Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Purple Coneflower has a rich history of medicinal use that has resulted in its over harvesting and decline in its natural habitat, centered in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. The few established populations in Virginia and Pennsylvania appear to be escapes from cultivation. So many beneficial insects (and goldfinches) flock to it though, one thinks of Echinacea as native. In any case, its attributes make it a “must-have” for a sunny garden.

Print Version: Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea - Perennial Height: 2–4 feet                         Spread: 11⁄2–2 feet Bloom Color: Mauve, lavender  Characteristics Tallish perennial with coarse dark green foliage Prickly, deep orange disk or “cone” encircled by mauve rays that droop with age; blooms for one month early summer, then may rebloom early fall Cone produces seeds, matures to brown/black  Attributes Tolerates poor soil, heat, humidity; intolerant of water logging; susceptible to leaf spot (when watering do not get moisture on leaves/stems); deer seldom to occasionally severely damage Blooms last well as cut flowers Winter interest if not deadheaded & cones remain Ethnobotanic, therapeutic, and herbal uses Attracts beneficial insects and goldfinches; may be larval host to Silvery Checkerspot butterfly  Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Slightly acid, well-drained Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Prefers full sun but will wilt if soil is too dry Deadhead to control seeds–won’t affect rebloom Use in borders; butterfly, cutting or meadow gardens Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–8  Excellent Replacement for Aster species (including Michaelmas Daisy); Lythrum salicaria - Purple Loosestrife; Melilotus officinalis – Sweetclover
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets