Last Updated On: May 22nd, 2020
Learn all about Coneflowers (Echinacea) in this gardener's guide of these beautiful perennials, including plant care, companion plants, medicinal uses, and more.
These magical perennials have it all. They are drought-resistant, cold-resistant, deer-resistant, and they attract tons of pollinators. Can you ask for a better summer or fall-blooming plant?
Also known as Echinacea, their purple, pink, orange, or red hues will jazz up your garden with their cone-shaped flowers. In this coneflower plant profile, you'll learn about the unique characteristics of this plant as well as basic plant care and companion plants for your landscape.
If you're already lucky enough to have these perennials in your garden but you are unsure how to best care for them, this post will teach you the skills you'll need. Or, if you are new to gardening and want to add these to your landscape but you're scared you might kill them with your black thumb, don't worry. This post will give you the confidence you need to grow and care for them with our coneflower plant profile table and free printable guide.
No matter what you're gardening level is, by the end of this post you'll learn:
- Coneflower care
- Echinacea uses
- Coneflower companion plants
- Planting steps (either seeds or live plants)
If you aren't sure where to start learning about gardening, go to our Start Here page where you can get find beginning gardener topics by listening, watching, and reading.
Also, we've gathered even more resources for you including:
- Coneflowers for sale (plus plant care supplies and books). You have to check out these beautiful varieties for sale, both live plants ready to plant now and seeds!!
- Coneflower plant care videos (for you visual learners)
Let's get started on your journey to better coneflower plant care and understanding!
Oh, by the way, if you need to start deadheading your coneflowers, you can snip the heads once each flower has withered using the proper tools. A pair of really good pruning shears is what you need.
The pruning shears we are recommending are best for any plant material that measures up to an inch in diameter and the ones we've been using for years! We love them and think they'd be perfect for your flower garden!
Coneflowers: Why You Should Plant Them
In case you couldn't tell, we're really excited to teach you about coneflowers! And if you didn't already have a soft spot in your heart for coneflowers, you will soon! They are so versatile, useful, and beautiful.
In addition to their drought-tolerance (which is awesome in itself), the sheer variety of coneflower colors and shapes makes this flower a summer (and early fall) favorite of ours.
You may only be familiar with the most famous of all coneflowers, the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), but did you know this plant has been bred to grow in colors such as yellow, white, orange, red, and pink? They are gorgeous!
These hardy perennials are really easy to maintain after they're established meaning after they have been planted for at least one year so their roots can grow and strengthen.
We also love coneflowers because they are perfect for perennial flower borders, cottage gardens, cutting gardens, or containers. These beautiful plant will grace your garden year after year with their vibrant, daisy-shaped flowers.
Plus, they make excellent, long-lasting cut flowers and they're deer-resistant!
Lastly, coneflowers will attract a host of different pollinators, including butterflies, bees, and birds, to your garden. With their broad, daisy-like shape and bright color, pollinators cannot resist a visit.
As you can see, this plant is a perfect addition to any type of garden you have for so many reasons!
And we guarantee you will not only fall in love with them but learn to care for them properly after some practice and plant care information.
By the way, for a quick podcast related to this plant, check out our Longest-Blooming Perennials for Your Summer Garden.
Echinacea Plants: History and Uses
As you begin your journey to understand more about coneflowers, a good place to start is to first learn about their large family group, their history, and their uses. Read on below for more!
Coneflowers, or Echinacea, are in the massive Asteraceae family. Also known as the daisy family, this family group has more than 20,000 species of flowering plants throughout the world!
The daisy family features some of the most popular flowers in the world including quite a few you have probably heard of before. A quick fun fact is a unique characteristic every member of this family shares. The flowers in this family group are actually made up of two types of flowers, not just one. Each flower you see is composed of one or more rows of "Ray" flowers on the perimeter/edge and the "Disk" flowers in the center. Think of a typical daisy, like a Shasta daisy, they have the white petals (the "rays") and the yellow centers are actually another flower (the "discs"). Interesting, huh?
Daisy family members are valued for a range of uses, including:
- Cut flowers
- Ornamental gardens
- Cooking oils
- Herbal teas
- Other medicinal uses
Other members of the large Asteraceae family include Shasta daisies, Sunflowers, Blanket flowers, Zinnias, asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, and Lettuce to name a few (of the many)!
Coneflowers are native to North American prairies, grasslands, and open wooded areas. Specifically, they are native to central and eastern North America. They have a long, historical significance to Native American culture mainly as an herbal medicine and remedy that has been used for centuries.
