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Home & garden.

Updated: 3 May 2022

How to grow echinaceas and best varieties

Echinaceas return year after year to bloom in mid-summer. Discover our best varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas

Echinaceas, commonly called coneflowers, start to bloom in mid-summer and look good for many weeks, their mellow colours ideally suited to the late-summer sun. They fit into both formal or natural-looking gardens, as well as the ‘prairie’- style planting for which they’ve become well-known.

They have a temperamental side though, and sometimes die down in winter, never to be seen again. We thought it was time to find out which of them not only looked good but had some staying power as well.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties in the north and south of the UK over two years to see which would give us the best display and be hardy enough to get through UK winters.

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Key facts

PLANT TYPE Herbaceous perennial


SOIL Well-drained 

How to grow echinaceas: month by month




Best echinacea varieties

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Full testing results for echinaceas

Variety name Overall rating
Flowering duration Flower impact Scent Plant shape Insect attraction Garden worthiness Pest & disease problems 

USING THE TABLE Figures on the table relate to the second year when plants were mature. SCORE The more stars the better Results are based on flower duration 20%, flower impact 20%, scent 10%, plant shape (whether floppy or self-supporting) 10%, insect attraction 15%, pest and disease problems 15%, garden worthiness 10%. Garden worthiness is a subjective assessment of the quality of the plant.

How we test echinaceas

In spring, we planted three plants of each variety at our Capel Manor trial garden in north London, where the soil is well-drained and the climate mild and relatively dry. We did the same at Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, where it’s colder, slightly wetter and the soil is also well-drained. Plants were grown for two years and assessed for: duration and impact of flowering; whether they were floppy or self-supporting; which had the best scent; those that attracted the most pollinators; susceptibility to problems.

Caring for your plants


Plant in any soil, as long as it’s well-drained. Add well-rotted garden compost when planting. Place in full sun for best flowering, though they can also grow in light shade. Plant in spring if possible so plants establish before winter sets in.


Deadheading regularly early in the flowering season prolongs flowering. Stop deadheading in September and allow stems to stay on until new growth starts in spring. This helps protect the plant’s crown in winter.

Common growing problems

Slugs and snails

Watch out for slugs and snails eating leaves as plants come into growth in spring. Use organic slug pellets or biological control (for slugs only).

Read more about slugs and snails