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Purple Coneflower: Echinacea purpurea compositae

  By Judy Feather, Colorado Master GardenerSM, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver County

Purple coneflower is like a black-eyed Susan in a different color dress.

Similar to rudbeckia flowers, purple coneflowers are large daisy-like flowers with dark beehive centers. The petals, though, are rosy purple instead of yellow. Other colors to look for are pink, rosy red, and white. The petals of these 4-inch flowers typically bend downward from the center, which gives them a windswept look. The plants grow in clumps, with sparsely leafed flowering stems. The leaves have fine sandpapery surfaces.

Purple coneflowers are carefree plants. Grow them in a sunny spot in well-drained soil, or even in part shade in hot-summer regions. Plants are drought tolerant but prefer moderate watering. In addition to being a beautiful addition to the perennial garden, coneflowers are favored by bees, butterflies, and small insects. Companion plants that have similar sun and water needs are Achillea, Gypsophila paniculata (Baby’s breath), Papaver orientale (Oriental poppy), and Rudbeckia.

Purple coneflower is also known for its herbal properties. Extracts from its roots are said to strengthen the immune system, and its essential oils are insecticidal and bactericidal.

Plant purple coneflower and enjoy a beautiful perennial.

Photograph courtesy of Judy Feather.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010