For those who love the large beautiful blooms of Purple Coneflower but want a smaller, more compact version, look no further than Narrow-Leaf Coneflower, Echinacea angustifolia. This perennial flower is a shorter cousin of the larger, more common Echinacea purpurea that is so often sold and grown. But make no mistake, this version of Echinacea will still attract the pollinators you love, and look great in the landscape.
In this article:
- What is Narrow Leaf Coneflower
- What are the benefits of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
- Echinacea angustifolia versus Echinacea purpurea
- How to Grow and Care for Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
- What Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases effect Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
- Where to buy Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
- Uses of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
- Identification and description
What is Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
Narrow-Leaf Coneflower is a perennial flower Native to the central United States. Scientifically known as Echinacea angustifolia, it will grow about 2′ tall in full sun and well draining soil. Blooming pink/lavender blooms in late Spring to early Summer, it attracts bees, butterflies, and birds, which will eat the seeds in Autumn.
A more compact type of Echinacea, Narrow-Leaf Coneflower can be considered more residential friendly in that it can be planted in tighter spaces and still look nice without being overbearing. The shorter stature also makes more erect, as there is less leverage on the stems. Also, this plant has been used medicinally for many centuries dating back to the Native Americans.  
Native Range of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
The native range of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower is the Central United States and Canada. Primarily the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River.
Narrow-Leaf Coneflower Reference Table
|Scientific Name||Echinacea angustifolia|
|Common Name(s)||Narrow-Leaf Coneflower|
|Native Range, USDA Zone||Central United States/Canada, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8|
|Bloom Time||Late Spring to Early Summer|
|Bloom Duration, Color||4 weeks, pink, lavender|
|Height||1-2′ (30-60 cm)|
|Spacing / Spread||1′ (30 cm)|
|Light Requirements||Full Sun|
|Soil Types||Sandy loam to clay|
|Moisture||Dry to medium moisture|
|Fauna Associations / Larval Hosts||Bees, butterflies, birds|
What are the Benefits of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
With each plant putting out multiple stalks, you can get a beautiful display from a single plant. And since individual blooms last for a month or more, you get to enjoy the display for a long time. Furthermore, sometimes you are treated to sporadic, but continual blooms until Fall.
Bees and butterflies
With each flower producing pollen and nectar, this plant is a favorite of many species of bees. Over two dozen species of bees have been recorded visiting Narrow-Leaf Coneflower within it’s native range. The nectar will also attract butterflies.
Being adapted to prairies, this plant can take a drought! So if you have a hotter dry area, this plant can be very hardy once established.
The compact size of this species of Echinacea makes it a great choice for residential landscaping. It will stay erect and not spread outside of some self-seeding (which is easily controlled).
Echinacea angustifolia versus Echinacea purpurea
Many people just refer to all Echinacea species as ‘coneflower’, and it is easy to understand why. Both have large purple daisy-like flowers, both have somewhat similar leaves, and both can thrive in the same growing conditions. But there are a few key differences that we should note.
|Scientific name||Echinacea angustifolia||Echinacea purpurea|
|Common Name||Narrow-Leaf Coneflower||Purple Coneflower|
|Height||18-30″ (30-75 cm)||36-48″(90-120 cm)|
|Leaf width||1″ (2.5 cm)||3″ (7.5 cm)|
|Flower characteristic||Central disc is more spherical. Petals all droop down more so||Central disc is flatter. Petals tend to be more horizontal|
Careful observation of the leaves prior to blooming should be enough information to distinguish Narrow-Leaf Coneflower from the more common Purple Coneflower.
Grow and Care for Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
As a prairie plant, the natural habitat / general growing conditions for Narrow-Leaf Coneflower are full sun and well-draining soil. If you can provide it those conditions, it should have no problem thriving. 
As a prairie plant, Narrow-Leaf Coneflower prefers full sun. So, plant it somewhere that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day for it to thrive.
Narrow-leaf coneflower isn’t picky when it comes to soil. It can grow in anything from sandy-loam to clay. The soil just needs to drain well, as too much moisture could cause root rot.
For moisture, the taproot allows Narrow-leaf coneflower to pull water from deeper in the ground. It is drought tolerant by it’s second year.
The only maintenance for this plant would be to manage any volunteer seedlings that emerge in the Spring. You will also need to cut back the stalks to ground at the end of the growing season or better yet in Spring once the insects have emerged.
