Coneflowers are Butterfly Magnets
Easy-care coneflowers have undergone a remarkable transformation. No longer shy Midwestern beauties, they’ve burst into entirely new color ranges and gotten gussied up in new flower forms.
Native to America’s heartland, coneflowers (Echinacea) are tough and hardy. Large daisy-like flowers have distinctive, raised centers of brownish-orange to black. Sturdy, straight stems that rise above bristly leaves make them excellent for cutting.
New Flower Forms
Before breeders started paying attention to them, coneflowers had petals that drooped down and were narrow and rather insignificant. The center cone was the most interesting feature. Now, however, large, wide petals are vibrant with color and confidently flare horizontally. Some varieties are fully double—with hundreds of petals and no cones.
Caring for these new, made-over perennials is easy: Give coneflowers full sun and moderate to regular water. Withstanding heat and high humidity, they’ll increase slowly to form clumps, but are a bit tricky to divide.
All through the blooming season, coneflowers are butterfly magnets. If you leave the seed heads into fall and winter, birds will appreciate being able to feed on them.
Once confined to a narrow color range of pinkish purple or white, now you’ll find vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, hot pink, rosy-purple and elegant, creamy white. A popular new variety, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’, has almost all these colors!
‘Pink Double Delight’ is one with a complete makeover. The cones have disappeared, there’s a big boss of many small petals in their place, and the petals arch downward. It's a bright, light pink color that’s beautiful in bouquets.
‘Pixie Meadowbrite’ has loads of strong pink flowers with orange centers on very compact plants. It’s perfect for containers and small spaces. ‘Merlot’ has very double flowers with petals that are beautifully ruffled. Deep bronzy-orange cones contrast with the rich pink blooms.
With large flowers up to 6-inches across, ‘Prairie Splendor’ is a vivid, deep rose-pink with burnt orange cones. ‘Prairie Splendor’ will bloom from early spring well into fall. The bright purple-pink petals of ‘Ruby Star’ are completely horizontal—looking like a sensational daisy.
Large, reddish-orange petals surround very large bronze centers on ‘Sundown’. This unusual coneflower is very fragrant.