Q: black petals on purple coneflower?

Hello everyone:
I have a patch of purple coneflower I started two years ago from seed. It has some tall, white valerian in the middle and is next to a very quiet road. The plants flowered great this year, but the petals are turning black at a pretty constant rate. I only get a day or two of unblemished blooms before the petals go. The leaves are untouched. I live in SW Ohio, zone 5, and it's been a somewhat dry summer, and I haven't deep watered the bed but once or twice.
Is this a disease? Something I'm missing? A sign that the soil in that area is terrible? What could be the problem? And what might I do?
Thanks,
Laurel
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Though great xeriscape plants they have their limits & since you say you've been having droughty weather & not watering the echinaceas but twice all summer, then the blossoms are getting cooked, browning first at the petal tips then the whole flower prematurely blackens. If it were the leaves I'd think you had blackspot disease which can spread & blacken an entire leaf, but since you say it is just the petals, then they're drought-stressed & need to be irrigated more regularly to look their best through the height of summer. Also, if they have blazing hot sun both morning & afternoon, they may want something taller planted nearby to give them shade for the morning hours, as even heat-hardies can max out their sun tolerances at about six hours, after which they're cooked.
-paghat the ratgirl
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wrote:

It
black
blooms
zone 5,

but
Laurel, Paggers tells it right. You can water more, you can mulch more and you can cut the flowers to enjoy in-doors in water, but drought and heat with little shade aren't going to allow a great show in the flower bed.
The upside is, if you cut flower stems for indoor enjoyment now, you'll keep flower stems coming thru the cooler, shorter, days of later August and September. These will still go to seed and you'll get your seed heads for replanting or fall arrangements.
Sue Western Maine
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Thanks to Paghat & Sue, for answers.
The bed is actually shaded in the AM, and gets dappled afternoon sun and full sun in the late afternoon. The drawback? It's out of reach of my current hose configuration, and thus misses out on the extra watering. :-( I will get another hose hooked up and go clip them....actually, we've had a couple of days of thunderstorms & rain, so maybe a good deadheading will get me more flowers now that it's cool & moist.
Thanks again.
laurel
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