Narrow-leaf coneflower is a native plant, and will not require any supplemental fertilizer. In fact, it should do very well in poor, inhospitable soil.
Below is a graphic to give you a general idea of how Narrow-leaf coneflower looks throughout the growing season/lifecycle. All photos are in my own yard.
How to Grow Narrow-Leaf Coneflower from Seed
Echinacea angustifolia isn’t too difficult to grow from seed, but it will need a significant amount of cold stratification. Before germinating, the seed will need to experience a Winter. This can be accomplished by either Winter Sowing the seed (my preferred method), or cold-moist stratifying the seed in the refrigerator for 90 days.
Research has shown that germination rates increase dramatically, from 10 to 80% as cold stratification periods approach 12 weeks at 5 degrees centigrade.  And while high germination rates can be obtained planting at 3-6 mm deep (personal experience), other studies have shown improved germination rates when the seeds are directly exposed to light.
However, as birds do enjoy eating the seeds, I recommend you bury your seeds 3 mm deep unless they are protected from birds or Winter Sown.
If you are unfamiliar with cold stratification or Winter sowing, I suggest you have a look at my articles and videos detailing these methods. You can find my guide to cold-stratifying in the fridge here, and my detailed guide to Winter Sowing here.
Planting instructions for Narrow-Leaf Coneflower seeds
The steps below assume you have either completed cold stratification for 90 days, or are winter sowing the seed.
- Prepare a suitable container by filling it with moist potting soil. The soil should be sufficiently moist so that if you squeeze a handful a couple drops of water will fall out (and no more).
- Plant 3-5 seeds 1/8″-1/4″ deep (3-6 mm).
- Place your container in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
- Germination will occur once nighttime temperatures are regularly above 60F
Several weeks after germination, you should consider separating or thinning seedlings. In my personal experience, plants with tap-roots are more difficult to separate, as a developing tap-root seems to be particularly susceptible to damage. None the less, I do have a detailed guide to separating seedlings here.
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases associated with Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
A wide variety of bees will visit Narrow-Leaf Coneflower. Research has found over 26 species of native bees, primarily halictid bees will collect pollen from Echinacea angustifolia. Butterflies will also visit, although not as frequently. 
Like other types of Echinacea, finches will visit the flowerheads to pick out the seeds from late Summer until the seeds are gone. If you wish to save seed, you will need to be faster than the birds!
Pests / Disease
Powdery mildew can cause cosmetic damage if it is in a shady area without much air movement. If planted in full sun in an area with adequate air movement, you should have no fungal problems.
As members of the Asteraceae family, Narrow-leaf Coneflower are probably susceptible to Asters Yellow as well as mite damage. So, pay attention to your plants for any symptoms. If Asters Yellow is suspected, the plant should be removed. If mite damage is suspected, removal of the individual stalk should be done.
The fungus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, can cause Echinacea to turn black. If you notice the leaves turning brown or black, you may want to dig up and look at the roots for signs of fungus, or being weak/falling apart. This typically is a problem in wet, humid areas. Narrow-leaf coneflower needs well draining soil, and likes full sun. If the soil is too wet, or consistently moist, it will raise the probability of fungal diseases. The solution is to move the plant, or grow the plants in full sun and well draining soil.
Leaves turning yellow
If you notice the leaves turning yellow, this can be and indication of several issues. The first is too much water. So if you have been watering it consistently, you may wish to not
Deer and Rabbits
The hairy stems seem to dissuade deer and rabbits from eating the plants. However, if you notice damage, then you should apply Liquid Fence. Liquid Fence is the only reliable deer and rabbit repellent that I have found to produce good results consistently. You can find a link to purchase Liquid Fence on our Recommended Products Page.
Where you can buy Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
Narrow-leaf Coneflower is not typically sold in nurseries, as it isn’t a typical ‘garden friendly’ plant. But it can be purchased at specialty nurseries that deal in Native Plants. You can find native plant nurseries near you on our interactive map.
Should you notice Narrow-leaf Coneflower in a regular garden center or big box store, you should examine the label carefully. Often they sell varieties or cultivars of Echinacea, and not the straight species. Often cultivars perform poorly in attracting pollinators, and while they may look good, they will not benefit the environment as much as the straight species. Learn how to differentiate cultivars and straight species here.
Where to buy seeds
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Uses of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
As previously stated, Narrow-Leaf Coneflower is a very good native choice for residential or even commercial landscaping. It’s compact size and long bloom time make it easy to place near walkways and most anywhere that receives adequate sunlight (6 hours of direct sunlight, minimum). It would make a great choice for anyone wanting to plant a ‘hell strip’ garden.
