The plant is a true sun worshiper. During the flowering period from July to September, when exposed to sunlight, the golden-yellow ray flowers around the dark brown center unfold their full splendor and look amazingly like a real sun hat. Since the different species grow between 30 cm and 300 cm in height, these herbaceous plants leave plenty of scope for creative design. The sun hat hardly attaches importance to special care, but increases its popularity with hobby gardeners thanks to its almost proverbial resilience. There is a risk of confusion with the sun hats (Echinacea), which in Germany are also often referred to as hedgehog heads and are visually and characteristically clearly different from the sun hat.
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Widely used in Germany and around the world
The sun hat is not only common in rural areas, but also in gardens and allotments near large cities, and there is a good reason for that. Despite its frugality, it offers a lush picture with up to 10 flowers per plant. Since the upright stalks mostly have wide ramifications, weeds on the ground below have little chance of spreading. The coneflower can find sufficient living conditions even on clay soil, where otherwise hardly any attractive plant can settle. It can cope with a longer dry season over a certain period of time as well as with a longer, heavy downpour. Even if the hobby gardener does not carry out specific propagation, the plant bushes become wider and more luxuriant from year to year through self-propagation.
A suitable location promotes splendor
The sun hat feels most comfortable in a sunny location. Although the plant can cope with partial shade, it cannot fully exploit the existing potential in its growth. The visual effect of the coneflower is enhanced when it is planted in small groups, surrounded by various ornamental grasses, delphiniums, flame flowers or in front of an evergreen hedge. This creates a play of colors in nature that pulls the viewer under its spell. Since the coneflower comes in different heights between 30 cm and 300 cm, it is advisable to place the smaller specimens at the edge of the flowerbed and to put the higher-growing plants towards the middle. In terms of the nature of the soil, the sun hat does not make any great demands.
Sowing possible from April to September
If you want to enrich your garden with the magnificent sun hat for the first time, you can get the appropriate seed packets from qualified specialist shops. The following equipment is required:
- Garden rake
- Garden rake
The selected location is first cleared of all weeds by loosening the soil with the garden rake and removing the foreign plants as well as stones or roots. The finer the soil, the greater the chances of successful plant growth. The ideal planting depth for the seeds is about 0.50 cm, with a planting distance of 40 cm (about a foot’s length).
Now lightly press the seeds down and pour a well-dosed amount of water. During the germination period of 2 to 3 weeks, the plants that do not develop are sorted out so that the strong seedlings have enough space to develop. Then the young sun hats can be transplanted to the place intended for them
Multiplication by division
Anyone who is already the proud owner of a lush coneflower culture can do without buying new seeds for propagation. As with most perennials, the population of coneflowers can easily be increased by dividing them. In this case, the perennial that has become too large is best dug up with a digging fork and divided into two or more individual pieces. These are then replanted in the desired places at a distance of at least 40 cm. When propagating younger plants or those with a filigree root system, the plant parts are carefully pulled apart by hand instead of dividing them with a knife or spade. In any case, ingrown weeds should be carefully and carefully removed before the parts of the sun hat are buried again.
Cuttings as an elegant alternative to dividing
As late summer approaches, this is the ideal time to propagate the coneflower with cuttings. It is worth taking a close look at the flower stalks and choosing the non-flowering tips that have at least 3 pairs of leaves. This cutting is placed about 3 cm deep in the potting soil and poured abundantly with water without drowning it. After about 6 weeks, enough roots will have formed to plant each new coneflower in a separate flower pot. A week later, the shoot tips are carefully cut and the long waiting period through the winter begins. During this cold season, the plant pots should neither be too cold nor too warm. In any case, however, drying out of the substrate should be avoided.
Frugality does not mean completely giving up care
If the location and the nature of the soil are correct, this does not mean that the sun hat can do without regular maintenance – no matter how undemanding it is. The following factors must be taken into account for effective plant care:
- regularly work compost into the soil;
- water in the evenings on hot summer days;
- water more moderately on other days;
- use organic-mineral fertilizer every spring;
- loosen the earth regularly with a rake;
- cut off dead flower heads to encourage new growth;
- check for pests at least once a week;
- ideal neighbors are sage and verbena.
Depending on the weather, the coneflower blooms well into October. Once the heyday is finally over, the hobby gardener has to make a decision. He can already cut the stems of the coneflower to about a hand’s breadth from the ground or he can leave them standing until next spring. The latter should especially please the native birds, which can feast on the remaining flower seeds in the hard season. In addition, the garden doesn’t look so bare then. In addition, snow and frost conjure up attractive winter decorations in the garden from the stems of the sun hat. The stems of the coneflower are then only cut off in spring shortly before the new shoots. Since each variant has its advantages and disadvantages, the decision is up to each hobby gardener personally.
Also a feast for the eyes as a decorative container plant
Enthusiastic hobby gardeners who have a large terrace, roof garden or balcony at their disposal, but do not have much leeway with regard to planting beds, appreciate the advantages of the sun hat as a container plant. In particular, the variety with a growth of up to 40 cm is ideal for transforming the terrace and the like into a sea of flowers for many months.So that the terrace or balcony doesn’t look so dreary and deserted in winter, more and more hobby gardeners are using the hardy sun hat in suitable planters, hanging baskets or flower boxes. Terracotta, ceramics and earthenware pots are less suitable for this purpose, because they rarely withstand frost. Wooden buckets, wicker baskets or galvanized washtubs are better suited for this purpose. In any case, a suitable drainage system is essential. A nutrient-rich potting soil is placed on top of a drainage layer made from potsherds or pebbles and is then piled up around the coneflower plant. The sun hat comes into its own in the planter when it is surrounded by smaller perennials such as flame flowers or sage. An additional coating made of a 10 cm thick insulating layer, which prevents the frost from penetrating so quickly, ensures safe wintering. In this way, the terrace and balcony offer some eye-catchers even during the dark and barren season, especially when nature decorates them with snow and frost.
Pests do not stop at sun hat either
As robust and resistant as the sun hat is, it is not entirely immune to pests. The good news on this subject is: snails avoid the sun hat because they don’t like it at all. However, powdery mildew can cause problems for this perennial. This is a fungal disease that spreads quickly, especially in the months of July to September, and not only affects the coneflower. Leaves and shoots have a white coating when infected, which should be treated as soon as possible so that it does not spread to the other plants in the bed. If you want to try it without the use of chemical bombs first, you need the following things:
- Washing-up liquid
- Milk or whey
- baking powder
- Cooking oil
- sulphurous pesticides
The milk is diluted 1: 9, which means 9 parts water to one part milk. The mixing ratio for whey is 1:30. The infected parts of the plant are treated with it twice a week. Alternatively, a mixture of 50 ml of cooking oil, 3 packets of baking powder and a little washing-up liquid, which is topped up with 5 liters of water and sprayed on the diseased plants every 10 to 14 days, is suitable. If there is no success, the only solution is to use a sulfur-containing spray from a specialist retailer. By the way, powdery mildew in nature also has real enemies, like ladybugs and other small animals. If you create a home for these useful helpers, you usually no longer need to worry about powdery mildew on coneflowers and other plants.
The bright yellow sun hat is a true gift from nature. Even amateur gardeners who are starting their first attempts at planting have the best chance of planting a magnificent abundance of flowers in their garden straight away. Without making great demands, the coneflower enriches plant beds and tubs, keeps voracious snails at bay and provides plenty of supplies for busy bees. As a cut flower, it stays in the vase for many days and contributes to the interior decoration of the home.