Echinacea purpurea is another wildflower native to the United States that has been extensively hybridized in recent years. This robust perennial with the common name Purple Coneflower is anything but purple anymore! Incredible new colors can be found at Viette Nurseries. These beautiful new cultivars retain all the outstanding characteristics of their vigorous wild ancestors, being tough, long-lived, long blooming, and drought resistant.
Coneflowers have interesting shuttlecock-shaped blooms with bristly orange-bronze central cones that provide wonderful landing pads for butterflies. The sturdy stems never need staking and the vibrant blooms make long-lasting cut flowers for fresh and dried arrangements. Coarse, dark green foliage maintains a compact, clumping form that typically spreads to 18” to 24” wide. The blooms, which are irresistible to butterflies, begin in early summer and continue to frost. Coneflowers grow best in full sun or light shade in average soil and are excellent for naturalizing.
The gorgeous new ‘Big Sky Sundown’ displays vivid electric orange petals with a bold rusty central cone providing dazzling color from midsummer to frost. Another new orange cultivar is the large flowered ‘Tiki Torch’. These bright orange coneflowers are irresistible to butterflies and gardeners! Combine these with the bright yellow blooms of Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sunrise’ and your summer garden will never be more vibrant.
If you are interested in more traditional purple coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ is a great choice for the sunny garden. This beautiful purple cultivar was the Perennial Plant Association ‘Plant of the Year’ in 1998 and is still one of the most popular perennials sold today. ‘Kim’s Knee High’ is another purple form with vivid magenta petals and a deep rusty center. This cultivar is somewhat shorter than other coneflowers growing to an average of only 20” tall compared to the more typical height of 30” to 36”. The beautiful white form, Echinacea ‘White Swan’ has drooping white petals and a brown central cone.
All of these wonderful coneflowers are excellent for attracting butterflies.