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The Coneflower Daisy

Because of the plant’s spiny central disk, the coneflower daisy is derived from the Greek word ἐχῖνος (ekhinos), meaning “sea urchin.” The coneflower daisy comes in a variety of vibrant colors and can play several different roles in a garden, depending on your needs.

Closeup of purple coneflower daisy flowers.

If you don’t know much about the coneflower daisy, then keep reading to learn more. You might even want to save some space for this plant in your garden!

History of the Coneflower Daisy

The Echinacea coneflower plant was discovered by European colonists in the 17th century. It was widely used during the 18th and 19th centuries to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, as well as diphtheria. Echinacea is still popular in the 21st century, with people using pills, extracts, ointments, tablets, or tinctures of the entire plant. Clinical trials are mixed on the effectiveness of the coneflower plant to treat illnesses, though.

During Victorian times the coneflower daisy was called ‘bachelor’s buttons’ because the flowers were frequently placed in the button holes of men’s suit coats.

Characteristics of the Coneflower

These perennial upright plants, which can stand between two to four feet tall, are native to the eastern United States. They are found only in eastern and central North America, from Iowa and Ohio south to Louisiana and Georgia.

White coneflower daisy flowers.

There are three genera that coneflowers fall into: Echinacea, Ratibida, and Rudbeckia. All coneflowers, regardless of the genus, have a cone-shaped central disk surrounded by ray flower petals that come in a plethora of colors, including pinkish-purple, yellow, blue, white, orange, red, pink, and peach.

Echinacea

Echinacea coneflowers are the most well-known because they can be used medicinally to stimulate the immune system during colds, upper respiratory tract infections, and the flu.

Purple echinacea coneflowers.

On top of that, they’re also edible. Echinacea can be used to make tea, and the leaves and flower petals can be eaten as well.

Ratibida

The yellow-petaled prairie coneflower daisy is the most popular member of the Ratibida coneflower genus.

Multicolored ratibida prairie coneflowers.

Rudbeckia

If you know anything about sunflowers, you won’t be surprised to know that the coneflowers in the Rudbeckia genus all have yellow petals with brown or black centers. This is where you’ll find the black-eyed Susan coneflower.

Rudbeckia coneflowers.

Symbolism

Coneflowers are associated with healing – depending on their genus – and strength because of their medicinal properties. In Estonia, the blue coneflower has been the national flower since 1969. To Estonians, the coneflower symbolizes daily bread.

The blue coneflower was chosen to symbolize ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — because it is a hardy, sturdy wildflower despite appearing to be fragile.

Growing a Coneflower Daisy in Your Garden

Coneflower daisies germinate in only seven to ten days. The plants do better when they’re slightly crowded in the garden bed.

Landscaping uses

The purple coneflower is probably more useful to pollinators than many other flowers. It makes great cut flowers, and is perfect as part of an herbal garden. You can also decorate your walkway or create a garden in the area between your sidewalk and the street with the coneflower daisy’s vibrant colors.

Two different colors of pink coneflowers.

Soil

A coneflower daisy requires well-drained garden soil. If the soil is acidic, you can crush limestone into the garden beds. It requires very little care and produces several flowers per stem.

Coneflowers don’t even require much fertilizer. The plants can be fertilized once a year. Just be sure to plant them in an area where they’ll receive a lot of light.

Where to Plant Them

Coneflowers typically thrive in the warmth of the full sun. However, some tolerate partial shade. A coneflower daisy should be planted in areas that receive six to eight hours of sunlight per day.

Closeup of a peach-colored coneflower daisy flower.

If coneflowers grow in too much shade, it can result in floppy stems, and the foliage becomes susceptible to mildew, which invites disease into your garden.

They can be planted in pots as well as the ground.

When to Plant Them

The seeds of this popular perennial germinate readily when sown directly in the garden bed in early to mid-spring.

Bloom Time

Coneflowers bloom in early summer. They are prolific bloomers, and stay in bloom for two months, during which time they attract visitors such as butterflies, bees, and birds to your garden. If you deadhead (remove the dead flowers from the living plants) the flowers, it keeps them in bloom all summer long.

White and purple coneflowers.

Pests

Even though they are usually pest-proof, Japanese beetles can attack the purple coneflower.

Companion plants

Although coneflowers look incredibly beautiful on their own, other plants can complement them in the garden.

Some of the companion plants for coneflowers include:

  • Beardtongue
  • Coreopsis
  • Goat’s beard
  • Russian Sage
  • Ornamental Oregano
  • Phlox
  • Lavender
  • Cardinal flower
  • Gentian
  • American basket flower
  • Bee balm
  • African daisies
Lavender African daisies.
African daisies.

Where Can You Buy the Coneflower Daisy?

Coneflower daisies are popular and widely available. You can order coneflower seeds online to grow them from seeds instead of buying the plants.

They are also available at your local nurseries or gardening stores. Chain stores sell them, too, including Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and others. You’ll find coneflower daisies with the other perennial garden plants.

Purple coneflowers are probably the most popular, and they are easy to find. These varieties can reach heights of 5 feet with a spread of 2 feet wide.

Different Varieties of the Coneflower Daisy

With over 20,000 species, one of the most popular daisy types is the coneflower plant. Coneflower daisies have ten distinct species of naturally occurring echinacea. However, the horticultural industry created countless hybrids.

Creating Bouquets and Decorating With the Coneflower Daisy

The stunning wildflower is an exceptional choice for bouquets, and the blue coneflower daisy could be that something blue for a bride at her wedding.

The coneflower daisy’s different colors make it a perfect choice to combine with some of its companion plants to create a beautiful mixed floral design for a decorative vase.

An informal arrangement of garden flowers including two pink coneflower daisies.

Are Coneflowers Really Daisies?

Coneflowers are members of the Asteraceae or Compositae family which means they’re in the daisy family.

Black-eyed daisies, for example, can also be called Black-eyed Susans or coneflowers; however, they should not be confused with the perennial Echinacea coneflower.

So Many Ways to Enjoy the Coneflower Daisy in Your Garden

With it’s unusual shape and lovely color palette, you might tempted to think of a coneflower daisy as just another specimen for a flower garden. But coneflowers are a symbol of healing and strength for a reason and there’s more to them than just a pretty face!

Closeup of a yellow coneflower daisy.

They can be used as herbal tea remedies for numerous ailments and for the adventurous culinary types, the all parts of the plant are edible as well.

Their glorious shades of pinkish-purple, yellow, blue, white, orange, red, pink, and peach can decorate your garden, or make amazing floral arrangements. These lovely perennials only require the basics in care, and can very easily be taken care of by gardeners of all experience levels. For all that they offer, the coneflower daisy ask very little of us in return.

It’s as if there’s no downside to adding coneflower daisies to your garden.

To learn more about other flowers in the daisy family, read our dasies blog posts.