Apparently, samples of Echinacea were found in archeological digs of Lakota Sioux village sites dating from around the 1600s.
Their uses consisted of wounds, burns, inflammations of the gums, toothache and sore throats, colds, coughs, mumps, measles, and gonorrhea.
The botanical name "Echinacea" comes from the Latin word "echinos" which means hedgehog, or sea urchin. This name refers to the spiny cone of the flower's head. Take a look at the picture of the white coneflower and find the spiny-looking center of the flower or the "cone". Makes sense, right? By the way, isn't that white coneflower gorgeous?
Coneflowers officially got noticed after English explorers sent coneflower seeds back to England in 1699 after first "discovering" them in eastern North America, specifically purple coneflowers. Eventually, their popularity increased in English gardens by the 1800s.
By the beginning to middle of the 20th century, Echinacea's popularity ebbed and flowed according to the value of its medicinal properties.
In the United States, Echinacea purpurea was used by early settlers as an aid in nearly every kind of sickness you can think of.
Today, coneflowers are still used as an herbal remedy and you can find them grown for both their medicinal as well as ornamental value in all types of gardens.
As we stated in the history section above, Echinacea has been used for centuries in North America by Native Americans and early settlers for its medicinal properties.
They used the plant's roots, the seeds, and other parts of the plants for different reasons.
Examples of medicinal uses include:
- Insect bites
- Throat infections
- Stomach cramps
- Snake bites
- Soothing headaches
- Digestive issues
It should be mentioned that this list of uses does not just apply to humans. Horses and other animals were treated with Echinacea if they were perceived to be in medical distress.
But, that doesn't mean you can run out and feed coneflowers to your dog. Don't do that. Check with your vet first.
P.S. We found this indoor herb growing kit (which includes Echinacea) and thought you might like it.
Grow your own fresh medicinal and tea herbs indoors year-round... [More]
Coneflower Free Plant Profile!
Subscribe to our Spoken Garden community and receive your FREE Coneflower Plant Profile!
Included in the plant profile: General plant info, maintenance tips, companion plants, a planning guide, and more!
Now that you've learned a bit of background information about this amazing perennial, it's time to present you with an overall guide to coneflower plant care to get you started with the basics.
Then, after you read the table below, keep scrolling to learn more about specific seed planting steps, deadheading tips, and companion plants.
But first, collect your free plant guide to take with you!
|Botanical/Scientific Name||Echinacea purpurea, E. purpurea alba, E. pallida, E. hybrids, E. tennesseensis|
|Cultivars||'Orange Meadowbrite', 'Mango Meadowbrite', 'Pixie Meadowbrite', 'Sunrise', 'Sunset', 'Sundown', 'Doubledecker', 'Doppelganger', 'Fragrant Angel', 'Kim's Knee High', 'Magnus', 'Rubinstern', 'White Lustre', 'White Swan', and 'Rocky Top'.|
|Zones||USDA - hardy to zones 4 to 9; Sunset - mostly grows in zones A2, A3, and 1 to 24.|
|General Information||In the Asteraceae (old Compositae) Family. Is a pollinator attractor.
Grows slowly in natural and garden environments, and from a rhizomatous root, a type of bulb. It self-sows so it will spread in your garden naturally. Cuttings can be taken from the root to then plant elsewhere in your garden. Flowers can be lightly fragrant. Use in bed borders, containers and in large clumps in open areas of gardens and landscapes.
|Native Environment||Native to central and eastern North America.|
|Water Needs||Needs moderate to regular watering.|
|Mature Height/Width||Can grow between 1.5 to 3 feet high and 1.5 feet wide. Flowers can grow up to 4 inches wide.|
|Bloom Time||During summer months into the first frost of fall.|
|Flower Colors||Purple, pink, yellow, red, orange, and white with mostly brown centers.|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Growth Habit||Small spreading clumps of perennials with upward growth. Grow slowly and spread by seeds or root cuttings.|
|Soil Needs||Regular, well-draining soil.|
|Fertilize||A good dose of a balanced organic fertilizer every month wouldn't hurt but otherwise no fertilizing needed.|
|Plant Spacing||Plant on 1-foot centers so plants grow out into adjacent plants. This also provides good coverage for weed control. If weeds aren't an issue then 1.5 foot or more centers is fine.|
|Suggested Companion Plants||Well-suited amongst other daisy-family (Asteraceae) plants, specifically Shasta Daisy, Calendula, Sunflower, Aster, and other plants like Fountain Grass, Phlox, Stonecrop, Blazing Star Liatris, and others.|
|Maintenance Level||Low to minimal maintenance. Treat as a herbaceous or semi-herbaceous perennial. Drought-tolerant once established after a couple seasons. Can deadhead to prolong flower blooming. Surround plants with a layer of mulch to help retain moisture.
