Something has happened to the lowly native coneflower over the past decade. Breeders have put their best efforts toward developing new and improved colors and forms of this popular native wildflower, and with these makeovers, Echinacea has morphed into a rock star of the garden.
Not that there was anything wrong with the original E. purpurea, a familiar dusky purple daisy-like flower with a prominent orange center. Its long bloom period, self-seeding habit, and drought tolerance still makes it a favorite of beginners and professionals alike, who delight in the wildlife-friendly attributes of the pollen-rich blooms.
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A 2008 introduction that thrives in full sun or dappled shade, Avalanche may well replace the less hardy Shasta daisy in your flower garden. White with a green center, these 18-inch plants are deer-resistant and will grow in rocky soils. This is a good variety for slightly cooler climates and suitable for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 to 8.
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This Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner takes the guesswork out of garden design; one packet of seeds will yield cheerful blooms in shades of yellow, orange, purple, cream, and red. If you start your seeds indoors after Christmas, you will see late summer blooms on these fast-growing plants.
Cheyenne Spirit grows 18 to 30 inches tall and blooms in July and August. It prefers a slightly warmer climate than other varieties and is suitable for planting in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9.
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The gently drooping petals and prominent cones of Daydream will remind you of the native form of Echinacea blooms, but Daydream delivers more flowers on highly branching and compact plants. Daydream blooms earlier than many coneflower varieties beginning as early as May and continuing the show for five months.
This variety is relatively short, 20 to 21 inches, and is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Double Scoop Cranberry
The Double Scoop series of echinacea is a response to consumer demand for lush, double-petaled flowers. In addition to the clear red blooms of Double Scoop Cranberry, gardeners can purchase Bubblegum, Orangeberry, and Raspberry variations on the Double Scoop coneflowers, all featuring a mop of petals surrounded by flaring petals.
Double Scoop Cranberry grows 24 to 26 inches tall and is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.Continue to 5 of 24 below.
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The glowing shuttlecock blooms of Firebird appeal to gardeners who love the cones of echinacea as much as they do the petals. It was developed in Oregon as part of the Bird series in 2009. One of the best features of this butterfly magnet is the non-fading color of the brilliant flowers. The 25-inch plants will light up the front of your mixed sunny flower border. Firebird is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9 and blooms profusely from midsummer through fall.
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This 2009 introduction from Oregan has bicolor yellow and orange petals combined with deep red cones, making it a garden designer’s dream. Pair this early bloomer with the crimson and gold Summer Punch coreopsis or your favorite burgundy heuchera variety.
Flame Thrower is a relatively tall plant, 35 to 39 inches in height, and is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. It has the typical long bloom season—mid-summer through fall.
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If you have not discovered the green flower craze, Greenline coneflowers are a great introduction to this versatile bloom color. A stand of Greenline adds textural interest to the sunny border, but these chartreuse beauties really shine when planted alongside magenta or hot pink flowers.
Greenline is a relatively early bloomer by coneflower standards, producing flowers from June to August. It grows 18 to 24 inches in height and is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
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The Dutch have provided so many new flower introductions, and this garden exclamation point, Hot Papaya from breeder Arie Blom, is no exception. Newly opened flowers start off with a brilliant gold hue, which transition to tropical flame orange. The flowers shine among other bright yellow and red flowers, but also stand out when combined with cool blue flowers.
This is a medium-sized coneflower at 32 inches in height and is a typical coneflower in all other habits, suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9 and blooming from mid-summer to fall.Continue to 9 of 24 below.
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As one of the members of Terra Nova’s Prairie Pillars series, Leilani coneflowers exhibit strong stems that perform well as cut flowers on vigorous plants that shrug off the harsh summer heat. The 40-inch plants bear bright yellow flowers from July through October with occasional deadheading. Leilani is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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PowWow Wild Berry
Available as seeds to populate your large garden, PowWow Wild Berry will bloom just 20 weeks after sowing. The 2010 All-America Selection winner continues to pump out new buds on branching 24-inch plants, even if you fail to deadhead faded blooms. This is a more compact plant, and one with a preference for a slightly cooler climate—USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
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The variable names in the coneflower Secret series hint that this flower is trying to break into the lucrative Valentine’s cut flower market. Secret Passion joins eight other Secret echinaceas, including S. Glow, S. Desire, and S. Romance, all sporting fully double and lushly petaled blossoms. The flowers are fragrant and fade-resistant, making them valuable additions to your vase. Secret Passion is a good choice for southern gardens, as its USDA hardiness zone range extends from zones 4 to 10.
