Our 9 native American Echinacea species come from distinct habitats yet adapt readily to cultivation in the organic garden.
Echinacea purpurea is often considered to be the prettiest, and is also most adaptable to a wide range of soils and temperatures. Echinacea angustifolia is the most northerly ranging, the smallest and really the toughest, as well. Echinacea paradoxa is the largest, with flowers of yellow, not purple. Echinacea atrorubens, Echinacea simulata and Echinacea laevigata are very rare, as is Echinacea tennesseensis. The latter makes numerous, long-lived flowers in the domestic garden–very showy. Echinacea pallida produces tall stalks with gorgeous flowers dressed in drooping rays. Echinacea sanguinea is the most southerly-ranging of the species, producing clusters of gay flowers earlier than the other species.
For more information on cultivation and conservation of Echinacea, check my book “Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs.” This is a great resource for finding out more about each species of this diverse genus, our native birthright.