In Bloom: Coneflowers

Big, pretty flowers, tough and hardy, perennial, and flowers in August when there’s a bit of a lull in the perennial border, it’s hard to beat coneflowers for a fuss-free late summer charmer. From the original purple classic have come hundreds of stellar hybrids expanding the range of colors to virtually the entire rainbow. Here are a few we recommend for their distinct colors and appeal to summer and late-season pollinators.

(Above is Ruby Star coneflower which has extra-big flowers…and a couple of awards, too. )

Craftsman Tip!

Remember to deadhead after the main event in August-September to encourage flowering into the autumn.

GLEAMING AND GLOWING

From pure white to muted creams and ivories, removing coneflower’s traditional warm, bright colors really shows the simple elegance of these flowers. How perfect for a mid-to-late summer all-white garden with swaths of Shasta daisies, phlox, and buddleia!

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Sombrero® Blanco 
Zone: 4 – 9

Compact, prolific bloomer perfect for a sunny container (and great cut flower).

Echinacea, 'Milkshake', coneflower

Milkshake 
Zone: 5 – 9

Ruffly blooms in midsummer and come back in fall if cut back after flowering.

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PowWow® White 
Zone: 3 – 9

Because the plant branches from the base, it also produces more flower stems!

SUNNY AND HAPPY

The garden needs saturated color when the sun goes full-on in summer (butterflies love these colors!). Mix these with other shades of reds or tone down the effect with splashes of blue, purple, or shades of green. We like penstemon, veronica, and Limelight hydrangea.

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Sundown Big Sky™ Series 
Zone: 4 – 9

Fragrant! Bright orange flowers segue seamlessly into the fall garden.

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Sombrero® Lemon Yellow 
Zone: 4 – 9

Leave extra-large dried blooms on plant in fall to feed wintering song birds.

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Sombrero® Flamenco Orange 
Zone: 4 – 9

Orange-red blooms that don’t fade under the direct rays of the summer sun.

WARM AND MELLOW

Why not plant something now that flows into fall’s deep, rich, harvest colors? While brown or pale melon might not might be your first thought when designing a border or a container, the sumptuousness of these velvet-hues creates a sophistication that’s pretty enviable.

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Echibeckia™ Summerina™ Yellow
Zone: 6 – 10

Looks like a rudbeckia, acts like an echinacea!  Huge flowers last 2 – 3 months.

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 Supreme Cantaloupe 
Zone: 4 – 10

Fragrant, long lasting, all-summer anemone-type blooms. (With blue hydrangeas? Wow.)

Rudbeckia Summerina Brown

Echibeckia™ Summerina™ Brown
Zone: 6 – 10

Mass for garden drama. Orange-tipped petals start with a broad red-brown center.

BOLD AND BRIGHT

Siren song for pollinators and magazine-worthy when cut and massed in a large vase, reds and deeps pinks also help bring all those green boxwood hedges and other more formal borders to life. Adding a few catmint and fine-leafed grasses enhances the look.

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Double Scoop™ Cranberry 
Zone: 4 – 9

Giant flowers swirl with bees and butterflies. Mix in a pot with maiden grass.

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Merlot 
Zone: 4 – 9

Butterflies swarm the rich pink flowers on dark-hued stems. Fragrant, too!

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Tomato Soup 
Zone: 4 – 9

Hot color and spicy fragrance well into fall. Pretty in a border with Russian sage.

Cultivating Coneflowers:

  • Provide average, well-drained soil.
  • Water deeply, regularly during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system.
  • Reduce frequency once established; tolerates mild dry spells.
  • Clip spent flowers to promote repeat bloom.
  • Cut back in fall after frost, or leave dried seed heads through winter.
  • Prune any old foliage and fertilize in before new growth begins in spring.

Photo Credit: (Top) Saxon Holt Photography

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