in the season, as the summer days fade and the temperatures start to cool, coneflowers will naturally start to lose their vitality and their final set of blooms. It’s at this point when many gardeners will leave the remaining flower heads for the birds.

Although this can certainly be done, it is far better to remove the stems and seed heads and simply place them elsewhere for birds to feed from. Why? Because this allows you to cut back the entire plant before winter, which has a lot more benefits for the following year’s bloom sets.

coneflower seed head
The seed heads of coneflowers are a great source of food for birds. Even if you cut them from the plant, they can be left out for birds to feed from.

Cutting back your coneflowers not only keeps them looking neat but also encourages the plant to focus any remaining energy on building strong roots for the next growing season. To cut back, simply take your pruners or hedge trimmers and trim the stems down to around 3 to 5 inches above the ground.

Once the plant has been cut back, this is also the perfect time to divide any of your coneflowers that have become overly large or unruly.

Dividing Overgrown PlantsWhat to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms

Over time, the roots of coneflowers can become a little too large for their original space. As they do, it can lead to less than ideal health for the plant – and far less blooming each year. Even more, overcrowding creates increased vulnerability to pests and diseases.

But by dividing overgrown plants you can easily keep them fresh and healthy. Dividing is the perfect solution to give plants breathing room, a fresh start in the soil, and best of all, plenty of extra plants – all for free! With that in mind, here is a quick look at how to easily divide and transplant overgrown coneflower plants.

How To Divide Coneflowers – What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms
  • Gently dig up the entire plant by working around the edges of the plant with a shovel. Once you have cut around the edges the plant should lift easily from the soil.
  • Use your hands or the space of the shovel to gently separate or slice the plant into smaller clumps. Each clump should have at least a few inches of healthy roots and shoots for replanting.
  • Replant as soon as possible to allow the roots to re-establish before winter. Amend the soil with a bit of compost and spacing transplants about 18 to 24 inches apart. Make sure to water thoroughly after planting.
  • Depending on the fall weather, your plants may send up a few new green shoots before finally going dormant for fall. The new shoots will not harm the plant.

Saving Seeds – What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms

Another way to grow more coneflowers is via seed. And it couldn’t be easier to save seeds from your existing flower heads in the fall!

Snip off the seed heads when deadheading and allow to dry naturally. They can be left in the sun, but be sure to protect them from wildlife. If not, they will help themselves to the seed. Once the seed heads are dry and brown, gently collect the seeds. The easiest way to do this is by rubbing them from the seed head with your fingers.

Store seeds in a cool, dry place over winter. When spring arrives, you can sow seeds to grow new coneflowers. It’s a rewarding and simple way to extend the beauty of these flowers in your garden or share with friends. And with little effort!

Preparing For Winter – What to Do With Coneflower After it Blooms

Once your plants have been cut back and you have divided and transplanted any of your larger coneflowers, it is time to prepare all of you plants for winter.

Whether by dividing or planting new seed, you can have plenty of extra coneflower plants for your landscape for free.

One thing you don’t want to do is fertilize coneflower late in the season. Fertilizing encourages late season growth that is highly susceptible to winter damage. Instead, the best thing you can do is provide a little winter protection with a fresh coat of mulch.

Use a natural mulch like straw or wood chips and spread to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Be mindful not to pile the mulch up too heavy against the stems. This can lead to moisture buildup which can cause the roots to rot. All that is left is to wait until next spring and summer to enjoy your plants more than ever!

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This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books and speaking for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. They publish three articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along!