|Pest Susceptibility||Susceptible to Aphids, Japanese Beetles, Mites, and Sunflower Moths.|
|Poisonous to Pets?||According to wagwalking.com, this plant isn't severely toxic to pets, but if ingested in mass quantities, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy, abdominal pain, and vocal pain.|
|Edible for Humans?||Different species are used for medicinal purposes, but nothing in the literature suggests coneflowers, in general, should be consumed by themselves. If consumed in enough quantity, they might cause nausea, vomiting, and other possible reactions.|
|Fun (or historical) Facts||- Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia, and E. pallida, are used for medicinal purposes such as soothing headaches, digestive issues, and sunburns.
- The name "Echinacea" comes from the Latin word "echinos" which meaning hedgehog or sea urchin which refers to the spiny cone of the flower's head.
- Make great, long-lasting cut flowers.
- Native to North American prairies, grasslands, and open wooded areas.
- Wild coneflowers are actually endangered in many places.
- There are many new coneflower varieties that breeders have introduced beyond the popular purple coneflower.
Let's dig in deeper into coneflower plant care (see what we did there?)!
In addition to our overall plant profile guide and the free plant sheet above, now we want to teach you more in-depth plant care information.
First, we'll teach you how to plant coneflowers using either seeds or live plants. Then, we'll give you deadheading tips so you can care for your coneflower plants at the end of the growing season in the fall.
In addition, we'll provide a list of companion plants for you to consider that have similar care requirements to that of coneflowers.
Alright, let's continue along your journey to better plant care!
First of all, not all seeds are created equal. Our seed planting steps below are a guide for planting most seeds in general.
Also, keep in mind that it will take your new coneflowers at least one year before they are established enough to be considered drought-tolerant. In the meantime, they need plenty of water while they mature.
In addition, if starting your seeds early indoors, wait until spring to transplant the seedlings.
Read the seed packet label and follow their directions.
Choose an area according to the plant's sunlight needs and water the soil first before planting.
Dig a trench at the recommended depth if wanting a row or dig individual holes if wanting more of a pattern or grouping.
Place your seeds by planting one at a time according to the recommended spacing.
Lightly cover the seeds with the soil. According to the packet, firm down the soil as needed.
Water, water, water!
Wait for germination and then thin according to the packet directions for each seed.
Coneflower Live Plants Planting Tips
If planting live coneflower plants, be mindful of plant spacing.
In general, plant the plants on 1 to 1.5-foot centers so the plants grow into adjacent plants to give good coverage for weed control.
If weeds aren't an issue then 1.5 to 2-foot or more centers is fine.
Coneflowers have lots of friends and they like to be social.
Being a native plant from the central and western United States, this plant has a great ability to adapt to different climates and can be lower maintenance than most other landscape plants. Therefore, coneflowers need to be planted next to other full sun, drought-tolerant companions.
Coneflowers and most of the companion plants listed below will add color and a continuous supply of beneficial food sources to your landscape for years to come. Meaning, the pollinators love them, especially butterflies. They will flock to your garden which is a HUGE bonus.
You really cannot go wrong with a companion for your coneflowers. It simply boils down to your individual preference and color choice.
Companion plants to consider:
- Shasta daisies
- Black-Eyed Susans
- Blanket Flowers
- Ornamental grasses like Purple fountain grass
- Blazing Star Liatris
Now is the time you've been waiting for. It is time to pick out your coneflower plants!! Below we've been selective in gathering a great assortment of coneflower options for you to choose from.
First, we've gathered three different seed options for you all sold through Eden Brothers (who we order from ourselves). See below for our special coupon for you if you buy any seeds through Eden Brothers!
Next, we chose seven different live coneflower plant options in a range of colors all sold from Green Promise Farms on Amazon.
By the way, if you order through any of our links we'll get a small commission which helps us run our blog and podcast so we can bring you great content! Thank you for considering that.
1) Classic, Purple Coneflower Seeds
Purple Coneflower or Echinacea purpurea is one of the most popular perennials.... [More]
2) White Coneflower Seeds
Coneflower Seeds - White Swan Coneflower Beautiful and graceful, this white version of ... [More]
3) Coneflower Mix Seeds
Conehead Coneflower Seed Mix. OK, so it's not the most original name for a coneflower mixture... [More]
Coupon Time!! As promised, here is a deal for you, our audience, directly from Eden Brothers. We are direct affiliates with this seed company which means we receive a small commission at no cost to you which helps us run our website and podcast.
