Seven of Our Favorite Echinacea Varieties


Demand for this humble, easy-to-grow native plant continues to grow. Beloved for its beauty, planting this pollinator friendly plant is also a great way to support wildlife. With growing demand comes new varieties - some are 'nativars' (a variant of the species brought into cultivation), and some are hybrids (crosses between two different coneflower species). And of course there is the popularity of old-timey nativars and straight species natives that have been enjoyed for decades. Growers breeding new cultivars are continually introducing new options each year - and while all are lovely, we like to note what varieties perform best in trial gardens as well as test them in our own. Many of the more vividly colored cultivars can be stunning but act more like an annual or short-lived perennial compared with the longer-lived, more vigorous growth habits of the natives and nativars. Each year we determine which coneflowers to grow based on the information we've read and observed - here are just a few of our favorites from this year! We'd love to hear from you as to which varieties perform best in your gardens!


Why are most coneflowers so low maintenance in the garden? Read our blog post, Why We Love Native Plants to find out!





1. Echinacea purpurea,''Purple Coneflower'


When you think of coneflower this is probably the variety that first comes to mind. A popular perennial in North Carolina gardens, purple coneflower doesn’t occur in the wild very often anymore, due to habitat destruction. This sun-loving plant produces purple flowers with dark orange centers from June to August. A straight species with no artificial selection or alteration, it's great for wildlife, has a self-seeding habit and long bloom period, and the drought tolerance makes it a favorite of beginners and professionals alike. We also enjoy E. purpurea 'Magnus', a nativar very close to the straight species purple that was selected for larger blooms with more upright petals.

  • Native Area: Central and southeastern U.S.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8

  • Height: 2 to 5 feet

  • Width: 1 to 2 feet

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: mid-late summer

  • Native: Yes


2. Echinacea, 'Cheyenne Spirit'


It is impossible not to fall in love with the wide assortment of hues found in this cultivar of coneflower - you'll often find multiple colors on a single plant! The blooms emerge in peachy oranges, buttery yellows, creams, bold reds, neon pinks, bright tangerines and more, and will be an instant show-stopper in your garden. Pollinators and birds love it as well!

  • Native Area: Cultivar

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 9a

  • Height: 12 to 30 inches

  • Width: 18 to 20 inches

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: June - August

  • Native: Cultivar



3. Echinacea tennesseensis, 'Tennessee Coneflower'


We love the delicate petals on one of the nation's rarest wildflowers. In fact, this species was the second plant listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in June 1979. That is due in part to the fact that this variety is neither as vigorous nor does it spread as quickly as many other Echinacea. Avoid planting it with other coneflower varieties as they may crowd out this beautiful native.

  • Native Area: Tennessee

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8

  • Height: 1.5 to 2 feet

  • Width: 1 to 1.5 feet

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: June-August

  • Native: Yes




4. Echinacea, Sombrero 'Adobe Orange'

The Sombrero Series of cultivars introduced by Darwin Perennials has many colors, including pink, white, yellow, and orange. It's a hybrid developed in Illinois in 2007, and got its name because the center cone is purportedly shaped like a sombrero. The bloom colors are very rich with little fading. This vivid coneflower will produce blooms from late spring to late summer, and possibly even longer.

  • Native Area: Cultivar

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9

  • Height: 18 to 26 inches

  • Width: 18 to 24 inches

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: Late spring to late summer

  • Native: Cultivar




5. Echinacea purpurea, ''Pow Wow White'

Producing bountiful bright white blooms that arch downward, this more compact selection blooms from late spring to late summer and may even surprise you with a few sporadic blooms until first frost. We especially love planting this variety with black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckias) as they contrast dramatically.

  • Native Area: Central and southeastern U.S.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9

  • Height: 18 to 24 inches

  • Width: 12 to 18 inches

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: June - August

  • Native: Nativar




6. Echinacea purpurea, 'Prairie Splendor'


This is a more compact selection of purple coneflower that will reach a maximum height of 2 feet. Featuring rich rose/magenta colored petals surrounding an orange cone, these make beautiful cut flowers - either on their own or in an arrangement. The compact size and earlier bloom time make this a popular choice for those desiring coneflower blooms throughout the seasons which can also fit in a variety of garden locations (front vs middle of beds or in smaller spaces).

  • Native Area: Central and southeastern U.S.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8

  • Height: 1 to 2 feet

  • Width: 15 to18 inches

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: June-August

  • Native: Nativar




7. Echinacea 'Butterfly Postman'


Named for the red-banded tropical butterfly, this newer hybrid coneflower features fragrant dark red blooms and deep green foliage. Truly eye-catching, this vigorous yet compact cultivar looks great planted with blue ornamental grasses, white and orange flowered perennials, and coarsely textured leaves like ‘Black Ripple’ elephant ear.


  • Native Area: Cultivar

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9

  • Height: 15 to 24 inches

  • Width: 18 to 24 inches

  • Soil: Average, well-draining, drought tolerant once established

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Bloom Time: Early summer - early fall

  • Native: Cultivar


Note: We look forward to a more in depth discussion of natives vs nativars vs cultivars and the pros and cons of each - watch for a blog post soon!


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