[Image: Pow Wow White coneflower]
One of the most popular herbaceous perennials in Louisiana is the purple coneflower. The scientific name of this plant is Echinacea purpurea. It is native to a geographic area from the Midwest into the Southeastern United States.
Purple coneflowers are drought-tolerant, tough, and long-lived. Flowering usually starts in late April or early May. You can get good re-bloom on most coneflowers through summer and fall. Fall is a great time to add coneflowers to the landscape.
Flower petals in coneflowers have typically been in the soft lavender to purple color ranges. Now white forms are available. Magnus is a popular variety that was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1998. This selection has vibrant, rose-purple flowers. Bravado is a variety with 4- to 5-inch fragrant flowers. White Swan is a white-flowering form. A new seed-propagated series of coneflowers, the Pow Wow variety available in White and Wild Berry, are now popular and are All-America Selection winners.
What can you do to help coneflowers perform ideally? These plants prefer a mostly sunny location with well-drained soil. You can buy coneflowers at the garden center in 4-inch pots, quarts or gallon containers. A light application of a slow-release fertilizer is recommended at planting and once or twice annually thereafter. Mulch with pine straw or a similar material. Remove old flowers to encourage faster re-bloom. Coneflowers are reliably perennial in Louisiana.
Coneflowers have long been favorites with gardeners across the South. Use them in a perennial planting with buddleia, rudbeckias, salvia, coreopsis, lantanas, Shasta daisies, verbenas or other hardy favorites. Butterflies love purple coneflowers.
Late summer through fall is a great time to add new flowering perennials to your landscape. The new selections in this old garden plant are making it highly desired for our Louisiana landscapes.