What Is A Gray Headed Coneflower Plant – Care For Gray Headed Coneflowers

What Is A Gray Headed Coneflower Plant – Care For Gray Headed Coneflowers



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By: Mary Ellen Ellis

The gray headed coneflower plant goes by many names—pinnate prairie coneflower, yellow coneflower, gray-headed Mexican hat—and is a native North American wildflower. It produces striking yellow flowers that attract pollinators and birds. Choose this perennial for meadows and native plantings.

About the Gray Headed Coneflower Plant

Gray headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is a native perennial flower in much of the central U.S. and southeastern Canada. It grows naturally in meadows and prairies, along roads and railroads, and sometimes in open forests.

It grows up to five feet (1.5 m.) tall with long, strong stems that produce one bloom each. The flowers have a grayish brown center. It is shaped like an elongated cylinder or cone, which is how the plant gets one of its common names: gray-headed Mexican hat. The center with hanging yellow petals resembles a sombrero. A unique characteristic of the gray headed prairie coneflower is its aroma. If you bruise the central cone, you’ll get a whiff of anise.

Gray headed coneflower is a great choice for native plantings. It grows readily and naturalizes particularly well in open, sunny spaces. Use it in a spot where the soil is poor and other plants are difficult to grow. In a bed, grow them in mass plantings, as individual plants are thin and a little scraggly.

Growing Gray Headed Coneflower

Care for gray headed coneflower is easy in its native habitat. It tolerates a range of soils, even those with heavy clay, lots of sand, or that is dry. It also tolerates drought. Although gray headed coneflower prefers full sun, it can take a little shade.

It’s easy to grow these flowers from seed. They won’t need much watering or other care once mature. Just be sure that the soil in which you plant them drains well and won’t get soggy.

Gray headed coneflower seeds develop on the cone as the blooms fade and are reliable for propagating the plant. You can leave the seed heads in place to re-seed or you can collect them. You can also propagate by division.

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Read more about Coneflower


Grayhead Coneflower 101 – Complete Guide to Ratibida Pinnata

If you are looking for a stunning medium sized flower that blooms for a long time, then Gray-head coneflower is a great choice. With bright yellow blooms lasting up to two months, this drought tolerant perennial is tough, deer resistant, and beautiful. Read on to learn all you need to know to grow this wonderful plant!

Ratibida pinnata rising above Rudbeckia hirta

Gray-Headed Coneflower is a herbaceous perennial that is native to the United States. Scientifically known as Ratibida pinnata, this showy yellow flower will bloom up to two months in summer., It’s drought tolerant, attracts a wide variety of pollinators (mostly bees), and is easily grown from seed.

Image Credit Sixflashphoto

But this is a lovely flower when planted en mass. When you see these dotting a wildflower prairie or natural garden it is really gorgeous. From the first time my eyes caught these beautiful blooms swaying in the breeze, I was hooked!

Graceful blooms that sway in the gentle breeze.


Ratibida Species, Gray-headed Coneflower, Pinnate Prairie Coneflower

Category:

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Danger:

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed stratify if sowing indoors

From seed sow indoors before last frost

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Indian Trail, North Carolina

Pisgah Forest, North Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jul 29, 2016, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It makes either a good, reliable garden perennial or a good native forb for a prairie restoration. Native from Minnesota to New York and southward.

On Mar 29, 2016, Chillybean from (Zone 5a) wrote:

A very nice plant that we have on our property. These seeds escaped the borders of our first prairie planting, so didn't get mowed down the first two years during that period of establishment.

I use the common name Weary Susan. For one, it's a nice short name to say and two, it is a quick way to differentiate this plant from the Echinacea Coneflowers. I do not know that this plant can be used medicinally.

I wanted to collect seeds from this, but had no idea how so I just left them alone. Later in the season, I found a bird had started eating from this, which exposed the small gray/black seeds nicely. I am glad to know this provides food for the birds.

On Apr 29, 2009, redcamaro350ss from Statesville, NC wrote:

This plant DOES NOT like a lot of moisture. Started it from seed this year in a class at NCSU. The greenhouse workers flooded the flats continually which caused most plants to thrive but the Ratibidas have not done well at all. Moving them to a much drier place this week and hoping they will pull through.

On Dec 27, 2007, JedS from Shawnee Mission, KS wrote:

Awesome, tough, drought tolerant prairie plant that thrives in clay soil. Vibrant yellow flowers bloom in the middle of the hot, dry, eastern Kansas summers, and survive our winters too. I love to see American Goldfinches stand so balanced and feed on the tops of them while the plants sway in the wind.

