Everything You Need to Know About Coneflower Color Varieties
Coneflowers are some of the most vibrant and colorful American native wildflowers. These gorgeous tall flowers cover vast areas of prairie, swaying serenely in the breeze. Coneflowers come in several colors, from intense purple or pink to bright yellow, orange, red, and white. In this article, we’ll explore seven coneflower flower colors and some Echinacea varieties known for each color variety. We’ll also take a quick look at what each color might symbolize in the language of flowers.
Coneflower Flower Colors – The Essentials
Coneflowers come in 7 primary colors; purple, pink, orange, red, white, yellow, and green. Horticulturalists have cultivated several colorful varieties from natural species like the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Depending on the color, coneflowers can symbolize elegance, purity, and love.
Coneflowers are also known by the name of their genus, Echinacea. This genus contains ten species and is part of the daisy or sunflower family (Asteraceae). Echinacea is derived from the Greek word ‘ekhinos‘, meaning ‘sea urchin’ – which references the spiky central cones.
Coneflowers are indigenous to the central and eastern regions of the United States and Canada. These wildflowers are mainly found in large, open prairies but also grow in open forest margins. Many coneflower species are found across the Great Plains or the southeastern United States.
Echinacea species come in various colors, from purple and pink to orange, red, yellow, and white. Coneflowers have large flower heads featuring daisy-like petals that surround the central cone. These spiky cones contain several tiny reddish-brown or orange flowers that are rich in nectar.
Coneflowers produce their flowers on tall, upright stems reaching up to 4 feet high. Foliage is either lance-shaped or oval-shaped, and both the leaves and stems can be coated with fine hairs.
Coneflowers have adapted to survive in loose, nutrient-poor soils thanks to their long taproots. Coneflowers are hardy flowers that are easy to grow and make beautiful, low-maintenance additions to any garden. The showy blooms are extremely popular with pollinators and make excellent cut flowers.
Coneflowers are Low-Maintenance Plants
Coneflowers thrive in USDA Growing Zones 3 to 9. These herbaceous flowers need 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily, preferably in the morning. Coneflowers are drought-tolerant plants that can cope with infrequent watering, so they need well-draining soil to prevent them from becoming waterlogged. You can also deadhead coneflowers to control their spread and prolong the flowering season in addition to light fertilizing.
Coneflowers are also relatively easy to transplant and divide if you’re looking to expand your collection or relocate to a more suitable location.
These iconic wildflowers have been used by Native American societies as medicinal plants for centuries. Echinacea plants were used by Native Americans to treat burns, insect bites, toothaches, wounds, and colds. Coneflowers also bring several benefits to the garden, such as attracting predatory insects that help control garden pests.
Due to their associations with traditional medicine, coneflowers symbolize healing, health, and strength. Coneflowers blooms are a great gift to wish someone well if they’re ill. The Tennessee purple coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) is one of the state wildflowers for Tennessee.
7 Coneflower Color Varieties
Purple is one of the most common coneflower flower colors. The most well-known coneflower species is the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). This species has been used to create a vast range of cultivars covering all of the other coneflower flower colors.
Purple coneflower varieties come in several shades, such as the reddish-purple blooms of the sanguine purple coneflower (Echinacea sanguinea). The pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) has pale flowers combining purple and pink.
Like other purple flowers, purple coneflowers represent qualities like elegance, royalty, and love. Purple coneflower species and cultivars include:
- Echinacea purpurea ‘Bravado’ – Produces large purple-pink flowers that may be 4 or 5 inches wide. This cultivar keeps its petals upright instead of letting them droop like most other coneflowers.
- Echinacea laevigata – The smooth purple coneflower is an endangered species of coneflower native to eastern states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North and South Carolina. It has purple-pink flowers with reddish-purple central cones.
- Echinacea simulata – The wavy leaf purple coneflower has long, drooping purple petals that are quite spaced out on the flower head. This species is native to several eastern-central states such as Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri.
Pink is another common coneflower flower color, especially among cultivars derived from Echinacea purpurea. Pink coneflowers symbolize affection and familial, platonic, or romantic love. Some of the most popular pink coneflower varieties include:
- ‘Butterfly Kisses’ – Part of the beautiful ‘Cone-fections’ series, this variety produces pale pink double blooms. The dark pink central floret resembles a frilly pom-pom rather than a spiky cone.
- ‘Kim’s Knee High’ – This compact variety rarely grows above 2 feet tall. ‘Kim’s Knee High’ produces vivid pink flowers with drooping petals and ginger-brown central cones.
