How to Grow 'Firebird' Coneflower (Echinacea)

Drought-Tolerant Perennial Boasts Beautiful Color

Firebird coneflower with its orange flower
David Beaulieu

The namers of this coneflower cultivar got it right: The chief selling point of 'Firebird' coneflower is its fiery flower color. Its bright orange color makes it one of the best perennials to grow in full sun. The genus name Echinacea derives from the Greek word for "hedgehog," and its flowers' cones look like a network of tiny needles, much like the animal. The flower has a "shuttlecock" shape like a birdie in badminton. The leaves of this perennial are dark green and have a clumping habit. When the flowers first form, they, too, are green. The Firebird is fast-growing, germinating in about three weeks. However, it's a biennial, usually only blooming in its second growth year. It's best to plant it in the spring or fall.

Botanical Name Echinacea 'Firebird'
Common Name Coneflower, echinacea
Plant Type Herbaceous, perennial
Mature Size 36 inches in height with a 36-inch spread
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Well-drained, sandy, clay, loamy
Soil pH 6.5 to 7.0
Bloom Time June through October
Flower Color Reddish-orange
Hardiness Zones 4 to 8 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Fireball Coneflower Care

This orange coneflower cultivar looks much like a type of wildflower and is used in a meadow planting. As it is drought resistant, it is often used in rock gardens and is useful for xeriscaping. The plant is valued as a long-blooming perennial and works well with other sun-loving perennials. Its fiery color will attract hummingbirds and it's also a butterfly and rabbit magnet. It is deer resistant but may attract slugs, snails, and cutworms. Neem oil or another organic insecticide soap should keep the bugs at bay.

Light

Coneflowers of all kinds thrive in full or partial sun, tolerating the heat without a problem. These plants need at least five hours of sunlight a day. 

Water

This plant is drought tolerant. It only needs about an inch of water every week.

Soil

Coneflowers prefer well-draining fertile soil. However, it's not a fussy plant and can still live in poor soil.

Temperature and Humidity

Most coneflowers are cold-hardy in zones 3 to 8, including the Firebird variety. This means that they can be grown in most areas of the USA. They love the hot, dry heat of summer and can handle some humidity but do not like moist, soggy soil.

Fertilizer

At planting, you can give it fertilizer or humus-rich compost but go light with it. You may end up with lush foliage but fewer flowers.

Pruning

Gardeners may deadhead the flowers for aesthetic reasons; it doesn't promote reblooming (they will rebloom on their own).

Propagating Firebird Coneflowers

If your plant looks to be losing its vitality or overcrowding in its container or spot, divide the plants in the spring. These plants can grow from seeds, division of existing plants, or root cuttings.

How to Grow Firebird Coneflowers From Seed

These plants propagate easily from seeds. They prefer cold stratification (or storing the seeds just below freezing for two to three months, such as a fridge or freezer door). Warming up triggers the growth cycle for the seeds. Plant the seeds in the spring well after the last frost with temperatures in the 60s. Plant the seeds 1 to 3 feet apart. Germination begins after about 4 weeks. After 12 weeks, you should start seeing several sets of leaves. Unfortunately, coneflowers usually do not flower the first growing season.

Potting and Repotting Firebird Coneflowers

Firebird coneflower is a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It can grow about 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. As far as the type of container, it makes a great thriller centerpiece. Plant it near the center of the pot surrounded by smaller plants that are "fillers" to fill in the spaces and "spillers" that spill over the pot. When growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they often require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

Overwintering

You may need to give the plant some protection in the first winter in your garden, but after this, they are tough and rugged.