Do Coneflowers Need Full Sun, Partial Shade, or Full Shade?

Are you unsure of what type of sunlight your coneflowers need? Understanding their sunlight requirements may help determine where you plant them. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago walks through how much sunlight coneflowers actually need for recurring blooms all season long.

coneflowers full sun


Brightly blooming coneflowers are quintessential to a summertime garden. They keep the bees buzzing, while also filling our gardens with a variety of different beautifully colored flowers. A quick deadhead will keep the flowers reblooming all summer long. It does not get much easier than coneflowers.

So, now you want to add some coneflowers to your garden, but you are not sure how much sunlight these perennials should be getting. Coneflowers are native to North America, so if you are growing coneflowers in North America you are in luck. These plants can actually be pretty resilient. However, the perfect spot for your coneflower will allow your plant to flourish.

Don’t stress! Selecting the perfect spot for your coneflowers will be a breeze. We will want to look for a spot with the right amount of sunlight so your coneflowers will thrive! Let’s discover where you should plant your coneflowers, and why!

The Short Answer

Coneflowers are hardy from zones 3-9, and grow best in full sun conditions. If you live in a warmer climate, these flowering perennials will benefit from a little bit of shade in the afternoon. Keeping that in mind, coneflowers will grow in partial shade. If you do not have any full sun in your garden and are dying to add some coneflowers, by all means go for it. You may need to sacrifice a prolific bloom, but your coneflower will survive!

The Long Answer

Close-up of blooming Coneflowers in a sunny garden against a blurred green leafy background. The flowers are large, with a protruding brown spiny central cone, which is surrounded by elongated, hanging down, purple petals with linear veins.
Coneflowers prefer to grow in full sun to thrive.

For coneflowers to be at their best they need to be planted in full sun. This means anywhere from 6-8 hours of sun per day. Because coneflowers will do pretty well in partial shade, that is anywhere from 4-6 hours of sunlight. Partial sunlight is actually more beneficial if you live in very warm areas.

Full sun plants often require more watering because the soil around them will dry out quickly. In the middle of the summer you will want to keep an eye on your coneflowers to make sure they still look healthy and strong. It is true that coneflowers that are well established in your garden can be tolerant of drought, but even the toughest plants can use some assistance during long stretches of heat.

If you do not know how much sun your gardens get you can simply set a timer, and take a peek outside once an hour throughout the day. You can also purchase a sunlight measuring meter and place it in your garden.

Sunlight Encourages Stronger Plants

Lots of white echinacea grows in the garden in full sun. The flowers are medium in size, with golden-green central cones and elongated, oval white petals arranged around them. Petals slightly drooping down.
Echinacea growing in partial shade will be shorter, slightly weaker and have fewer flowers.

If you have coneflower planted in partial shade, you may have noticed that they are surviving just fine. You  may also have noticed that they are a bit weaker, shorter, and likely have less flowers on them. This is because coneflowers need the sunlight to strengthen the stems and produce an abundance of happy flowers.

Sunlight will help to power your coneflowers with a robust amount of flowers. Because sunlight is responsible for photosynthesis, the more sunlight your plant gets the more growth it will push. This means foliage as well as blossoms. If you want to keep your coneflowers blooming well into the fall you will definitely want to plant your coneflowers in full sun.

If you plant coneflowers in partial shade, you may notice that your plants will grow shorter, the blooms will be fewer, and the stems will be more tender and thin.

Can Coneflowers Survive in the Shade?

Echinacea Plant Growing in the Garden with Pink Petals. It is blooming in the middle of the summer with green blurred foliage in the background.
The original purple coneflower can survive in conditions with dappled sunlight.

The original, native plant Echinacea purpurea, or Purple Coneflower is actually a woodland plant. They can survive with afternoon shade, but not shade that you’d see in the deep areas of the woods.

They can live in areas that have a good amount of dappled sunlight, where trees or other plants don’t completely shade them out. This variety of coneflower is not hybridized and will grow very happily in areas with morning sunlight and some dappled afternoon shade.

Sunlight Helps Prevent Disease

Close-up of blooming Coneflowers against a green blurred background in a sunny garden. The flowers are large, purple, have central copper cones and long, drooping petals, slightly twisted at the ends.
Growing coneflowers in full sun can reduce the appearance of many fungal diseases.

While coneflowers do not struggle with diseases too much, keeping them in full sun will help to keep many diseases away.

Many fungal diseases thrive in shady, moist areas. Because coneflowers love the sun they are less likely to struggle with these diseases. If you have them planted in partial shade you will want to keep your garden neat and tidy to make sure there isn’t any diseased plant tissue hanging around.

