Prairie Coneflower Thrives in Hot, Sunny Spots

If your garden is dry, sunny and hot, try prairie coneflower! These colorful native wildflowers will delight birds and pollinators.

Prairie Coneflower Care

Yellow Texas Prairie ConeflowersGabriel Perez/Getty Images
Prairie coneflowers growing in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Common name: Prairie coneflower
  • Botanical name: Ratibida columnifera
  • Light: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining
  • Watering: Drought-tolerant
  • Height: 1 to 3 feet tall
  • Zones: 4 to 9
  • Attracts: Bees, butterflies, birds

You’re probably familiar with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), but you may not know prairie coneflower. These native plants are in the aster plant family. The colorful yellow and red wildflowers are adaptable and easy to grow from seed. Plant them in full sun for the best flowering. They rarely need supplemental water and dislike wet and heavy clay soils.

This plant is also sometimes known as Mexican hat because of the central disc that protrudes prominently up like a sombrero. However, the common name prairie coneflower is preferred to prevent the spread of cultural stereotypes.

Grow coneflowers to attract butterflies and birds.

Prairie Coneflower Benefits

252179784 1 Mike Droppleman Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Mike Droppleman
A male American goldfinch eats prairie coneflower seeds.

These long-blooming, drought-tolerant flowers are basically carefree. They also offer plenty of wildlife benefits. Pollinators love the nectar and birds like goldfinches gobble up the seeds. Deer usually steer clear. Pair them with other sun-loving prairie plants such as black-eyed Susan and blanket flower.

Individual plants are short-lived. But they do reseed prolifically, so you’ll have new plants each year. Trim them back in fall if you want to reduce their spread.

Check out the top 10 stunning summer flowers that bloom nonstop.

More Heat-Tolerant Pollinator Plants

American Lady butterfly on Mexican Hat flowersleekris/Getty Images
American lady butterfly

“Which plants thrive in dry conditions and attract birds and butterflies?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Cara Washburn of McAllen, Texas.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “Look to native plants that tolerate your climate and bring in wildlife. Black-eyed Susan, bluebonnets, blanket flower, Indian paintbrush, golden tickseed, mealycup sage, prairie coneflower, prairie verbena, Texas lantana and yaupon holly are just a few plants that survive in hot, sunny conditions.

For even more options or to see if a specific plant will grow in your yard, contact your local university extension office. They will have first-hand knowledge of your area.”

Next, learn how to attract butterflies with late-blooming asters.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.