Echinacea loses its properties very quickly when dried. When mine are flowering, I just eat a few petals and leaves every few days, fresh right off the plant. You can also pick the newly opening flowers and leaves and tincture them fresh (better than drying). The roots are the most potent, but you need to wait til they are a few years old and sizable enough to harvest. I generally wait to harvest roots until the first full moon after the first frost in the fall. The frost and cold weather force the plants' energy back into the ground, so the root is even more potent then. It is best to immediately tincture up the roots with the rest of the plant. If you do want to dry it all, be sure to use it within a few months---the freshness really makes the difference!