Echinacea have been grown in the U.K. since the late 1600’s. This was when an English clergyman, living in America, sent seeds to the then Keeper of Oxford Botanic Gardens.  

Coneflowers provide late season interest to the flower border. as well as having alternative medical uses. As parts of the plant are said to be immune system boosters.

What is the botanical name for Echinacea?

Echinacea are in the family Asteraceae.

Their latin name ‘Echinacea’ comes from the greek word for hedgehog, Ekhinos. This is taken from the fact that the cone shaped prickly centres are said to resemble a curled up hedgehog!

What are the common names for Echinacea?


Where are Echinacea native to?

The prairies and hillsides of Central and East America.

echinacea coneflower in native setting

What does Echinacea look like?

Coneflowers are hardy herbaceous perennials which, if happy with their growing conditions, survive for many years.

The species E. purpurea produce daisy-like, pink petal flowers with a central, large, orange-brown cone, (which gives them their common name of coneflower).  There are many different cultivars available with different heights and flower colours.

What colours do they come in?

Flower colours range from different shades of pink to green, white, orange and yellow.

Pink echinacea coneflowers
Green echinacea coneflowers
White echinacea coneflowers
Orange echinacea coneflowers
Yellow echinacea coneflower

Where does Echinacea like to grow?

Coneflowers will happily grow in well-drained, light soil in full sun, but keep them away from heavy, sticky, over wet soil!

How do you grow Echinacea successfully?

Coneflower are easy to grow if given the right conditions.

For the best results, plant them in a sunny, south or west-facing part of the garden in a fertile, well-drained soil. And try not to overcrowd them, allowing space of around 40cm between each plant.

Plants should still grow well in part shade but will not flower so freely.

Shorter growing varieties such as ‘Pink Double Delight’ and ‘Rubinglow’ should grow well in containers. And all plants benefit from being given an autumn mulch of compost or well-rotted manure.

Echinacea pink double delight coneflower
Echinacea rubinglow coneflower

Is Echinacea good for pollinators?

The flowers of coneflower are extremely attractive to pollinating insects, particularly butterflies and bees.

How to choose the right Echinacea for your garden?

Be aware of the fact that although cultivars with double flowers such as E. ‘Razzmatazz’ will flower for longer than their single flowered cousins, they often rot off over winter, due to poor root systems.

For longer lasting plants, look for the single pink or white flowered cultivars such as E. purpurea and E. ‘White Swan’.

Shorter growing plants such as E. ‘Tomato Soup’ fare well in containers, which could also be placed amongst fading flower borders to give late summer interest and then taken out and over-wintered in a greenhouse.

Echinacea 'Razzmatazz'
Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea 'White Swan'

How big will my Echinacea get?

Most Coneflower cultivars generally grow to a height and spread of around 50-60cm although some, such as ‘Sunset’ reach heights of around 100cm.

When to plant Echinacea?

One of the best times to plant coneflower is in May or June when all risk of frost has passed.  Try to avoid planting in the autumn as plants are more likely to rot off during the winter months, especially if the soil is wet and/or heavy.

How to care for them?

Once established in the right growing environment, coneflowers should be low maintenance.  Water plants well In their first summer after planting after which they should become drought tolerant.

If grown in a flower border the stems should not need support, but may do so if grown in containers.

Mulch around the plant in spring and autumn.

How do I keep my Echinacea looking good?

A few weeks after flowering the leaves of bleeding hearts will start to die down.  Wait until the leaves wilt and turn yellow before removing them, cutting down to ground level.

Remove faded flowers to encourage repeat flowering, cutting stems of spent flowers down at the base of the plant.

If you want some of your coneflowers to flower later then cut flowering stems by half their height around late-May.

Pruning echinacea

Coneflower plants normally flower from late July until September and it’s worth keeping some of the spent flowers on the plant around late august early September as the distinctive cones in the centre of the flowers will provide winter interest as well as the seeds within them potential food for birds.

Once the birds have had their fill and very few seeds remain in the cone, cut the whole stem down to the base of the plant.

Being a herbaceous perennial the leaves will die down in late November, with fresh ones appearing in the spring.

When the base clump of foliage becomes congested, wait until spring and then dig up the plant, divide and replant.  Try to avoid doing this too often as coneflower plants do not like being disturbed once established.

How do I propagate Echinacea?

Mature plants can be lifted and divided in the spring or, alternatively root cuttings taken in late autumn or early spring when the plants are dormant.

Ripe seeds can be collected but may not grow ‘true to type’, especially if you’re growing more than one different type of coneflower but could be fun to experiment with to see what you end up with!

What problems can Echinacea have?

Normally pest and disease free, coneflower may be attacked by vine weevil larvae if grown in containers.

What varieties should you look out for?

There are many different cultivars to choose from the pink petal species Echinacea purpurea to the distinctively green-petaled E. ‘Green Jewel’.

Echinacea pallida

Try E. pallida for a more unusual, but very pretty, drooping, light pink petal flowered plant, which is one of the best for attracting pollinating insects.

Echinacea 'meditation'

E. ‘Meditation is unusual in that the flowers are scented, the central cone wider and the petals shorter and more numerous than most other coneflower cultivars.

Echinacea 'white swan'

One of the best white flowered cultivars to grow is E. ‘White Swan’ and the most drought tolerant, E. purpurea.

Echinacea 'Hot Lava'

If you’re looking for bright, hot colours, then E. ‘Hot Lava’ is an excellent choice with its blazing orange-red flowers.

When should I buy Echinacea?

The best time to buy coneflower plants is from garden centres and plant nurseries during the spring.

Which garden design styles does Echinacea work best in?

Coneflower are particularly associated with prairie style planting designs and also look good in modern or contemporary planting schemes. Particularly if planted amongst mid-height grasses like molinia cerulea.

Echinacea, or coneflowers, are a wonderful pollinator-friendly addition to any garden. Using my advice, you can enjoy them in your garden with ease.

For some wonderful and colourful options to grow in October:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: