Purple Coneflower Plants: Information On Growing Purple Coneflowers

Purple Coneflower Plants: Information On Growing Purple Coneflowers

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

A native to the eastern United States, purple coneflowers are found in many flower gardens. Planting purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in the garden or flower bed draws bees and butterflies, ensuring that nearby plants have plenty of pollinators. The plant also provides a tall background or repeating rows of large, often 6 inches (15 cm.) across, purple, daisy-like flowers. The sturdy stalks, which may reach 5 feet (1.5 m.) in height, rarely bend or require staking for an upright appearance.

Coneflower plants may actually display pink flowers, when the cultivar Echinacea purpurea ‘Pink Double Delight’ is planted.

Growing Purple Coneflowers

Purple coneflower plants grow best in poor or lean soil. Rich or heavily amended soil may result in lush foliage and poor flowering.

When planting purple coneflower, locate them in a full sun area. Full sun is defined as at least six hours of sun each day. In more southern areas, morning sun may facilitate the best performance, with late afternoon shade protecting the plants from burning.

Purple coneflower plants may be started from seed or root division:

  • Seeds: If you wish to collect seeds for next year’s crop of purple coneflower plants, do so before the birds have eaten all the seeds. Place a brown paper bag over the seed head, turn right side up, and let seeds drop into the bag. Professional growers believe stratification (chilling) of the seeds for a few weeks, after they are planted in moist soil, produces a more abundant bloom when growing purple coneflowers. Those in areas where temperatures remain warm year long may want to try this technique. Alternately, planting purple coneflower seeds in autumn, in areas with cold winters, allows the seeds to chill naturally.
  • Division: Purple coneflower plants may be started from root division in fall. Only plants that have been in the ground for three years or longer should be divided. Younger coneflower plants may not have developed a root system that is extensive enough for division. Root division should be limited to every three to four years.

Growing purple coneflower from seeds is easy enough for the beginning gardener, while long-time gardeners delight in the ease of how to care for coneflowers.

How to Care for Coneflowers

Once planted and established, learning how to care for coneflowers is easy. In seasons with normal rainfall, additional watering is not necessary. Purple coneflower plants are drought resistant and often thrive in dry summers.

Coneflower care may include limited fertilization, but this is often not needed. If flowers are small or poorly developed, try working in a small amount of well composted material in the soil around the plants.

When late summer blooms of the purple coneflower begin to look tired or ragged, cut the plant back by a third. This rejuvenates the plant and often produces a new display of beautiful blooms that last until frost.

Coneflower care is as simple as that and the plants will reward you with abundant flowering each and every year thereafter.

This article was last updated on

Coneflowers: Plant Care and Collection of Varieties

About coneflowers
Widely renowned as a medicinal plant, coneflowers are a long-flowering perennial for borders, wildflower meadows, and prairie gardens. Blooming midsummer to fall, the plants are relatively drought-tolerant and rarely bothered by pests. The flowers are a magnet for butterflies, and the seeds in the dried flower heads attract songbirds. Flower colors include rose, purple, pink, and white, plus a new orange variety. Plants grow 2 to 4 feet tall, depending on variety.

Special features of coneflowers
Easy care/low maintenance

Choosing a site to grow coneflowers
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil.

Planting Instructions
Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

Ongoing Care
Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Deadhead spent flowers to extend flower period, but leave late-season flowers on the plants to mature the seedheads will attract birds. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps.

Coneflower Facts

The purple coneflower is native to the South Eastern United States. If you are looking for a plant that will draw butterflies and birds to your garden, the perennial coneflower us a great choice.

Echinacea flowers are attractive and rugged. They sit on tall stems and have a raised center area surrounded by petals. The center of the plant is where the seeds of the plant lie and it is very attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

The plant blooms in the middle of the summer, but the dried flowers also have fall and winter interest for birds long after the bloom time.

The coneflower plant is drought tolerant and is a great perennial if you live in an area that has high heat. They can really take temperatures that would make other plants shrivel and die!

Coneflowers are perennials which means that, once established, the plant will return year after year.

The size of the plant and depends of the type that you grow, as well as your growing conditions. Most purple coneflowers will grow to 2-4 feet tall and about 18-24 inches wide. Some of the dwarf varieties will grow to only about a foot and a half.

