Grow Echinacea for Cut Flowers and Pollinators

several Ecinacea 'Ruby Star'' flowers in dry garden
Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ flowers in dry garden

Purple echinacea, purple coneflower, coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Home » Grow Echinacea for Cut Flowers and Pollinators

Echinacea plants are native eastern to central North America and are becoming more popular in landscapes and flower gardens. That’s because they’re one of the low-water plants that many people need now that more areas are having more bouts with drought. In addition, Echinacea flowers tend to be deer resistant..

Along with their popularity, Echinaceas have been showing up in a wider array of colors. These colors add cheerful, colorful daisies to flower arrangements and bouquets.  

Their wide display of petals with a spiky cone in the center provide a perfect landing platform for pollinators like bees, butterflies, and moths. The cones can remain on the plant through fall for the birds to feed on their seeds.

Pink daisy-like flower with a spiky center in gold and brown
‘Primmadonna’ Echinacea with a bee gathering nectar

Echinacea flowers and plants

Echinaceas are in the Asteracae family, which is the daisy family. The flowers are comprised of a spiky cone in the center with colored rays of petals surrounding. The species, Echinacea purpurea, is a pale pinkish-purple. But there has been a lot of plant breeding, especially over the past decade, that has created a huge variety of petal colors and even some doubles and semi-doubles. (But it’s the singles that are best used by the pollinators.)

Flowers are to 4-6” wide. They bloom in early summer where I live, and again in fall if spent flower stems are cut back.

The plants are perennial and deciduous, growing to 1’ or wider and less than 1’ tall. Flowering stems reach 2-4’, depending on the variety. The foliage remains close to the ground in a clump.

Be careful in the winter, the plants disappear. I leave dead stems sticking up to help me locate them. The dead stems may be used by little native bees for nesting their young.  In late winter to early spring you can find some growing tips emerging.

How to grow Echinacea flowers

Zone 4; Full sun; Water moderately once established.

You can plant these as plants. Or you can start them from seed in seed trays. Many seedlings will bloom before the end of the first season.

They tolerate a range of soils: clay, shallow, or rocky. So you can put yours in spots that aren’t too  well-amended. Or you can put them in your good soil, just let them dry out between waterings.

You may see advice to refrigerate the seeds before starting them. I find it’s just as effective to skip the refrigerator and sow the seeds in my seeding trays and leave them outside in the cool weather.

They tolerate a range of soils: clay, shallow, or rocky. So you can put yours in spots that aren’t too  well-amended. Or you can put them in your good soil, just let them dry out between waterings.

'Ruby Star' Echinacea, strong pink petals surround the dark spiky center
Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’

How to harvest Echinacea flowers

They all make striking cut flowers. Echinaceas have a fairly long window for harvesting the flowers. When the petals are fully unfurled until the first row of anthers display the pollen is a good time. They should be cut down at the base and placed into cool or slightly warm water and stored in a cool, dark place. If stems are longer than you need, cut them down to size to make it easier on them. (See more here.)

Since I’ve grown many of them, I’ve had some problems with wilting petals soon after harvesting. Even with harvesting the right way. If you encounter this problem, simply pull the flowers out of their arrangement and cut a little more of the stem off, ½ to 1 inch, and put it back in. This should remove any blocked water vessels in the stem.

The cones, when dried, are bold and pretty in dried arrangements. For dried use, they should be picked as soon as they dry in the garden. If left too long they’ll get gray and deteriorate from rain and weather.

But, if left through fall, many birds like their seeds. So leave some for the birds! And the stems for tiny bee’s nests.

Bright yellow Echinacea flowers with one tiny native bee on it
Yellow Echinacea has a tiny native bee on it. All teh antive pollinators are very important as pollinators. They are more efficient and work longer hours than honeybees.

Favorite varieties of Echinacea flowers

One of my favorite purple Echinaceas is ‘Primadonna’, with an even array of pale purple petals that stick straight out for a pretty display. Flowers are 4-6” wide and stems grow to 30-34”. These are available from both specialty seed companies and online nurseries (see Sources below.).

Another is a new introduction, ‘Raspberry Kismet’. It’s a deep raspberry color. It’s beautiful!

The next is ‘Ruby Star’, a deeper, redder purple with stems to 40-42” tall! These are available by seed, from Select Seeds and from online nurseries like I mention below.

‘Tomato Soup’ is a brilliant red one that grows 28-32” tall. Only available by plants, and often found in local nurseries.

The ‘Big Sun’ series is a beautiful collection of colors including soft yellow ‘Sunrise’, soft orange ‘Sundown’, and rose-orange-red ‘Twilight’, all between 24-30” tall. These and many, many others are available from

For white, one of the common ones is ‘Magnus White’ which is a shorter plant but widely available in local nurseries. As is the ‘Magnus’ purple one. Both are nice as cuts and landscape plants.

There’s also ‘Primadonna White’ available by seed that I’ve been meaning to try one day.

There are a lot of the ‘Cheyenne’ variety filling the nursery shelves and seed packet shelves, too. They come in a large variety of colors. The only thing I don’t like about them is that they’re a shorter variety. The shorter stems are great for little arrangements and especially table top arrangements where you want to se the people across the table from you. So they’re good. But I’m partial to long stems that can mix with flowers like Alstroemerias.

But see Special Info below for another aspect for selecting your flowers.

Orange Echinacea flowers
Echinacea purpurea ‘Sundown’

Sources for Echinacea plants and seeds


GrowJoy has a large selection of Echinacea plants

Bluestone Perennials also has a huge selection of Echinacea plants


Swallowtail Seeds has a very good selection of varieties, including ‘Primadonna Deep Rose’, ‘Primadonna White’, and the beautiful ‘Ruby Star’

Select Seeds has the ‘Ruby Star’ and a few others

Special Info on Echinacea flowers

Echinacea is loved by humans and a wide variety of pollinators. Flowers that allow easy access to the nectar and pollen are the best for pollinators. And that’s what Echinacea flowers offer.

But there are more and more semi-double and fully double Echinacea’s being offered. These types of flowers make it impossible for most pollinators to access the food they’re looking for.

So I never grow these. I recommend sticking with the simple daisy structure so pollinators benefit, too. But some semi-doubles so have their nectar/pollen discs exposed, so they will help pollinators.

Flowers to go with Echinacea flowers

Bright red flower that looks like a fireworks show

Bee Balm

Tall-stemmed flowers that look like fireworks in a bouquet. Come in a variety of colors.

Alstroemeria flowers in a variety of pinks


These tall flowers bloom from early spring through fall, so they’re ready when the Echinaceas bloom.

Mixed bouquet of flowers with silvery-grey foliage, in a white pitcher


This foliage bouquet filler has silvery leaves to add fullness to flower arrangements, fresh and dried.

2 orange Gomphrena flowers on the plant


These colorful little ball-shaped flowers are a perfect foil for the wide, flat Echinaceas.

Bouquet of pink and white flowers with white Ammobium as a filler.


This makes a great bouquet filler for fresh and dried arrangements.

Purple statice flowers with a butterfly on them

Annual Statice

Statice is the best bouquet filler. Easy to grow and bloom through out the warm season.

Small bouquet with pink Alstroemerias, and dark pink Echinaceas
E. purpurea ‘Raspberry Kismet’ in a bouquet with Alstroemerias, bee balm, and Artemisia