How to Cut Coneflowers for a Vase or Bouquet

With their tall, elegant flower stems and central structural cones, it’s no surprise that coneflowers are fantastic as cut flowers. Echinacea flowers are excellent for creating summer or fall flower vase arrangements, and you can use both flower stems and seed heads to add color and structure to your displays. In this article, we’ll explain how to cut coneflowers for a vase or bouquet arrangement.

How to Cut Coneflowers for a Vase or Bouquet

Key Takeaways

Coneflower stems should only be harvested from established plants. Cut stems once the flowers start blooming and the petals are unfurling. Make sure the stems feel strong and firm. Cut coneflower stems last approximately four to seven days. Harvest seed heads once flowering has finished.

Best Tools for Cutting Coneflowers

A person cutting yellow coneflowers in a garden

To cut coneflower stems, use a pair of sharp pruning shears or secateurs. When cutting any flower, it’s essential to clean and sterilize your shears before and after each cut. This prevents the spread of unseen diseases. Wash your pruning shears in warm, soapy water before cutting your coneflowers.

When to Cut Coneflowers for Cut Flower Arrangements

Pink coneflowers in bloom during the summer in a garden

Choosing the right time to cut your coneflower stems helps them last a little longer. It’s important only to take cuttings from strong, established plants. Gently shake each flower stem and only harvest if the stem feels firm and the flower doesn’t wobble too much.

Coneflower blooms should be cut just before they’re in full flower when the petals have started unfurling. It’s also worth checking that the pistils of the central flower cone are still light green. The best time to cut a flower stem is in the early morning or late evening rather than mid-afternoon.

The blooms will last longer by cutting younger flowers because they’ll continue to unfurl in the vase. Using your shears, remove the stem with a diagonal cut and remove the lower leaves. Place the stem in a vase of lukewarm water.

You can also cut the seed heads of an Echinacea to add some beautiful structure to a flower vase. Wait until later in the season when the petals are wilting, and the cones have started turning brown. Remove the fading petals and any foliage, and put the stem into a vase of lukewarm water.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting Coneflowers

A person cutting a single white coneflower plant in a garden
  1. Before cutting, make sure your pruning shears are clean and sterile. Have a container of lukewarm water on hand for the stems.
  2. Remove the stem using a diagonal cut, leaving any unopened buds on the plant.
  3. Remove any leaves remaining on the stem.
  4. Place each stem into the water container, ready to transfer into your vase later.
  5. Fill a clean vase with lukewarm water and put the stems in. Place the vase somewhere cool, away from direct sunlight.
  6. Add some flower food to prolong the blooms.
  7. Follow the same process later in the season if you’re harvesting the seed heads.

How Long Will Cut Coneflowers Last For?

Fresh-cut coneflower flower stems will last four to seven days in cool conditions away from direct sunlight. Seed head stems will last longer – anywhere between 10 and 14 days. Always use lukewarm water in the vase and change it regularly to keep your stems hydrated.

Tips For Extending the Life of Cut Coneflowers

Soft pink coneflowers in bloom on a sunny day

There are a few tips you can use to get the most out of your cut coneflowers. Let’s take a closer look at a few tried-and-tested methods:

Regularly Change the Water

Cut coneflower flower heads and seed heads should be placed in a vase of lukewarm water. Change this water regularly for fresh, lukewarm water every few days. Each time you refill the vase, trim the base of the stem down slightly using fresh diagonal cuts.

You can also add flower food or floral preservatives to the water each time you refill the vase. This can help eke out more time to enjoy your coneflower stems.

For more tips on how to prolong the life of freshly-cut flowers, check out our fresh cut flower care guide.

Keep Your Vase Out of the Sunlight

Placing your vase in the right place helps prevent your freshly-cut coneflower stems from dying off too quickly. Choose a spot that’s fairly cool and has stable temperatures. Make sure the vase is kept out of direct sunlight as well.

Alum Powder

Potassium aluminum sulfate, also known as alum powder, prolongs the life of your freshly-cut coneflower blooms. Alum powder is traditionally used when pickling vegetables because it helps keep them crisp and fresh. In addition, alum powder consists of potassium aluminum sulfate crystals, which you can usually find near pickling spices in a supermarket.

Alum powder helps preserve cut flowers by stimulating the stem to absorb more water. When refilling the vase, use alum powder each time you recut your coneflower stem. Before placing the stem back into the water, dip the base of the stem into some alum powder.

Boiling Water Treatment

A quick bath in boiling water can help your cut coneflower blooms last longer. Boiling water kills any bacteria building up on the stem or in the vase, allowing the stem to stay hydrated. When you recut the stem during water changes, place it into a couple of inches of boiling water. After the water has cooled, the stem will stay hydrated more easily.

How Do You Preserve or Dry Cut Coneflowers?

Dried coneflowers on a wooden table

Coneflowers don’t just make great fresh-cut flowers, they also perform well as dried flowers. Both coneflower flower heads and seed heads can be dried and used in vase displays. Seed heads can be left to die and dry naturally on the plant, then snipped off and used immediately.

If you want to dry them, Echinacea flower heads can be harvested anytime during the flowering season. Choose stems with flowers that are fully open for the best results. The flower heads should be fully dry within one or two days and will last for up to six months.

Let’s take a look at how to preserve and dry cut coneflowers:

  1. Using sterile pruning shears, cut your chosen stem. Make sure to leave any unopened or emerging flower buds on the plant.
  2. Lightly rinse the stems to remove dirt and other contaminants, especially from the petals.
  3. Using pegs or hooks, hang your coneflower stems upside down in a cool, dry location. Place a container or sheet underneath to catch any petals that fall off.
  4. Alternatively, spread your Echinacea stems out on a tray and place them outside in a sunny, sheltered location. Depending on your climate, it may take up to five or six days to dry the stems.
  5. Once your stems are dry, you can use them in dried flower arrangements as whole stems. You could also cut the dried stem up into pieces and use them to make echinacea tea and other products.

Wrapping Up

Not only do coneflowers flower for a long time, but you can also use them as cut flowers. Always use clean, sterile pruning shears to harvest Echinacea flower heads or seed heads. Once you’ve cut the stems, remove any remaining leaves and place the stems in a clean vase of lukewarm water. Freshly-cut coneflower stems can last for up to a week and can also be dried.

Contributing Editor | | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

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