So, here are the directions. When you get to the Eden Brothers checkout, use our special coupon code "SPOKEN" for an extra 15% off your order!!
First, enter SPOKEN into their coupon code box (just like the first photo). You will know you received the coupon if you see the "coupon applied" notice (see the second photo).
It is that easy!!
4) Live Coneflower Plants
Here is a GREAT option for you if you don't want to wait for seeds to grow. Green Promise Farms sell tons of different types of plants on Amazon and have great reviews from their customers. The cool part is they offer a line they call "American Beauties Native Plants" with a bunch of native plants for promoting more pollinators and healthier environments.
In this native plant line, they offer 7 different varieties of coneflowers, including:
- 'Cheyenne Spirit' - Multi-colored flowers
- 'Green Twister' - Green and pink flowers
- 'Magnus' - Pink flowers
- 'Pow Wow Wild Berry' - Pink flowers
- 'Prairie Splendor' - Pink flowers
- 'Ruby Star' - Pink flowers
- 'White Swan' - White flowers
Each plant is fully rooted and is shipped in a 1-gallon pot. The hardest part will be choosing which variety to buy because they all look so beautiful!!
Plant Care Supplies
Now that you have picked out your seeds or live plants, you need the proper tools for caring for them.
This is a crucial step along your journey to great coneflower plant care, almost as important as choosing the plants themselves. The question is do you have all the tools you need?
If not, below are some recommendations to specific tools we use that will support your coneflower plant maintenance.
1) For Planting
2) For Watering
You'll need some type of garden hose for your plants and this is one of the highest-rated on Amazon from Flexzilla. It is flexible, durable, and comes in multiple lengths for whatever size your yard.
Here's a huge time-saving tip, set up a drip hose and a water timer so you don't have to waste time, water, or money hand watering your plants.
We love this water timer by Orbit because it is easy to set up, has a manual override option for when you need your hose, and features two hose attachments which is awesome.
3) For Deadheading or Trimming
You will need a good, sturdy pair of pruning shears and these are the best in our opinion! These pruning shears from Corona are super sharp and stay sharp.
These would be perfect for deadheading, snipping, or other general light pruning tasks. We use ours all the time!
If you’re looking for further educational resources about all types of perennials, these books below are great educational references!
The first book is our new eBook which we’re so excited to show you! The two books below that can be found on Amazon at the links below.
If you want to create a four-season garden featuring specific, beautiful plants that bloom during specific seasons, look no further than our new book!
In Four-Season Gardening, we’ll teach you plant care tips for 15 seasonal plants and seasonal gardening tricks that could be the difference between a thriving garden and a ho-hum garden. Check it out!
This is a great reference guide for tons of plants from the American Horticultural Society.
This book has stunning images, how-tos, and planting information to grow your own cutting garden.
Or, if you need to shop for other garden plants for this summer or fall, click here to find what you need!
For all you visual learners out there, we thought it would be helpful to gather a couple of Youtube videos related to coneflowers. We hope these videos are helpful!
Coneflower Plant Conclusion
As you have read above, coneflowers are perfect additions to any garden for so many reasons.
Whether for their drought-tolerance, their medicinal uses, their ability to attract pollinators, or their beauty, having coneflowers around will benefit you and everyone else around you for many seasons to come!
Now it is time to hear from you!
What more do you want to learn about coneflower? Do you have any questions that still need answering?
Leave a quick comment below and let us know!
Want to learn about other plants in your garden? Check out some of our previous plant profiles:
- Shasta Daisy: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Crocosmia: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Primroses: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- The Gardener's Guide to Dianthus
- Grape Hyacinth: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Sunflowers: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
See you in the garden!
~ Sean and Allison
P.P.S. Before you go, don't forget to collect your free coneflower plant reference guide!
Echinacea Plant References:
- Long-Blooming Perennials - Missouri Botanical Garden
- Varieties of Coneflowers - HGTV
- Echinacea - Sunset Magazine
- Interesting Facts on Coneflowers - SFGate
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Learn all about the coneflowers in this gardener's guide and profile of these beautiful plants, including plant care, companion plants, and more.
Pollinator Garden Shopping List!
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Included in the cheat sheet for you: A list of recommended plants, links to buy each recommended plant, PLUS a free seed planting sheet!