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Is there any way to tell what kind of echinacea seeds I have?

Posted by quilt_mommy 5/6 Northeast Ohio (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 17, 10 at 10:29

Last fall I could kick myself for not saving seeds, so I didn't go to any lengths to keep track of what I planted where. I just figured I'd find out next summer what's what when everything blooms again. Well now we're having a little winter warm up and I'm discovering seed pods all over the garden and snagging them up while I'm able. I was gifted several types of echinacea last year and now I'm not sure which one these seed heads are from! One I know for sure one of them is echinacea "white swan" but the other could be one of the pink varieties or a yellow variety that my MIL picked up for me at a plant sale. I planted two right next to each other too, and I didn't know until recently that they can cross pollinate when planted so closely. So I have two questions!

#1 - is there any way at all to tell the difference between the two seed heads as I have no idea which one is which?

#2 - should the seeds be true to the parent if they were planted both within months of each other last season or would have cross pollination already occurred and who knows what kind of echinacea plant these will grow? I still don't know much about all of this! :)

Thank you so much for any help anyone can offer! Here are a couple pictures:

This is the one I think may be "white swan" as it had the most flowers on it when I purchased it and it had the most seed heads today...
Echinacea Seed Head 2009

Here is the other, there are only two and this one is the most together even though severed...
Echinacea Seed Head 2009

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is there any way to tell what kind of echinacea seeds I have?

  • Posted by remy 6WNY (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 17, 10 at 19:40

You really can't tell the difference between two E. purpurea varieties. If you had another species of echinacea, you might be able to. But being you remembered more flowers on White Swan, it would be a good guess the first one is it.
If the plants were blooming at the same time, cross pollination would of probably occurred. If they were blooming before you got them, then who knows.
White Swan will come true from seed, but only when grown in isolation. Otherwise the seedlings will be pink being that white is recessive.
Hope that helps,

RE: Is there any way to tell what kind of echinacea seeds I have?

Thank you Remy - I do really appreciate your answer! It is very helpful. The second head didn't have a darn seed on it, but I think they were blooming at the same time and now I'm worried that cross pollination occurred. ARGH! I really wanted to grow more of those! Do you think that if I moved it to an isolated part of the garden the seeds I collect next fall would be white?

RE: Is there any way to tell what kind of echinacea seeds I have?

  • Posted by remy 6WNY (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 18, 10 at 9:08

I do not know the distance for bettering your chances, but most insect pollinated plants(especially those that are loved by the insects like echinacea) need at least 1/4 mile to 1/2 to be pure. So for the normal home gardener it is difficult. Having no neighbors growing them helps, but echinacea is popular right now. If you've got no close neighbors, the other thing that would help besides distance is buildings in the way and a lot of other flowers in bloom along the way. So not a straight clear path from one planting to the other. It doesn't guarantee purity, but at least you would have a chance of some true seedlings.
When starting White Swan from seed, it is easy to tell of they will be white. If they show red/pink in the emerging stems, they have crossed, and the flowers will be some shade of pink.

RE: Is there any way to tell what kind of echinacea seeds I have?

remy - thank you so very much!!! That is extremely helpful to me. I will definitely be watching to see what color stems they grow...

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