Coneflowers for Late Season Color - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Coneflowers for Late Season Color

If your perennials are looking a bit peaked this time of year, coneflowers may be just what the plant doctor ordered!

The name coneflower actually refers to several different species of plants, but all have a similar type of flower structure. The flowers are in clusters that form a “head,” just like a sunflower or daisy type flower. Each of what appears to be a petal is actually an entire flower.

Purple coneflower, known botanically as Echinacea purpurea, is a popular, easy-to-grow perennial flower that brings a splash of color from mid-summer right up until frost. Echinacea is most commonly known for its bluish-purple flowers, but it also is available in white and red. The Perennial Plant Association (PPA) named the Echinacea cultivar ‘Magnus’ as the perennial plant of the year for 1998. Magnus was selected for its intense reddish-purple blooms.

Purple coneflower tends to be a rather tall plant, reaching 3-5 feet, so place them where there will be lower-growing plants in front.

Another popular type of coneflower is the yellow or orange coneflower, also known as black-eyed Susan. Most of the yellow/orange coneflowers that commonly are grown in the garden belong to one of the species of Rudbeckia. Like its cousin Echinacea, Rudbeckia blooms from mid-summer right up until frost kills the plants. The PPA selected Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ as its 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year.

There are several species and even more different cultivars of Rudbeckia. Some are grown as perennials, while others bloom the first year from seed and can be grown as annual bedding plants. There are dwarf Rudbeckia that stay as low as 1-1 1/2 feet such as ‘Becky.’ ‘Goldsturm’ was selected for its compact growth habit, reaching 18-30 inches tall. A bit taller is ‘Indiana Summer,’ reaching 36-48 inches.

All of the coneflowers are easy to grow in just about any type of soil, but do best in full sun and well-drained loamy soil. They are easily propagated by cuttings, seed or division.


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