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Echinacea (Coneflower)

Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea paradoxa, Echinacea tennesseensis

Coneflower, Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea, Cone Flower, Cone Flowers, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea paradoxa, Echinacea tennesseensis

Tough as nails, Echinacea, commonly known as Coneflower, is a wonderful addition to the landscape with its brightly colored blossoms to be enjoyed over a long flowering season. Simple to grow, mostly trouble-free, and thriving on neglect, Echinacea is a reliable performer that is tolerant to almost everything.

Loved by butterflies, birds, and bees, Coneflowers have won the hearts and minds of many gardeners and are increasingly in vogue as garden perennials, cut flowers, or landscape plants.

What is Echinacea (Coneflower)?

Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, is a genus of flowering plants in the daisy family (Asteraceae), along with daisies, sunflowers, and asters. The genus includes nine species of herbaceous perennials.

Native: Echinacea is a truly American plant, originally found in the central and eastern parts of the country and used by native Americans for its medicinal properties. Its bright, large flowers made a successful transition to backyard gardens.

Growth Habit: Coneflower plants typically grow to a height of 2-4 feet (60-120 cm) and have a clumping growth habit. The leaves are usually lance-shaped or ovate.

Flowers: Echinacea flowers are large and daisy-like, with a distinctive, spiky center that resembles a cone or hedgehog. The flowers come in a range of colors, including shades of purple, pink, white, and yellow, and can have single or double petals. As the flowers age and dry, they form a cone-shaped seed head that persists into the winter, providing food for birds and interest to the garden.

Blooming Season: Echinaceas are herbaceous perennials with a fairly long blooming season extending from late spring to late summer and, for some, even until frost.

Hardiness: Most Echinacea plants are hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

Garden Uses: Echinacea flowers are perfect choices for beds and borders, naturalized areas, meadows, prairies, and wildflower gardens. They also make excellent cut or dried flowers. A wonderful addition to garden bouquets, they may last up to 2 weeks in a vase! After the petals have fallen, the cones are very ornamental in dried arrangements.

Medicinal properties: Echinacea flowers are not only beautiful but also have traditional medicinal uses and can be used in teas, tinctures, and other herbal remedies. Echinacea is commonly used today as an herbal remedy to boost the immune system and treat colds and flu. It is also used in cosmetic products for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Pollinator attraction: If you’re looking to attract pollinators and butterflies to your garden, Echinacea is an excellent choice. The Coneflower’s nectar is irresistible to butterflies, creating a beautiful summer display. Birds also love the spiny, cone-shaped flower heads and will feast on their seeds. By allowing some stems to set seeds and spreading them in the fall, your Echinacea will reseed, producing new blossoms the following season.

Drought tolerance: Echinacea is a hardy perennial that is tolerant of drought once established. This makes it a good choice for gardens in areas with limited water resources.

Deer and rabbit resistance: Echinacea is generally not favored by deer and rabbits, making it a good choice for gardens in areas with high populations of these animals.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Echinacea
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil, Clay Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Echinacea ‘Marmalade’ (Coneflower)
Echinacea ‘Secret Pride’ (Coneflower)
Echinacea ‘Southern Belle’ (Coneflower)

What are Echinacea Health Benefits?

Echinacea has several potential health benefits, including:

  • Boosting the immune system: Echinacea is commonly used to support the immune system and may help reduce the duration and severity of colds, flu, and other infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Echinacea has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Pain relief: Echinacea may have pain-relieving properties and has been used to alleviate headaches, toothaches, and other types of pain.
  • Skin health: Echinacea may help promote healthy skin and has been used topically to treat acne, eczema, and other skin conditions.
  • Anti-anxiety: Echinacea may have anti-anxiety effects and has been used to help promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Wound healing: Echinacea has been found to have wound-healing properties and may help speed up the healing process for cuts, burns, and other types of wounds.

Overall, Echinacea is a natural and versatile plant that may offer a range of health benefits. As with any herbal remedy, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before using Echinacea, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Main Coneflower Species

  • Echinacea angustifolia: Also known as narrow-leaved coneflower, this species is native to the eastern United States. It typically grows to a height of 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) and has narrow leaves and pink-purple flowers. It blooms from early to mid-summer.
  • Echinacea pallida: Also known as pale purple coneflower, this species is native to the southeastern and central United States. It typically grows to a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) and has pale purple flowers and coarse leaves. It blooms from late spring to mid-summer.
  • Echinacea paradoxa: Also known as yellow coneflower, this species is primarily native to the central United States. It typically grows to a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) and has yellow flowers and narrow leaves. It blooms from early summer to early fall.
  • Echinacea purpurea: Also known as purple coneflower, this species is native to the eastern United States. It typically grows to a height of 2-5 feet (60-150 cm) and has pink-purple flowers and coarse leaves. It blooms from spring to late summer.
  • Echinacea tennesseensis: Also known as Tennessee coneflower, this species is native to the southeastern United States. It typically grows to a height of 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) and has pink-purple flowers and narrow leaves. It blooms from early to late summer.

The most commonly cultivated species for medicinal and ornamental purposes are Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia.

Echinacea ‘Colorburst Orange’ (Coneflower)
Echinacea Fiery Meadow Mama (Coneflower)
Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower)

Garden Design with Coneflowers

Echinacea, or coneflowers, are a great addition to any garden design, thanks to their vibrant blooms, easy care, and versatility. Here are some ideas for incorporating Echinacea into your garden design:

  • Create a mass planting: Plant a large group of Echinacea together to create a bold and colorful statement in your garden. Use a mix of colors and varieties for added interest.
  • Mix with other perennials: Combine Echinacea with other sun-loving perennials to create a layered and textured garden design. Try pairing it with other native plants, like black-eyed Susans, butterfly weed, and salvias.
  • Use as a focal point: Use Echinacea as a focal point in your garden design by planting it in a prominent location or using it as a backdrop for other plants.
  • Plant in containers: Echinacea can be grown in containers, making it a great choice for smaller gardens or for adding color to patios and balconies.
  • Add to a wildflower meadow: Echinacea is a great addition to a wildflower meadow or prairie-style garden, where it can be combined with other native wildflowers for a low-maintenance and beautiful landscape.