Watch Your Companions

Close-up of blooming Coneflowers and blazing stars in a sunny garden. Coneflowers have large central copper-golden cones surrounded by elongated, narrow, purple petals. Blazing stars have clusters of feathery purple flowers on long stems.
When planting with other sun-loving perennials, make sure they don’t shade out your coneflowers.

One day your beautiful coneflowers are growing happily with other sun loving perennials and shrubs. Before you know it many plants may tower over your coneflowers, shading the coneflowers a little too much and stunting their growth.

Years ago, I planted a new garden full of coneflowers and hibiscus. Now, almost 10 years later the hibiscus is thriving and the coneflowers are merely surviving.

The plants are healthy, but the are smaller and I often do not get a second bloom after deadheading. I’ll have to transplant the coneflowers next spring so they can grow to their full potential.

Shade Tolerant Alternatives

Nothing quite compares to the bright colors, and daisy-like flowers of the coneflower when it comes to shade plants. But if you are looking for a colorful perennial that can fill in some shadier garden spaces, there are a number of different options. Here’s some top picks.


Close-up of blooming Astilbe flowers in the garden. The plant has feather-like pinkish-purple flower buds on long thin stems that rise above tufts of fern-like leaves.
Astilbe, which is planted in open sunny places, requires abundant regular watering and careful mulching of the soil.
plant-type plant type Herbaceous Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to Full Shade
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8
where-to-plant where to plant Shady garden spaces

Blooming in a variety of different flower colors, Astilbe is a shade garden darling. It starts blooming earlier in the season compared to other perennials. It is most commonly around 1-2 feet in height, but some varieties can grow up to 4 feet tall if they have the room. They make a great accent plant, and function well as perennial border plants.


A colorful variety of coleus plants and pink geranium grow with purple coneflowers in a summer garden. Coleus bushes have heart-shaped and deeply fringed leaves with pink, green, purple, and violet hues. Coneflowers produces beautiful purple flowers with copper cones and long drooping petals.
Coleus is a colorful plant that can be grown both at home and in the garden.
plant-type plant type Annual, Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-12
where-to-plant where to plant Shaded garden spaces

A warm climate favorite, coleus is notoriously averse to winter conditions. It loves partial shade, and is usually treated as an annual plant in cooler climates.

Coleus is more well known for its beautiful foliage than its blooms. Their beautiful leaves come in many different colors, including reds, greens, pinks and purples. You can also plant them as coneflower companions in areas that receive dappled shade.


Close-up of a blooming Fuchsia 'Dollar Princess' against a blurred green background. Small double flowers with short purple tubes and red sepals. Long red stamens stick out from the centers. In the background grow lance-shaped, dark green leaves.
Fuchsias prefer windless areas with moderate lighting, even slightly shaded.
plant-type plant type Annual, Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11
where-to-plant where to plant Shaded garden areas

Fuschia makes for a great low growing perennial in warmer climates. It’s treated as an annual in cooler hardiness zones. It’s a popular plant for hanging garden baskets, and its hot-pink blooms are unmistakable. It will add plenty of visual interest and dramatic color appeal to shady areas of your garden.


Close-up of a flowering Foxglove plant against a green background. The plant produces a tall, one-sided cluster of several drooping bell-shaped flowers, each of which can be up to 2.5 inches long. The flowers are purple with spots inside.
Foxglove prefers open sunny areas, although it grows well in partial shade.
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height Up to 6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9
where-to-plant where to plant Shaded garden areas that allow taller plants

A popular taller flower, Foxglove can grow up to six feet in height. It blooms most commonly in shades of pink, and purple. A beautiful perennial plant, Foxglove is great for areas in your garden that need filled in near fences where taller plants can help close off space. They will also attract many different types of pollinators.

Hardy Geranium

Close-up of a blooming Hardy Geranium in a sunny garden. Vibrant purple 5 petal flowers with attractive deep purple veins and white centres. The leaves are broadly round in shape and palmately lobed.
Hardy Geranium grows well in poor soils, is exceptionally drought tolerant, and loves full sun or partial shade.
plant-type plant type Perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial Shade
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8
where-to-plant where to plant Shaded low growing garden spaces

A popular perennial in cooler climates, hardy geranium is perennial in zones 5-8. These low growing perennial flowers are perfect for lining garden borders and paths. They bloom in a variety of colors, but most commonly in pink and purple. They attract pollinators similarly to that of the coneflower.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get the most out of your coneflowers plants, I would recommend planting them in full sun for 6-8 hours per day. This will boost foliage and flower growth and keep the plants producing seed.

If you do not have full sun in your garden, try planting your coneflowers in a container that you can place in a full sun patio or deck. These perennials are native to North America and are tough, resilient plants that will survive in most conditions. But we want these beauties to thrive, so look for the sun!

transplant coneflowers


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drought tolerant wildflowers


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