Echinacea tennesseensis

As I write this I am far behind on my daily to-do list and was wondering what I should blog about this week.  Over the weekend I was walking through our pollinator garden and was admiring the coneflowers that are currently blooming.  We all know and love the purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea and is probably one of the few most commonly known botanical names.  However, do you know one of their native cousins, the Tennessee coneflower?  We were lucky to pick up three last year from a local garden center and planted them in our pollinator garden last fall.

The Tennessee coenflower was one of the first plants to be placed on the Endangered Species list and was thought to be extinct in the wild until 1968.  You can guess the natural range of this plant from the name, Tennessee, and is limited to only three counties in that state.  Thanks to conservation efforts the plant was moved from endangered to threatened in 2011 and efforts are still in place to preserve this natural beauty.

As I said, I picked up three last fall from a garden center but only one made it over the winter.  I didn’t do much homework before we bought this plant because I thought all coneflowers had similar requirements.  However, after doing some research I found that this particular species grows only in a few inches of soil on top of limestone rock.  This means the plant likes loose, fast draining soils and Southeast Nebraska soils is far from that.  So if you decide to plant these they should have the soil well amended to allow for fast drainage.  Might also be appropriate to avoid thick layers of mulch.

So, lesson learned and we picked up two replacements and giving it another shot.  Hopefully with some compost and less mulch the two new plants will become established in our garden.


Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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