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FOCUS ON HERBS: ZONE 7: ECHINACEA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into eleven growing zones. These are determined by weather patterns, and this system helps gardeners identify plants that grow well in their region. Zone 7 has a moderately long growing season that lasts about eight months, with an annual low temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The first frost is around November 15th, and the last frost is around April 15th.

When choosing herbs for the garden, if a perennial herb that isn’t suited to zone 7 is desired, grow it in a container and then bring it indoors over the winter. If the difference is minor, between zones a and b, plant the herb in a protected area, in an alcove, or between a solid fence and a building. If this isn’t possible, mulch heavily around the plant in the fall and the plant should survive the winter.


PLANT PROFILE:

ECHINACEA (Echinacea purpurea):

Echinacea is commonly known as “coneflower” for its cone-shaped blooms that are capped by a prickly dome of seed heads. Echinacea is an important source of nectar for butterflies and many birds, particularly goldfinches, who flock to the plant to devour the seeds. Echinacea thrives in full to partial sun, and needs at least four hours of sunlight per day. The plants grow natively along the edges of woodlands, and will thrive in spots with morning shade and afternoon sun. Plant in spring or fall in well-drained soil. Echinacea will tolerate poor rocky soil, but will not grow in wet, mucky soil. Mulch plants with compost at the time of planting, and, since Echinacea establishes deep taproots, plant them where you want them as they do not like to be moved once established.


Echinacea is a clump-forming perennial that grows 12-36 inches wide, and up to 48 inches tall, depending on the variety. The plants have an upright habit with large flowers that have cone-shaped centers borne on tall, straight stalks. It is a low-water and drought tolerant plant once established, and it only requires watering if there has been no rain for eight weeks or more.


Echinacea Throat Spray: By the Science & Art of Herbalism:

This spray is cooling, refreshing and healing for infected/sore throats.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup of echinacea tincture, 1/8 cup of vegetable glycerin or honey, 1/8 cup of water, and a drop or two of peppermint essential oil.

Directions: Mix the echinacea tincture with the glycerin and water. Add the peppermint essential oil drop by drop until the right flavor for your taste is achieved. Pour into a spritzer bottle. Label and date.

How to Use: Spray directly into the mouth and to the back of the throat.



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