Landgarten von Jutta und Michael Bongers am Niederrhein


The coneflower, also called hedgehog heads or sun hats in German, are a genus of plants from the large family of the daisy family. I personally find the English name coneflower very appropriate. The botanical name Echinacea – from the ancient Greek echinos for sea urchin – refers to the striking, spiky chaff leaves that tower above the colored tubular flowers. The origin of all Echinacea is in North America.


Here is an overview of the nine known subspecies:

• Echinacea angustifolia – Narrow-leaved coneflower
• Echinacea atrorubens – Topeka purple coneflower
• Echinacea laevigata – Smooth sun hat
• Echinacea paradoxa – Yellow coneflower
• Echinacea pallida – Prairie hedgehog head
• Echinacea purpurea – Purple coneflower
• Echinacea sanguinea – Sanguine purple coneflower
• Echinacea simulata – Light sun hat
• Echinacea tennesseensis – Tennessee sun hat


The best-known representative of this genus is Echinacea purpurea. Originally with purple flowers used as a medicinal plant for colds. Over the past 10-20 years, a multitude of breeders have crossed and bred countless new strains. The color palette ranges from pink, yellow, white, purple to red.
Therefore, a little caution is required for those who want long-lasting mock sun hats in the garden. Most of the new varieties are extremely attractive, but not all of them are long-lasting in the perennial beds. Echinacea purpurea in particular has a shallow root system, which can be problematic in dry locations. All other species have a long taproot.



We have experimented with a few species and varieties in our garden over the past few years and there are a good variety of them. “Natural species” such as angustifolia, pallida and paradoxa get along very well with us and reliably come back every year. And with Echinacea purpurea we have now found a nice selection of up to 10 varieties.

Recommendations & gardening tips:

• Location: Sunny and not too dry
• Set natural species individually, because they are higher and more filigree
• Place Echinacea purpurea and hybrids in groups and never too close to neighbors with strong roots, such as asters, water fishes, miscanthus. These Echinacea need space for their shallow roots!
• I find filled varieties more susceptible than unfilled ones.
• Plant in summer.


Other representatives of the sunflower family:

• Heliopsis – sun eye
• Helianthus – sunflower
• Aster – aster
• Helenium – sun bride
• Rudbeckia – sun hat


The coneflower bring color into the bed from July and are real magnets for bees, bumblebees and butterflies. Their seed heads are still attractive and birds like to eat them in winter.

To everyone a pleasant Sunday

Uedemerbruch, November 14, 2021