Coneflower 'PowWow Wild Berry', Echinacea PowWow Series

Echinacea purpurea 'PowWow Wild Berry' is a clear Gold Medal contender for the incredible color or its blossoms, its outstanding performance, and excellent branching habit that results in more blossoms per plant - an awesome addition to the garden. Retaining their color as they mature, the bright deep purple-pink to magenta flowers, up to 3-4 in. wide (7-10 cm), are beautifully carried on sturdy, well-branched stems. An early bloomer, this Coneflower has a compact habit and shines in the garden from late spring to late summer, sometimes with additional sporadic bloom until frost. Perfect for small gardens and containers.

  • All-American selections Gold Medal in 2010
  • Extremely showy and vigorous, this fabulous herbaceous perennial is a perfect choice for beds and borders, naturalized areas, meadows, prairies, wildflower gardens or containers.
  • Excellent as cut or dried flowers. If flower heads are not removed in the fall, the blackened cones will be visited by birds that feed on the seeds.
  • Easy care, this Coneflower grows in clumps up to 18-24 in. tall (45-60 cm) and 12-16 in. wide (30-40 cm).
  • Thrives in full sun or light shade. It prefers average, dry to medium, well-drained soils. Avoid overly rich or fertile soil or the plant might become leggy.
  • Planted in mass, the cone-shaped flower heads provide quite an attraction to butterflies, hummingbirds and yourself!
  • Drought, deer, heat, humidity and poor soil tolerant!
  • Remove spent flowers and cut back the stems to encourage further blooms and reduce self-seeding. Deadheading will help them grow and thrive.

Echinacea, commonly called Coneflower, has been cultivated as a hardy and showy perennial since the 1700s, both in North America and Europe. Truly an American plant, native to the central and eastern part of the country, it was used by the early native Americans to cure wounds and infections. A great prairie flower, its bright and large blossoms made a successful transition to the backyard. Traditionally purple, with ray flowers that droop downward off the central cone, Coneflowers today enjoy a rich variety of colors and flower shapes with ray florets held horizontal, single or even doubled, giving them the look of Chrysanthemum. Easily grown from seed, they thrive on neglect.


The Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), also known as the Hedgehog Coneflower, is a very popular garden shrub from the daisy (Asteraceae) family, which originates from the North American prairies. The native Americans have long considered the wild shrub as an anti-septic healing plant, and it is used in many cold remedies today.

In 1696, the shrub was brought to England for the first time and described by the botanist Leonard Plukenet (1642–1706) as "Chrysanthenum americanum", as he discovered it had similarities with garden chrysanthemums. Carl von Linné gave the species the name Rudbeckia purpurea in 1753, thereby assigning it to the genus Rudbeckia. It was only in 1794 that the genus was given its current name Echinacea by Conrad Moench (1744–1805). In the meantime, Rudbeckia and Echinacea have been assigned to two different botanical genera. The Purple Coneflowers have not officially been closely related to the Yellow Coneflower (Rudbeckia) for several years, although the plants appear very similar at a first glance. However, the extent of the relationship between the two shrubs remains a heated topic among botanists. However, clear differences can be determined if we compare the two shrubs with one another.

All variants of the vibrantly colorful coneflower are some of the most popular summer shrubs

The description “Hedgehog Coneflower” is an indication of the spikey texture of the flower heads. The botanical name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word "echinos", which also means “spiny one”. There are now numerous vibrantly colorful breeds of Echinacea purpurea.

Purple ConeFlower (Echinacea purpurea) Planting and Care


flower basket
ray florets

Ornamental or utility value

flower decoration
medicinal plant
nectar or pollen plant

flower beds
single position
group planting


weakly alkaline to weakly acidic

pharmacy garden
farm garden
flower garden
prairie garden
pot garden

The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), also known as the red coneflower coneflower or hedgehog’s head, is a very popular garden perennial from the Asteraceae family, which originally comes from the prairies of North America. Already with the Indians the wild perennial was considered as antiseptic medicinal plant and is used today in many cold preparations.

In 1696 the perennial was first described in England by the botanist Leonard Plukenet (1642-1706) as “Chrysanthenum americanum” because he discovered similarities with the garden chrysanthemum. Carl von Linné gave the species the name Rudbeckia purpurea in 1753, with which it was assigned to the genus Rudbeckia. Only 1794, the genus received its until today valid name Echinacea through Conrad Moench (1744-1805). Meanwhile Rudbeckia and Echinacea are assigned to two different botanical genera. With the yellow sunhat (Rudbeckia), the purple sunhats – for some years – are officially no longer closely related, although the plants look very similar at first sight. However, the degree of kinship between the two perennials is still hotly debated among botanists. If one compares the two perennials more closely with each other, however, clear differences can be determined.

