Zone: 3 to 8
Soil: Sand to clay
Light: Full sun to part sun
Bloom colour: Purple, yellow, red, white
Bloom period: 8 weeks from mid-summer
Height: Up to 60 inches
Moisture: Dry to medium
Attracts: A large variety of bees and butterflies including Monarchs. The flowerheads provide seeds for birds if left.
Notes: Echinacea should be present in every wildlife garden and it is one of the easiest plants to grow. In addition to their wildlife value, they add great appeal to a garden with their large long-blooming flowers. They can be used as specimen plants or en masse. In larger gardens, Echinacea is often planted next to Rudbeckia. Deadheading helps to keep the flowers blooming, but leave the flowerheads alone in September so that they can provide seeds for birds.
Most varieties of Echinacea sold in nurseries come from native species. These include Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea angustifolia. Echinacea paradoxa and Echinacea tennesseensis are native to the USA. Echinacea paradoxa is actually yellow and has led to many hybrids in that colour range.
There have been so many cultivars produced now, that you could have a bed just of Echinacea with a full range of colour from yellow to red and white to purple. However, if you want the best blooms and the strongest pollinator attractors, then stick to the older purple cultivars and avoid double flower varieties.
Pixie Meadowbrite is a rather short cultivar that is good at the front of the border or in a rock garden.
For Ontarians that want to stay strictly native in their gardens, there is Echinacea pallida that blooms a few weeks earlier than the more commonly available Echinacea purpurea. While it is not as impressive as the latter species, it is attractive to bees and planting it extends the Echinacea bloom season in the garden.