Growing Echincaea from Seed: Forget About it!

Growing Echincaea from Seed: Forget About it!

Today I’m going to tell you of a special technique for growing Echinacea or coneflowers from seed. You may have heard of this technique before and perhaps you’ve even tried it. Whether you have or haven’t this technique is worth trying I call it: forgetting you planted the seeds.
Here’s how forgetting you planted the seeds works step by step. 
  • The gardener plants the seeds in a container, in my case a long planter container. 
  • They water and watch the seedlings for a brief period of time. 
  • Nothing happens with the seeds, no growth, no sprouting and the gardener gives up or forgets about the seeds. 
  • Time passes. 
  • Then the gardener comes back one day 3-4 months later to find multiple seedlings emerging from the same soil!
Why does this technique work so well? Often seeds have a built in dormancy period.  Either they need animals to nibble out the outer coating or the elements to wear it away so that the seed may germinate. Sometimes seeds need a period of winter cold to stratify and break their dormancy which is why fall or winter sowing of perennials works so well. Not everything needs a period of dormancy but if you have trouble germinating seeds check to see if the plant does need a dormant period. Or better yet, check that before you start!


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Done it a million times. Cleome seeds come up years after they are scattered.

  2. Is there hope for the zinnias that never germinated in the garden! gail

  3. Very familiar with plant and forget approach.

  4. Ha! This happens to us all the time with the hot ornamental pepper seeds. We plant soemthing else in what looks like an "empty" pot, only to find gorgeous purple pepper seedlings sprouting beneath our coleus or whatever. Fun!

  5. So true this is what happened to me with hops this year.

    I usually grow echinacea outside from seed. I simply sprinkle the seeds in the fall where I want them to grow. They usually sprout in late spring.

  6. Great. My problem is not only forgetting where they were planted I can't recognize the seedlings.

  7. Just throw those echinacea seeds out in moist areas of the garden in the fall. Next summer, you'll see sprouts – by fall, you might even have blooms (I do from the Prairie Splendor that I collected from last fall's blooms).


  8. Hi everyone!

    Thanks for all the comments, I've been out of town for the last couple days on a family vacation and am catching up on things.

    Usually I sprinkle the echincacea seeds wherever but I was trying a targeted approach! I had hoped to cultivate them and transplant them where I wanted them. It looks like I'll get to do that but just a little later than I originally planned!

  9. Seeds are such the mystery. How do they do that anyway?? ;~)

  10. That's great, Dave. We too have the very best luck with this method, not just for echinceas either. We call it part of the Semi school of gardening, doing nothing after initial plantings. 🙂

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