Pale Purple Coneflower
Discover the fragrant side of coneflowers in this native bloomer.
Pale purple coneflower features long and narrow, fragrant petals that dangle from its spiky center. Image courtesy of HGTV Gardens user GAKelley
Give your garden a dose of pure flower power by planting pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida). This native North American wildflower pumps out the blossoms from early to late summer in most of the country. Flowers have a wild meadow look that blends gracefully into perennial plantings or naturalized prairie gardens.
Pale purple coneflower is a cousin to purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), the most well-known member of the coneflower family. Like its purple relative, pale purple coneflower opens blooms with a spiky center in shades of copper, orange and bronze. The cone stands above petals that dangle downward, just like purple coneflower petals do.
Unlike purple coneflower, the petals on pale purple coneflower have varying width, with some being narrow and almost stringy in appearance, while others are twice as wide. All told, pale purple coneflower petals are much narrower than those of purple coneflower. The narrow petals create a fringe effect. In a mass planting, it’s charming and gives blooms a sense of movement when breezes blow.
The petals also display some color differences from purple coneflower. In pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), flower petals may be deep rose-purple to pale pink. In a mass planting, the color shading gives the scene the feel of an Impressionist painting, with subtle variations in hue.
Pale purple coneflower starts flowering two to four weeks earlier than purple coneflower. In the garden, with consistent deadheading, a single plant may produce up to two dozen flowers over the course of eight weeks. This is the coneflower for cutting gardens. It yields more than enough stems to grace indoor settings with bouquets. The flowers also have a light fragrance.
In the garden, pale purple coneflower grows 24 to 36 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide. The narrow clump it forms works well in both smaller garden areas and traditional perennial borders. For best effect and impact, plant pale purple coneflower in clumps of three. Like other coneflowers, Echincaea pallida prefers full sun but does flower—although not as prolifically—in part shade.
The flower stems extend from 24 to 36 inches, but are quite sturdy and don’t need staking. They stand up to summer storms without missing a blooming beat. Count on pale purple coneflower to thrive in tough growing conditions, like where soil is rocky or shallow. They also grow in clay soil. Plants are drought-tolerant once established.
Choose this coneflower for rain gardens, wildflower gardens or cutting gardens. Pale purple coneflower also makes a great addition to wildlife gardens. The blooms attract butterflies and other pollinators, while seedheads lure flocks of birds. One critter that won’t mess with pale purple coneflower is deer.