When to harvest Echinacea

For many of our experiments we want to harvest Echinacea heads when they are as ripe as possible, but before any achenes have dropped.

The standard harvest indicators are as follows:

  1. Phyllaries (involucral bracts) are brown
  2. Bracts that subtend each disc floret are brown and sharp
  3. Flower stalk (peduncle) is brown (not purple)
  4. 1st (uppermost) cauline lf is brown (note: 1st lf may be close to hd!)

Once harvest indicators 1 – 4 are positive, or if a head has loose achenes or is in some way deformed and you think achenes may be lost before the next harvest, harvest the hd! Make sure to look for loose achenes at the top of every hd with brown bracts.

Harvest a head by cutting it off and placing it carefully into a labeled bag. When cutting the hd off, hold the head firmly in one hand and cut the peduncle with the pruners 3-5 cm under the hd. You don’t need to open the bag all the way and the hd doesn’t need to go all the way to the bottom of the bag.

That’s our standard harvest protocol! Everything’s flowering so late this year, we won’t be harvesting for a while, but I wanted to post this while I was thinking about it.


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