This familiar plant helped launch fresh interest in prairie flowers and has been hybridized into a rainbow of new colors. Get a true native variety, such as pale purple coneflower with drooping petals (Echinacea pallida), for long-lasting blooms and more drought tolerance. There also are yellow varieties, such as Ozark coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa). With several varieties planted, you can keep flowers blooming for three months to keep attracting pollinators. Don’t deadhead and let them go to seed if you want to attract goldfinches.
A classic native wildflower, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) brings a steady stream of color to gardens all summer long. It’s a hearty plant, withstanding full sun, drought and poor soil of all sorts (clay, rocky, shallow). Plant breeders have worked to improve this flower powerhouse by expanding blossom color and form. The result? You can find (no longer purple) coneflower plants in a rainbow of shades, including red, gold, white, orange and pink. This variety is PowWow Wildberry, which unfurls vivid rose-purple blooms. Coneflowers are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Purple coneflower grows 24 to 60 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Some newer varieties grow shorter. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for purple coneflower: Oriental or Asiatic lily, Russian sage, catmint, hosta and gas plant.
A true native purple coneflower (Echinacea) has thin, reflexed petals in pale shades. The purple coneflowers with bright, colorful blooms in perennial gardens are typically hybrids of native wildflowers like this.
Purple coneflower, daisies, foxglove, black-eyed Susans, astilbe and hollyhocks fill this garden. "More than half the plants were split from perennials in other areas of my garden," says the homeowner, "and this turned out to be my favorite bed."