No matter how you choose to incorporate Echinacea into your garden design, it is sure to add color, beauty, and natural health benefits to your outdoor space.

Echinacea Companion Plants

Echinacea can be paired with a variety of companion plants to create a beautiful and balanced garden. Here are some ideas for companion plants that pair well with Echinacea:

  • Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia): These sun-loving plants have similar growing requirements to Echinacea and their yellow and black flowers provide a nice contrast to the purple and pink hues of Echinacea.
  • Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): This perennial plant has tall, airy stems that complement the upright growth habit of Echinacea. Its silver foliage and blue-purple flowers provide a nice contrast to Echinacea’s colorful blooms.
  • Salvia: These sun-loving perennials come in a range of colors and heights and complement the texture and color of Echinacea.
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis): These plants have a similar clumping growth habit to Echinacea, and their bright orange, yellow, and red flowers provide a striking contrast to Echinacea’s purples and pinks.
  • Grasses: Ornamental grasses, like miscanthus and calamagrostis, provide a nice textural contrast to Echinacea’s flowers and foliage. They also add movement and interest to the garden.
  • Liatris (Blazing Star): This tall, upright perennial plant has spikes of purple flowers that complement Echinacea’s blooms. It also attracts butterflies and other pollinators to the garden.

By pairing Echinacea with these and other companion plants, you can create a beautiful and harmonious garden that is both visually appealing and beneficial to pollinators.

Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaf Coneflower)
Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow Coneflower)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea Growing Tips

Here are some tips for growing Echinacea successfully:

  • Choose the right location: Echinacea prefers full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Make sure to choose a location that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day, and avoid planting in areas with heavy, poorly draining soil.
  • Plant at the right time: Echinacea can be planted in the spring or fall. If planting in the spring, wait until the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost has passed. If planting in the fall, make sure to plant at least six weeks before the first frost.
  • Water correctly: Echinacea is drought-tolerant once established but requires regular watering during the first growing season to help it establish roots. Water deeply once a week or more often during hot, dry weather.
  • Fertilize sparingly: Echinacea does not require heavy fertilization and can actually perform better in soil that is not too rich. A light application of balanced fertilizer in the spring can help promote healthy growth.
  • Deadhead regularly: Deadheading spent blooms regularly can help promote continued blooming throughout the growing season and prevent self-seeding.
  • Divide every few years: Echinacea can become crowded and stop blooming well after a few years. Dividing the clumps every three to four years can help rejuvenate the plants and promote better blooming.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your Echinacea plants thrive and provide you with years of beautiful blooms and natural health benefits.

Echinacea ‘Aloha’ (Coneflower)
Echinacea purpurea ‘Green Twister’ (Coneflower)
Echinacea purpurea ‘Meringue’ (Coneflower)

Pests and Diseases

Echinacea is generally a hardy and disease-resistant plant, but it can be susceptible to a few pests and diseases. Here are some common pests and diseases that can affect Echinacea:

  • Powdery mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white or gray powder on the leaves and stems of the plant. It can be prevented by providing good air circulation, avoiding overhead watering, and planting Echinacea in a location with full sun to partial shade.
  • Leaf spot: This fungal disease appears as small, circular spots on the leaves of the plant. It can be prevented by avoiding overhead watering and removing any infected leaves.
  • Root rot: This fungal disease can occur in poorly draining soil or if the plant is overwatered. It can be prevented by ensuring the soil is well-draining and not allowing the plant to sit in standing water.
  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can be found on the stems and leaves of the plant. They can be removed with a strong stream of water or treated with insecticidal soap or a neem oil solution.
  • Spider mites: These tiny insects can cause leaves to appear stippled or discolored. They can be removed with a strong stream of water or treated with insecticidal soap.
  • Japanese beetles: These beetles can feed on the leaves and flowers of the plant, causing significant damage. They can be removed by hand or treated with insecticides.

By monitoring your Echinacea plants regularly and taking steps to prevent and treat any pest or disease problems, you can ensure that they remain healthy and vibrant in your garden.

Compare all Echinacea varieties

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of Echinacea in the garden?

Benefits of Echinacea in the garden: Colorful blooms, pollinator attractor, natural remedies, low maintenance, and easy to grow.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Echinacea?

Advantages of Echinacea: Drought tolerant, long blooming season, and attracts pollinators.

Disadvantages of Echinacea: Self-seeding. Echinacea can be prone to self-seeding, which can lead to overcrowding in the garden.

Recommended Companion Plants

Liatris spicata (Blazing Star)
Achillea (Yarrow)
Agastache (Hyssop)
Echinops (Globe Thistle)
Helenium (Sneezeweed)
Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed Susan)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Salvia (Sage)

Garden Examples

A Luminous Perennial Planting Idea with Echinacea pallida and Agastache
A Luminous Perennial Planting Idea with Echinacea pallida and Veronicastrum
A Soft Border Idea with Grasses, Echinacea and Monarda
A Prairie Style Garden Idea with Echinacea, Veronicastrum and Sedum
A Pretty Prairie Planting Idea with Echinacea pallida, Eryngium and Agastache
A Prairie Planting Idea with Echinacea, Penstemon and Eryngium
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A2, A3
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Echinacea
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 2' - 4'
(60cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil, Clay Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
Compare All Echinacea (Coneflower)
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Echinacea (Coneflower)

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