Wildflower Wednesday: Yellow Coneflower

It’s not an Echinacea. It’s not a Rudbeckia. It’s Ratibida pinnata, known by the common names Yellow Coneflower or Grey-Headed Coneflower.

Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata
Yellow Coneflower. Picture: Judy

There’s a lot to like about this plant. The flowers are nice, especially in a mass.  The droopy yellow ray flowers are bright yellow. The prominent cone starts out grey and turns brown as the seeds mature. It’s an informal, friendly sort of flower.

This is a tough, low maintenance plant. It likes full sun and prefers soil that leans alkaline but otherwise needs little care. In my garden Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) have succumbed to aster yellows, but non of the Yellow Coneflowers have had any problems with disease or insects.

Yellow Coneflower, Ratibida pinnata
Picture: Jason

It can be a bit slow to establish. The plants I put in this spring and last fall are not blooming this summer, but I anticipate lots of blooms last year. In the fertile soil of my driveway border it grows 4-5′ and needs some staking.

Ratibida pinnata, Yellow Coneflower
Picture: Jason

Wildflower Wednesday is a meme hosted on the fourth Wednesday of every month by Gail at Clay and Limestone. Take a look at her site and see what other wildflowers are being highlighted.

Have you tried growing Yellow Coneflower?

36 Comments on “Wildflower Wednesday: Yellow Coneflower

  1. I am so glad you posted on this lovely aster family member. This afternoon I stopped by our local botanical garden and it was in full bloom and covered with every kind of honeybees, bumbles and carpenter bees. A beautiful sight to see. I am so sorry to hear about your purple coneflowers and aster yellow. I’ve seen it on coneflowers being sold at a local nursery. Crossing fingers that it leaves mine alone. Happy WW. gail

  2. I’ve never tried this yellow one, just the purple which I’ve had no success with either from seed or as bought plants. Adams since tried too given he is better with flowers but still no joy! So I think I’ll give this yellow one a go instead as it sounds far more easy going and looks great! Thanks for sharing.

    • Worth giving it a shot, though I don’t know if it will do better than the Echinacea. Likes basic soil that is well-drained and full sun.

      • I have plenty of that and am really keen to give it a go! Will see if I can source some this weekend now I’m back home.

  3. Even if i am not familiar with them, as they are temperate plants, i became familiar with how they look because of blogging. They are always lovely and attractive for me and butterflies maybe.

  4. Great plant! I saw several meadows of them along I-65 and I-94 as I was driving to Michigan. Great to see so many native plants along the roadside, and surviving all the road construction.

  5. Like Karin, I always see them in meadows where they really shine. They are a bit too floppy, droopy, leggy and gangly to place in most gardens, some homeowners refer to them as weeds. Plus, as you mentioned at the end, if not densely planted, they need to be staked. Most homeowners do not like plants that need to be staked or hooped. I like it for its benefit to the wildlife, so it does have a place in gardens.

  6. I like this one with its large droopy petals. I have a native Ratibida we call Mexican Hat which happily volunteers all over my yard.

  7. A new one on me Jason – it’s certainly very eye catching. I’m always drawn to coneflowers but Echinacea and Rudbeckia don’t do well in my garden. Maybe time for me to attempt them in containers!

  8. Hmmm….I like the look of it but don’t know if I have room to plant in mass and don’t like the floppy-fall over plants. Your’s doesn’t seem to be falling. Is it staked?

  9. Nice! One to try, I think…I’m starting to work in a few more yellow flowers and these would be lovely. Drought tolerance and good for pollinators seals the deal. 🙂

  10. I first saw these yellow coneflowers in a local prairie restoration area and thought they were so neat. Thanks for the info on their slow habits–I planted two seedlings this spring and they haven’t done much. I’m glad to know I just have to be more patient.

  11. Your second photo above is amazing! Your plant combinations in that bed are stunning!!! What do plants are in that photo????

  12. Hi Jason, that’s a lovely shot of the coneflowers, a really beautiful yellow. Have you propped them up at all or can they stay vertical like that on their own?

  13. You answered the question I was going to ask about whether they flop for you. Next year, I hope to remember to trim mine back before they bloom, hoping the plants will get bushier and more stable. Mine are flopping all over the place, even though I have tied them up. Still, they are quite cheerful!

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