Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 20, 2007

From: West Bloomfield, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Leggy purple coneflower
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Last year I planted purple coneflowers and this year when they bloomed they were extremely tall & leggy. I'd like next year to get them to be shorter and fuller. How do I do that & is it something I should do to them this year or next year? Also, should they be cut all the way down in the fall?

ANSWER:

Echinacea purpurea (eastern purple coneflower) is naturally a tall and leggy plant. The height of the plant is given at 2 feet to 5 feet, and that is almost all stems for the flowers, as the basic plant is a low-growing rosette, with smaller leaves along the stems up toward the flowers. Legginess in plants is usually caused by too much shade and, although this plant is said to be tolerant of part shade, perhaps yours are getting too much shade. Since I don't think there is any way a plant can be trained to be shorter, and since you are obviously growing the plant for its lovely wildlife-attracting flowers, it would seem your choices are to move the plants into a sunnier spot and get used to tall flowers. In answer to your question about cutting them down in the fall, if you would like to give the birds a chance at the seeds in the "cone", don't deadhead them too soon. However, just about any plant benefits from having spent flowers and stems clipped off and discarded. This will encourage them to bloom more and help to prevent disease and insects from gathering around the dead plant tissue.

 


Echinacea purpurea

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Trimming of Escarpment Oak from Austin
May 18, 2014 - We have a 2-year-old quercus fusiformis in our front yard and have been advised by some people that we need to remove the bottom branches and trim the ends of the branches that are hanging far down. ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of pods when pruning Tecoma stans
May 10, 2013 - When pruning Tecoma stans for growth and shape control,should I cut off the pods?
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

How can I control underground runners from from Pride of Houston Yaupons in Austin, TX?
July 16, 2010 - How can I control the underground runners from the Pride of Houston Yaupons?
view the full question and answer

Problems with Texas Mountain Laurel in Dallas
May 04, 2010 - I have a Texas Mountain Laurel that is about 3 years old. When I bought it 2 summers ago, it was about a foot high. Now it is over 6 feet. It seems to have grown so fast that the branches can't ke...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.