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Coneflower

Echinacea

This North American native is loved by both people and pollinators. Its colorful blooms last summer to fall and make these plants look great in so many settings! Purple coneflowers have grown in popularity, which has led to more options; from bright single flowers to double blooms, you’d be hard-pressed to not find a coneflower to your liking. Every garden needs at least one coneflower!

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Light:

Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

1-2 feet wide

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

3-9

Propagation

Colorful Coneflowers

What began as a simple purple blossom has grown into a multitude of choices. Coneflowers now come in a large variety of colors, including pink, white, orange, yellow, green—almost any color you can imagine, except blue! Not only have the color options expanded, but there are many forms of blooms available as well. Whether it's the traditional shuttlecock-type or fancy double blooms with layers of petals, there's bound to be something that catches your eye.

See top coneflower selections.

Coneflower Care Must-Knows

This garden staple serves as a natural cold remedy Purple coneflower has long been sought for its cold-fighting properties, especially in teas. All parts of the plant are proven to have immune-boosting effects, along with a number of other beneficial attributes.

Purple coneflowers are native to grass prairies so need well-drained soils. These are tough and rugged plants used to competition from neighboring plants. Purple coneflower won't tolerate anything less than full sun. If they are planted in too much shade, plants tend to get floppy and are more susceptible to foliar diseases such as powdery mildew. Coneflowers will also attract birds and other wildlife to your garden.

See more low-maintenance perennials for the Mountain West.

Once plants have finished blooming, pinch off spent blooms to encourage a second round of flowers. As fall sets in, leave a few blossoms on the plant, because these make great food for small birds. Goldfinches love sitting atop spent blooms and picking away at the tasty seeds. If left on the plant, coneflowers may reseed. Just know that any seedlings will be different from the parent, especially in the fancier varieties.

An issue to be addressed with coneflowers—and other plants in aster family—is aster yellows. Aster yellows is a plant virus carried by thrips, which feed on pollen and carry the virus plant to plant. Symptoms are most visible on new buds and open flowers show erratic, contorted growth. If you see this on your plant, there is no cure except to dig up the plant and properly dispose of it before the disease spreads.

Innovations

There have been many exciting innovations in the world of purple coneflowers. Breeders in the late 90s and early 2000s began crossing the yellow species, Echinacea paradoxa, with the common purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea.

This resulted in colors never before seen in coneflowers. From there, breeding has expanded the realm of coneflowers to include different flower forms and more colors than previously thought possible. Breeders have even begun making crosses between coneflowers and black-eyed Susans to create a cross called Echibeckia.

Some of the recent innovations include shorter, more durable plants—especially ones that easily and uniformly grow from seed. This has helped make a more consistent production of coneflower. Because there are more varieties that bloom during the first year from seed, there's no need to overwinter plants.

More Varieties of Coneflower

'Bravado' Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea 'Bravado' is a robust plant that grows to 4 feet tall. It bears loads of 4- to 5-inch-wide blooms that range in color from light pink to magenta rose. Petals stand out for maximum display. Zones 3-9

'Fragrant Angel' Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea 'Fragrant Angel' has 5-inch-wide white daisies with an orange center cone. It grows 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

'Green Envy' Coneflower

Echinacea 'Green Envy' offers mauve-purple petals tipped in lime green. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Harvest Moon Coneflower

Echinacea 'Matthew Saul' blooms in bright orangey-yellow with a golden-orange cone. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

'Magnus' Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' blooms in bright rose with a brownish-red cone and petals that stand out rather than droop. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Mango Meadowbrite Coneflower

Echinacea 'CBG Cone 3' offers peachy-yellow flowers with a slightly darker orange stem. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Orange Meadowbrite Coneflower

Echinacea 'Art's Pride' is also sold as Art's Pride coneflower. It blooms in bright orange with dark cones and grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 3-9

Pale Purple Coneflower

Echinacea pallida is perfectly at home in a naturalized meadow and has pale pink straplike petals and a skyrocket central cone. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 4-8

Pixie Meadowbrite Coneflower

Echinacea 'CBG Cone 2' has flat, pink, dark-eyed daisies on 18-inch-tall plants. It grows 2 feet tall wide. Zones 3-9

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea offers mauve-purple flowers all summer on a 5-foot-tall, 2-foot-wide plant. Zones 3-9

'Tiki Torch' Coneflower

Echinacea 'Tiki Torch' is a remarkable selection with bright orange fragrant flowers in summer and autumn. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 4-9

plant Coneflower With:

Lamb's-ears
Lamb's-ears is a top pick for a groundcover in a hot, baked spot. Its silver felted foliage quickly forms a dense, delightful mat. It also contrasts nicely with other foliage and most flowers. Depending on the type and your growing conditions, it may self-sow freely to the point of becoming a bother. In hot humid climates, lamb's-ears may "melt down" in summer, becoming brown and limp. A different but related plant, big betony is worth growing for its shade tolerance, dark green crumpled leaves, and bright purple spikes of whorled 1-inch flowers in late spring. Wood betony is similar but not as shade-tolerant.
Globe thistle
Globe thistle is one of the most elegantly colored plants around. It has fantastical large blue balls of steel blue flowers in midsummer, which would be enough. But making it even more lovely are its large coarse grayish-green leaves, which set off the flower beautifully. If you can bear to separate them from the foliage, globe thistle makes a great cut flower, lasting for weeks in the vase. It also dries well. It's bothered by few pests or diseases. If it likes its conditions, it will reseed fairly readily. If you want to prevent this, deadhead flowers shortly after they fade.
Russian sage
With its tall wispy wands of lavender or blue flowers and silvery foliage, Russian sage is an important player in summer and fall gardens. It shows off well against most flowers and provides an elegant look to flower borders. The aromatic leaves are oblong and deeply cut along the edges. Foot-long panicles of flowers bloom for many weeks. Excellent drainage and full sun are ideal, although very light shade is tolerated. Plant close to avoid staking because the tall plants tend to flop.

Attract Birds to Your Backyard

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