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If you are creating a patriotic red, white, and blue garden, vibrant red Tomato Soup coneflowers will bloom their hearts out throughout the summer. Pair them with easy bachelor’s buttons and any white coneflower variety to complete the display. Plant these in full sun for best color development.
A medium-sized coneflower at 32 inches, this variety is known for enormous flowers, a full 5 inches across. It is suitable for the typical coneflower climate range, USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.Continue to 13 of 24 below.
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Introduced in 2017 as part of the Kismet Series, Intense Orange echinacea is noted for a large number of flowers in multi-tone shades ranging from deep orange to rich pumpkin. Dark green foliage complements the flowers, which continue to bloom from summer through frost.
This is a nice compact plant, growing to a height of only 16 to 18 inches. It is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Sunrise is one of the Big Sky series (E. paradoxa crossed with E. purpurea). It has pale yellow flowers with centers that start out green and change to gold. The flowers are 5 inches across and very fragrant. Sunrise grows to a height of 30 to 36 inches and is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Green Envy is one of the more unusual coneflowers. Its flowers start out completely green, then gradually develop a halo of magenta around the center cone. This variety grows to 30 to 36 inches tall with a slightly shorter bloom season than other coneflowers (mid- to late-summer). Green Envy, like most coneflowers, is recommended for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Razzmatazz is a true double coneflower bred in Holland. Instead of a central cone, each flower has a dome covered with short petals surrounded by a skirt of longer petals.
The flowers are bright pink, and the plant grows 32 to 36 inches tall. It has the typical coneflower climate range, USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.Continue to 17 of 24 below.
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Double Decker was developed from an unusual mutation in Germany. It is a pink coneflower with a unique double-layer bloom. In the first year, the plant's blooms resemble traditional pink coneflowers, but beginning in the second growing season, the second layer of shorter petals appear.
This is a relatively tall coneflower, growing as tall as 40 inches. It has a long bloom period from late spring to late summer and prefers a slightly cooler climate, USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
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Kim's Knee High
Closely resembling a traditional purple coneflower in nearly every way except size, Kim's Knee High tops out at 12 to 18 inches in height, making it the smallest of coneflower varieties. It is a good choice for small gardens, or wherever a more compact variety is called for. Kim's Knee High is recommended climate range is from USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8.
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Echinacea purpurea Bravado resembles a traditional wild coneflower on steroids. It is a robust plant that grows to fully 4 feet in height with large 4- to 5-inch-wide blooms that range in color from light pink to magenta rose. Unlike native varieties, Bravado holds its petals more outright, rather than curving downward. This variety is suitable for planting in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.
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Fragrant Angel is part of the Prairie Pillar Series from Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon. This new variety is considerably improved over early white forms with large white daisy-like flowers with a striking golden-orange central cone, and petals that stand out horizontally rather than curving downward. This variety grows to a full 48 inches in height and is suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.Continue to 21 of 24 below.
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This is another of the Big Sky Series produced by crossing E. purpurea and E. paradoxa. This variety has deep golden yellow petals with large, striking orange cones. Like others in this series, Harvest Moon has a good tolerance for heat and humidity, and it blooms through the entire summer period. Harvest Moon grows as tall as 36 inches and thrives in the traditional coneflower climate range, USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Mango Meadowbrite has been around since 2004 but remains a favorite due to its unique shade of orange/tangerine blooms. This variety is one of the earliest blooming coneflowers, producing its unusual 3-inch wide flower in May through early summer. Unusual for coneflowers, Mango Meadowbrite has a spicy orange aroma. Mango Meadowbright grows 30 to 36 inches in height and is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Another unusual color is the Orange Meadowbrite echinacea variation also sold as Art's Pride. This variety was developed at the Chicago Botanical Garden in 2004 as a cross between Echinacea purpurea "Alba" and Echinacea paradoxa. Its continued popularity is due to its unique deep orange or coppery-orange petals surrounding dark brown central cones. This hybrid tops out at 36 inches in height and blooms from June to August. It is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
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Pixie Meadowbrite represents one of the best dwarf varieties. It grows no more than 18 inches in height and produces traditional-looking purple flowers in dense masses that are quite unusual for most coneflower varieties. Like the other Meadowbrite varieties, this one was developed at the Chicago Botanical Garden. Pixie Meadowbrite is suitable for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.