Plant a Coneflower Rainbow

Coneflower Rainbow

Perennials in every color of the rainbow...

Whether you choose a gentle gradation of colorful petals or you stick closely to the color bands of an actual rainbow (outside to inside arch: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet), the rays of the coneflower or Echinacea, will attract butterflies in all colors. Plant once...in multiples...and enjoy this natural spectacle for years to come.


RED: Echinacea ‘Tomato Soup’: Tomato-red petals with a yellow-brown center cone.
Mature Size: 3-4 ft. tall with well-branched stems that don’t need staking.
Bloom time: June to August
Light: Full sun to part shade…best in full sun.
Water: Dry to medium Soil: average, well-drained soil
Reasons to love it: Tolerates drought, heat, dry soil, deer and humidity. Attracts butterflies and birds.

ORANGE: Echinacea ‘Flame Thrower: Wide petals of deep orange-red with deeper red at the base of the flame-red cone.
Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall and 2.5 ft.wide
Bloom time: July through September
Light: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium Soil: average, well-drained soil
Reasons to love it: If planted in garden, coneflowers requires only occasional watering, once established, but regular watering if in a container. Enjoy a long bloom season that will attract hummingbirds.

YELLOW: Echinacea ‘Maui Sunshine’: Large, sunshine-yellow petals that are sweetly scented. Showy orange cones contrast well on green backgrounds. Mature petals turn a softer, yellow color.
Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide
Bloom time: July to September
Light: Full sun
Water: average Soil: average, well-drained soil
Reasons to love it: Drought tolerant, fragrant, deer resistant, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds

GREEN: Echinacea ‘Green Jewel’: Light green petals with dark green cone
Mature Size: 1.5 to 2 ft. ft. tall and spreads up to 1.5 ft. wide
Bloom time: June to August
Light: Full sun to part shade Water: dry to medium
Soil: average, well-drained soil…tolerates poor soil.
Reasons to love it: Fragrant, cut flowers. Drought and clay soil tolerant. If flowerheads are not removed, the dried cones will attract goldfinches or other birds in fall and winter.

BLUE: No blue coneflowers... yet! If you would like to continue the rainbow with an arch of blue, substitute coneflowers for Russian Sage* or a taller Catmint (Nepeta). 

*Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): Feathery, lavender-blue spires and silver-green foliage make this sunny border perennial a favorite.
Mature Size: 24- to 48-inches, depending on the variety.
Light: full sun.
Water: Dry to medium
Soil: Well-drained soil
Bloom time: July through September.
Green thumbs up: Deer, rabbit and drought resistant. Butterflies love them.

INDIGO: Echinacea ‘Fatal Attraction’: Large blooms with flat, upright petals in deep magenta-purple surrounding a dark cone. Red stems stand out from deep-green foliage.
Mature Size: 23-25 in. tall; 18-23 in. wide
Bloom time: Mid-summer to mid-fall.
Light: Full sun or partial shade.
Water: dry, medium or moist
Soil: average, well-drained soil…tolerates sandy or clay soil.
Reasons to love it: Large, fragrant, cut flowers attract butterflies. If flower heads are not removed, the dried cones will attract goldfinches or other birds in fall and winter. Deer resistant.

VIOLET: Echinacea ‘PowWow Wildberry’: Brilliant rose-purple petals circle an orange-brown cone.
Mature Size: 20-24 in. tall; 16-18 in. wide
Bloom time: Late June until frost
Light: Grows best in full sun but will tolerate light shade Water: dry or medium. Deep taproots allow these plants to become drought tolerant as they mature.
Soil: Adaptable to most soil types but prefers a sandy, well-drained soil.
Reasons to love it: Low maintenance, long blooming and drought tolerant plant. Apply manure/compost in spring and no further fertilizing is necessary. Allow flower heads to stand into the fall and offer seeds for goldfinches in fall and winter. Deer resistant.
Tip: Cut back plants by half in June. This will result in later-flowering and more compact growth.