Echinacea is one of my favourite flowers to grow because it is a hardy perennial that survives our Canadian winters, it smells amazing, looks beautiful and my pollinators LOVE it!
Here is a short how-to blog post for harvesting seed from your Echinacea patch. Harvesting your own seed saves you money while you collect spawns of your already successful and adapted flower patch.
First, start by collecting the dried flower heads in a bowl. I do this as early as September and right up until November. Make sure to cut the heads when they have COMPLETELY dried and turned black. Try not to cut them while they still have colour as it is harder to pluck the seeds out. I use pruners and cut off the head at the base where it meets the stem.
After you have collected all of the heads that are ready to seed, take them indoors. I tried doing this outside in these photos but the seeds are so light that they carry in the wind rather well.
Try doing it on a dark table or cloth because the although the spikes are dark, the seeds are a light cream colour.
Start by taking a seed head between your thumb and forefinger. Push your thumb back (kind of like pinching it) resulting in laying the spikes down and parting the seed pods underneath. This should start opening up the inside and making the seed pods more visible.
Be aware! You will get stabbed with the spikes. You can try wearing gloves but I found that was more annoying as the seeds are so delicate and gloves can be cumbersome.
As you continue to pluck off all of the seeds, I toss them all in a bowl with the spikes. You can choose to separate the seeds from the spikes but since I’m putting them back in my meadow, I’ll leave the spikes in there to decompose once planted.
Be sure to not be wasteful, take all the seeds and spikes and compost the left-overs.
I harvested 20 heads before I couldn’t feel my thumbs anymore. This full bowl is what I got from 20 heads. This will be more then enough seed for me to plant in the spring and start a new patch of Echinacea.
My flower patch produces enough seed each year to harvest, plant and re-sell. From this bowl I will plant designated patches of Echinacea in set locations.
For the rest of the dried seed heads that I do not harvest, I will cut and toss them in the meadow where I want them to grow.
They are natures little seed bombs that can be tossed just about anywhere!
I have taken this shortcut in the past with many different kinds of dried seed heads and have been gifted the beautiful surprise of large blooms popping up all over the farm in the spring.
These seeds can be planted indoors and transplanted after first frost or direct sown in the early spring. I find it very hard to mess up growing Echinacea. Therefore it’s reliable, hardy and a must have for my farm.
I also dry the flowers for medicinal teas and animal treats in the off season. The ripe leaves are loved by my bunnies, pigs, sheep and donkeys. The pollinators go crazy for my Echinacea patch and even my ducks love to lay in and around the bottom to hide their eggs. This plant is truly enjoyed by all of us here on the farm.
Thank you for reading! Good luck with your seed harvest!