On Jan 4, 2006, Illinois_Garden from Fox River Grove, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have several of these that I planted a two summers ago. They need absolutely no maintenance (they're native here), they enjoy nearly full sun in my garden, and they're drought tolerant. They bloom consistently from mid-July through the end of August. I have some issues with the wind beating them up quite a bit, in a natural state they're buffered by the other plants in the field, which isn't the case as border plants in my perennial garden.

On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Grayhead prairie coneflower is a perennial plant 3 to 5 feet tall. It is characterized by a number of lanceolate, toothed leaves in a clump. Few to numerous flower stalks arise from the clump with few leaves along the stalk.

Grayhead prairie coneflower is found in well-drained soils from moist to dry. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It can be found in prairies, woodland edges and savannas.

Pioneers used the dried seed heads like cedar chips to protect clothing.

On Sep 7, 2004, gardengirl57200 from Bismarck, ND (Zone 3b) wrote:

I received this plant compliments of a bird. They grow wild in the prairies here and do not transplant well, but do grow readily from seed. It looks very nice in with yarrow and Sweet William. It does self-seed but not to the extent that it becomes a pest. It tolerates the extremes of our weather very well.

On Mar 22, 2004, mrmcoy from Seattle, WA wrote:

these are great plants! very low maintenence-I grew them for years in my garden in Indiana-the finches loved the dried seed heads, and I used to love watching them bob around on the dried stems working them for the seed-self sow, and the plants are fairly long lived as individuals as well-my best plants literally grew in gravel along the edge of a driveway where they sowed themselves-once that stand became established-they were so lovely and so tough! Even though they self sow I wouldnt characterize them as invasive at all-I never had any touble with them in that regard-great meadow plant. One thing I would say is that if you are the 'perfect well manicured' garden type-they are probably not your thing-they are rangey, gangley and full of character! they also attract butterflys, which is n. read more ice.


Ratibida pinnata

Yellow Coneflower is a rhizomatous perennial herb native to central and eastern USA in the aster family. It is found growing in fields, prairies and dry open woods. It will grow up to 5 feet tall and the large yellow flowers attract many pollinators. Blooms most of the summer.

Yellow Coneflower prefers clay loam to loam soils in full sun but is adaptable to dry to moist conditions and various soils. It is very easy to grow in full sun to partial shade. It is drought and poor soil tolerant so don't overwater or over-fertilize.

Use this plant in the native or pollinator garden in the back border, in naturalized areas, meadows or open woodland.

See this plant in the following landscape: Cultivars / Varieties:

  • 'Sunglow'
'Sunglow' Tags:

Form Frank Mayfield CC BY-SA 4.0 Flowers wplynn CC BY-NC 4.0 Flowers Joshua Mayer CC BY-SA 4.0 Close up of flower Joshua Mayer CC BY-SA 4.0 Fruit Janet and Phil CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Leaves and stem Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz CC BY-SA 4.0

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Gray-headed Coneflower | Ratibida pinnata

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Seeds are sold by the packet.

Seed orders are shipped when order is received.

Each packet of Gray-headed Coneflower contains 500 seeds.Seed $3.00 Sold Out

Plant Species Synonym Names

Family

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Description

An excellent wildflower for the garden with its plentiful blooms and long blooming period. An added bonus is the seed heads have a unique anise/mint odor.

Characteristics

Companion Plants

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Gray-Headed Coneflower

100 Seeds

(Ratibida pinnata) Also known as Gray-Headed Coneflower, this native wildflower produces beautiful clumps of cheerful yellow flowers. Often found on country roadsides where they may form thick stands of color. Flowers have gray-green centers surrounded by drooping yellow petals. Centers turn brown once mature. Each plant grows 3-5ft tall and produces up to twelve heads. 100 seeds/pkt.

CULTURE: Can be direct seeded fall through mid-winter. For spring sowing, cold-stratify seed in a wet paper towel for at least two months. Sow seeds 1/8" deep into a prepared garden bed and water thoroughly. Plants require little care once established. Prefers full sun.

(Ratibida pinnata) Also known as Gray-Headed Coneflower, this native wildflower produces beautiful clumps of cheerful yellow flowers. Often found on country roadsides where they may form thick stands of color. Flowers have gray-green centers surrounded by drooping yellow petals. Centers turn brown once mature. Each plant grows 3-5ft tall and produces up to twelve heads. 100 seeds/pkt.

CULTURE: Can be direct seeded fall through mid-winter. For spring sowing, cold-stratify seed in a wet paper towel for at least two months. Sow seeds 1/8" deep into a prepared garden bed and water thoroughly. Plants require little care once established. Prefers full sun.


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