- ‘Pink Shimmer’ – ‘Pink Shimmer’ has stunning rosy-pink flowers with yellow-orange central cones. It grows up to 3 ft tall, with flowers reaching nearly 5 inches wide.
- ‘Razzmatazz’ – This is a striking cultivar bred in the Netherlands. ‘Razzmatazz’ has two sets of bright pink petals on each flower. The large central cone is surrounded by short petals, with another set of longer drooping petals underneath.
Some coneflower cultivars produce vibrant orange flowers that can bring some uplifting cheer to garden displays. Like other orange flowers, orange coneflowers can represent energy, enthusiasm, and joy. Orange coneflower varieties include cultivars like:
- ‘Flamethrower’ – These stunning coneflowers produce two-tone blooms that transition from dark orange to bright yellow towards the tips of the petals. The central cones are dark brown.
- ‘Kismet Intense Orange’ – ‘Kismet Intense Orange’ produces vibrant orange flowers that last longer than many other varieties. These petals surround dark brown central cones.
- ‘Marmalade’ – Another ‘Cone-fections’ cultivar, ‘Marmalade’, delights with its double orange blooms. The central pom-pom cone has dark orange flowers, while the outer petals are a paler shade.
The red coneflower cultivars are some of the most vibrant coneflowers available for gardeners. Red flowers symbolize beauty, passion, and romantic love, making red coneflowers a great gift for a partner or spouse. Cultivars include:
- ‘Firebird’ – This vibrant variety produces intense red-orange flowers with dark reddish-brown central cones.
- ‘Solar Flare’ – ‘Solar Flare’ dazzles with its purple stems bearing reddish-pink flowers that can reach up to 6 inches wide.
- ‘Sombrero Salsa Red’ – These compact coneflowers grow up to 2 feet tall and produce bright red flowers with brownish-orange central cones.
- ‘Tomato Soup’ – These richly colored coneflowers have showy red flowers that gradually fade to orange. ‘Tomato Soup’ specimens can grow up to 2.5 feet tall.
White flowers traditionally represent purity and innocence, especially as wedding flowers. Several white coneflower cultivars have been developed over the years from specimens of Echinacea purpurea. Popular white coneflower varieties include:
- ‘Alba’ – ‘Alba’ coneflowers grow up to 3 feet tall and truly convey the traditional shuttlecock shape of coneflowers. The pure white petals droop down severely from the yellowish-green central cones.
- ‘Fragrant Angel’ – This variety has one of the strongest scents of any coneflower cultivar. ‘Fragrant Angel’ has snowy white petals and a yellow-orange central cone.
- ‘White Swan’ – ‘White Swan’ coneflowers have elegant white petals and yellowish-green central cones. These coneflowers can grow up to 3 feet tall.
Aside from purple-pink, yellow is the only other color shown by wild coneflowers. Yellow coneflowers can symbolize abundance, happiness, and joy. Yellow coneflower cultivars and species include:
- Echinacea paradoxa – The yellow coneflower is a wild species native to parts of Arkansas and Missouri. Yellow coneflowers can grow up to 3 feet tall with yellow petals surrounding reddish-brown central cones.
- ‘Daydream’ – This fragrant cultivar is derived from Echinacea purpurea. ‘Daydream’ dazzles with its bright yellow flowers and brownish-orange cones.
- ‘Sunrise’ – Part of the ‘Big Sky’ series, ‘Sunrise’ produces huge lemon-yellow flowers that can reach up to 4.5 inches wide. This cultivar has orange central cones and a noticeable fragrance.
A few coneflower varieties have been bred from Echinacea purpurea to produce various shades of green blooms. Green flowers represent qualities like rebirth, renewal, and regeneration. Some of the most popular green coneflower varieties include:
- ‘Green Envy’ – ‘Green Envy’ is a dramatic coneflower cultivar with lime-green petals that turn pink closer to the central cone. The cone itself changes in color from light green to dark purple.
- ‘Green Jewel’ – This cultivar produces large bright green flower heads that can measure up to 4.5 inches wide. ‘Green Jewel’ is a fairly compact coneflower that grows up to 2.5 feet tall.
- ‘Greenline’ – Another cultivar that produces double flowers, ‘Greenline’ has light green pom-pom central cones with short white petals with green margins.
Coneflowers come in a wide range of fabulous colors, such as purple, pink, orange, red, yellow, white, and green. Purple, pink, and yellow varieties occur naturally. Cultivars with orange, red, white, and green flowers are usually derived from the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Some of these varieties produce dramatic double flowers with pom-pom-like central cones.