Are Coneflowers Annual, Biennial, or Perennial Plants?

Thinking of planting coneflowers in your garden, but want to make sure they'll return each year? In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago examines the lifecycle of the coneflower, and if they are considered annual, biennial, or perennial plants.

coneflowers annual or perennial

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When you are planning a garden, lots of thought goes into choosing the correct plants for your space. You could be focused on one color or a specific style. Typically gardeners like to have something blooming in their gardens at each point in the growing season. This often requires the addition of annuals into your perennial gardens.

So what about coneflowers? Coneflowers have brightly colored daisy-like flowers that can fill sunny gardens in a short period of time. Will they return each year, or do you need to purchase and replant more coneflowers next year?

Have you decided to add coneflowers to your garden but want to know more about their growth habits and how to take care of them? Let’s learn a little more about coneflowers and whether they are considered annual, biennial, or perennial plants. You’ll also learn how you can incorporate them into your gardens. Let’s dig in!

The Quick Answer

Coneflowers or Echinacea purpurea and other species of the Echinacea genus are considered herbaceous perennials. This means you plant them once. After blooming, they will go dormant in the winter and will return in the spring.

There are ten main coneflower species with countless varieties. Coneflowers gained popularity for their purple, pink, and white varieties. This perennial has also been hybridized for color, and you can now find coneflowers in almost every color under the sun.

Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials

Close-up of flowering Echinacea plants in a sunny garden. The plant has many tall, slender stems at the tops of which grow large, daisy-like flowers with copper-colored central cones surrounded by pink-purple ray-shaped petals.
Annual plants only live for one growing season, and perennials come back each year and usually last at least five years.

To fully understand what it means for a plant to be a perennial, it is good to know about the other categories of plants and about their life cycles.

Annual

Annual plants will typically live for just one growing season. Depending on the plant, they will either die off in extreme heat or after the frost hits. These plants, such as geraniums or petunias, tend to be more showy and come in various bright colors across many species. Some perennial plants are treated as annuals, depending on the climate.

Biennial

Biennials last for two growing seasons. They will typically flower during both seasons and produce their seed in the second season. An example of a popular biennial would be Delphinium.

Perennial

Perennials come back each year and are the backbone of the garden. These plants may not live forever, but they are worth the investment and usually last at least five years. Catmint and hosta are perennials.

Hardiness Zones

Close-up of a small butterfly on a flowering Coneflower plant. The butterfly has dark orange wings with a black and brown pattern. The flowers are large and consist of central convex copper-brown cones and long petals of pale purple.
Coneflowers are highly adaptable perennials that can thrive in a wide range of zones.

Coneflowers have a broad hardness range. These perennials are hardy from zones 3-8. These plants are very resilient and can tolerate both heat and moderate temperatures very nicely.

Growing Coneflower

Close-up of many blooming Coneflowers in a sunny garden against a green background. The plant has vertical thin stems with large daisy-like flowers. The flowers have large central cones of copper color, surrounded by elongated oval narrow petals of bright pink-lilac color.
Plant colorful perennials like coneflowers in full sun and well-draining soil, preferably in spring or fall.

Growing these brightly colored perennials in your garden is very simple. These colorful perennials love to be planted in full sun and in well-draining soil. Full sun is six hours of sun or more, and well-draining soil can retain moisture without becoming swampy.

Plant in the spring or the fall when the soil is easy to work with and the temperatures are warm but not hot. If you plant in the middle of the summer, you run the risk of your coneflower suffering from transplant shock.

Adding mulch to your garden can help the coneflowers to retain moisture. These natives are relatively drought resistant once they have established themselves in your garden, which can take up to a year.

Coneflowers will benefit from a spring application of fertilizer. They do not require any special type of fertilizer. A basic formula such as Espoma Plant-tone will work perfectly. Whichever fertilizer you choose, follow the label instructions to ensure your plants are getting just the right amount.

These beautiful perennials bloom early in the season and will flower well into fall, but all good things must come to an end. Deadhead the spent flowers of your coneflowers to encourage more blooming and also to stop the seeds from self-sowing into your garden. They can also benefit from the occasional light pruning. When the season winds down, cut the stems and leaves of the plant to within a few inches of the ground.

Annual Look-alikes

If you love the look of coneflower but don’t live in the best areas to grow it as a perennial, or maybe you don’t want to invest time in perennials and want to add some brightly colored flowers to your containers or window boxes, here are a few ideas for you!

African Daisy

Close-up of blooming African daisies in the garden. The flowers are large, bright purple, with a prominent central disc surrounded by colorful petals. The leaves are light green in color and have deep lobes.
The African Daisy is a brightly colored annual plant that is native to South Africa.

Cosmos

Close-up of flowering Cosmos plants in a sunny garden. The flowers of the Kosmos plant are similar in appearance to daisies, with a prominent disk in the center of bright yellow and petals of various colors, including pink, white and red-pink. The leaves are pinnate and finely divided, lending an airiness and tenderness to the overall appearance of the plant.
Cosmos is a tall and colorful annual plant that produces large and showy flowers in shades of pink, red, white, and purple.
  • Varieties are hardy in zones 2-11, but all grow well as annuals
  • Thrives in the full sun
  • Continually blooms from summer through fall
  • The ‘Sea Shells’ series is a pretty pink combination that instantly beautifies your garden!

Gerbera Daisy

Close-up of blooming Gerbera Daisies in a sunny garden. Gerberas have vibrant, daisy-like flowers in a variety of colors including orange, red, and pink, with a prominent central disc surrounded by colorful petals.
The Gerbera Daisy is a popular perennial flower known for its large, colorful blooms and vibrant petals.
  • Hardy in zones 8-10 and grows as an annual in other zones
  • Will grow happily in full to partial sun
  • Blooms in summer through the fall
  • Try the light pink variety ‘Garvinea Classic Jasmina’

Strawflower

Close-up of blooming Strawflowers in a sunny garden. Medium sized, papery, rounded flowers with raised yellow central discs surrounded by double short petals in various shades of pink, yellow and red with a unique texture.
The Strawflower is a unique annual plant that showcases long-lasting, papery flowers in vibrant colors.
  • Hardy in zones 8-10, annual elsewhere
  • Grows best in full to partial sun
  • Blooms in the Spring, Summer, and Fall
  • Try ‘Cottage Bronze’ for an orange alternative

Sunflower

Close-up of blooming sunflowers in a sunny garden. The flowers are large, consisting of a dark central disk surrounded by bright yellow petals. The leaves are broad, green and rough.
Sunflowers are iconic annual plants known for their large, bright yellow flowers with a prominent dark center.

Zinnia

Close-up of flowering zinnia plants in a sunny garden. The flowers are medium-sized, daisy-like, with a central disk of small tubular flowers surrounded by oblong oval petals in various shades of red, pink. orange and white. The leaves are lance-shaped and green
The Zinnia is a popular annual plant that showcases bright and colorful flowers with a daisy-like shape.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have covered that coneflowers are considered perennial plants in most hardiness zones, I’m sure you’ll be able to find plenty of places for them in your garden. To know a coneflower is to love a coneflower. With little effort from you, your gardens can be filled with beautiful, brightly colored flowers in no time and for many years to come.

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