The perennial owes its German name to the shape of the flower base, which resembles a pointed hat. The term “hedgehog’s head” refers to the prickly texture of the flower heads. The botanical name Echinacea is derived from the Greek word “echinos”, which also means “hedgehog”. In the United States, the purple sun hat only appeared in the second half of the 18th century. Meanwhile, there are numerous colorful breeds of Echinacea purpurea.

The purple sun hat forms upright eyries. From a strong tap root with numerous vertically growing secondary roots, upright stems hairy with bristles grow. The perennial shrub grows to a height of between 80 and 100 centimetres. In winter the above-ground parts of the plant freeze to death, but in spring Echinacea purpurea reliably sprouts again.

The basal leaves are ovoid, toothed, rough-haired, dark green and up to 15 centimetres long. The stem leaves are slightly smaller.

From July to September, up to twelve centimetres wide, marguerite-like flower heads appear with purple-pink ray florets and a highly arched, brown-red centre, the so-called basket. There are now also varieties with white, yellow and orange-red flowers. The flowers magically attract butterflies and bees.

Echinacea purpurea forms grey-white, up to five millimetre long split fruits, so-called achenes.

The magnificent shrub needs a sunny place as a location. Although semi-shade places are also possible, Echinacea purpurea will plant fewer flowers in such places.

The purple coneflower thrives best on nutrient-rich, permeable soils that are not too heavy.

The plant is relatively short-lived, so you should cut it back to a hand’s breadth above the ground immediately after flowering and divide it every few years.

Once the shrub has gained a foothold, it is relatively easy to maintain. It is necessary to remove withered flowers regularly. A pruning directly after flowering prolongs the life time. Composting in the spring and occasional stinging nettle liquid manure are also good for the plant to thrive.

As the years go by, Echinacea purpurea’s joy in flowering diminishes and it no longer sprouts so vigorously. Then a rejuvenation cure by division will help: Dig out the rootstock, divide it up and replant the parts. You should do this every four to five years, preferably in spring.

Echinacea purpurea works very well in sunny borders, for example in combination with asters, goldenrods, ornamental grasses or Rudbeckien. The nectar-rich perennial, which attracts numerous butterflies and bees, is also very effective in open spaces that are close to nature. The long flower stems are impressive cut flowers.

Echinacea purpurea as a medicinal plant
The purple sun hat was already used by the natives of North America as an antiseptic against inflammation. For some years now the perennial has also been known to us for its effect as a natural remedy: The substances contained in the above-ground plant parts, for example alkamides, essential oils and caffeic acid derivatives, have a positive effect on the immune system. In addition, the ingredients support respiratory or urinary tract infections. Externally, echinacea preparations, which are usually available in tablet or liquid form in pharmacies, are used for poorly healing wounds, psoriasis or herpes.

The purple coneflower, which traditionally blooms in carmine red, should now be given a new name because it no longer lives up to its old name: it has been available in white for quite some time, and the new varieties from the USA even have sulphur yellow to bright red flowers, but garden lovers in America are now also interested in new crosses of Echinacea paradoxa and Echinacea purpurea with sonorous names such as ‘Sunrise’, ‘Sunset’ or ‘Harvest Moon’. The ‘Sunset’ variety, for example, has bright salmon-orange petals all around a copper-coloured centre. In this variety not all petals unroll. This gives the flower a star-shaped appearance.

The pompom-like filled Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’ is also bright orange-red. The flowers already appear in June and even exude a light scent. The variety ‘Tiki Torch’ with its large flowers shines like a torch in pure orange. Bright tomato red is the variety ‘Tomato Soup’, which has been awarded two out of three stars in the herbaceous sifting test. An unusual sight among the purple sun hats is ‘Green Envy’. The white-green petals change colour from the centre to the tips, from pink to a delicate shade of red. Due to this colour gradient and its stable stem, it is particularly suitable as a cut flower. The variety ‘Sunrise’ shows flowers of up to twelve centimetres in size in a delicate light yellow with a green dome. It smells good too. Green Jewel’ defoliates its cup-shaped light green petals around a dark green centre. Unfortunately the beauties are not quite cheap, because the breeders have protected all the novelties of their assortment. The nurseries therefore have to pay quite high licence fees for propagation, which they pass on to the end customers.

In principle, sowing by seed is possible with this species. The varieties of Echinacea purpurea are best propagated by division in spring.

Diseases and pests
Basically Echinacea purpurea is robust against diseases and pests.

Order Purple Sun Hat at the our store-Shop

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

Watch the video: How to Grow Echinacea - Purple Coneflower