Since its height is around 2′ tall, it is quite versatile in any garden design. You can place it along a path border about 1′ off a sidewalk, or make it a focal point of a shorter height flower bed. Additionally, you can utilize this plant in a wildflower garden or micro-prairie, which is it’s natural habitat.
Due to it’s compact nature, there are many different drought tolerant plants that can grow well with Narrow-Leaf Coneflower. Any plant that can grow in average to dry moisture and full sun should pair nicely with it, assuming it doesn’t become overbearing and shade it out. Some good choices would include the following:
- Tennessee Coneflower
- Spring Beauty
- Wild Violet
- Aromatic Aster
- Spotted Beebalm
- Butterfly Weed
- Liatris punctata
Medicinal /Herbal Uses of Echinacea angustifolia
Echinacea is one of the most widely used herbal supplements sold today. Most common uses it is marketed for is as early treatment for the common cold and to stimulate the immune system. In regards to the common cold, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine 2005 found that root extract from Narrow-Leaf Coneflower, or Echinacea angustifolia had no effect on the common cold. 
While there have been some evidence of Echinacea purpurea stimulating the immune system, other studies have found mixed results. . However, even though they are all in the same genus, the three most studied Echinacea species, Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida are all chemically different. Furthermore, note that some detailed studies found that Echinacea supplements are not always correctly labeled, and may contain any of the three species. This leaves open the possibility of unexpected side effects due to chemical differences because of incorrect species, interactions with other medicines (herbal or prescribed), or allergic reactions.
Native American Uses
Ten different Native American tribes utilized Echinacea angustifolia. The uses were quite consistent across different tribes, which covered a substantial portion of the North American continent. Some of the uses included the following –
- Infusion of powdered leaves/roots was used as an analgesic, chewed for a sore mouth, sore throat, toothache, or to treat dry mouth.
- Roots were used to treat burns
- The plant was used as an antidote for snakebites or various poisonous conditions
- Chewed roots were used to make a poultice that was applied to swellings, mumps, swollen glands, and to treat septic diseases
- Smoke made from the plant was used to calm horses.
- *Sources   
Identification and Characteristics of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower
The stalk of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower is green, round, and covered in white hairs (similar to it’s cousin, Tennessee Coneflower). The hairy stalk and more compact nature alone can make it easy to differentiate it from other Coneflowers.
Green, narrow, almost linear leaves that are about 6″ long by 1/2″-1″ wide lanceolate to ovate in shape. Most leaves will be at the base of the plant, with sporadic, ascending alternate leaves on the lower half of the stalk with smooth margins.
Each stalk will produce a single flower head that is 2-3″ diameter. A member of the Asteraceae family, Narrow-Leaf Coneflower blooms will have central disc flowers in the form of a cone surrounded by ray flowers (the petals). Petals are numerous, light pink to purple that will droop down.
One can think of Narrow-Leaf Coneflower as a shorter, but showier version of Pale Purple Coneflower, as the flowerheads are more densely packed with petals, but those petals still droop down and dangle in the breeze.
About a month after blooming the seed head will turn gray/black. This is the sign that the seeds are ready for harvest. You can easily save seed for Narrow-leaf Coneflower in a the same way as other Echinacea species. See our guide to saving Echinacea seeds for details.
Narrow Leaf Coneflower produces a woody taproot. In proper conditions, and at maturity, it can reach depths of 8′ (2.4m). 
 – Micehelle Stevens. “Echinacea Angustifolia” USDA NRCS Plants Data Center. Accessed 31MAR2022.
 – Kindscher, Kelly. “The biology and ecology of Echinacea species.” Echinacea. Springer, Cham, 2016. 47-54.
 – Baskin, Carol C., Jerry M. Baskin, and George R. Hoffman. “Seed dormancy in the prairie forb Echinacea angustifolia var. angustifolia (Asteraceae): Afterripening pattern during cold stratification.” International journal of plant sciences 153.2 (1992): 239-243.
 – Chuanren, Duan, et al. “Effect of chemical and physical factors to improve the germination rate of Echinacea angustifolia seeds.” Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 37.3-4 (2004): 101-105.
 – Wagenius, Stuart, and Stephanie Pimm Lyon. “Reproduction of Echinacea angustifolia in fragmented prairie is pollen‐limited but not pollinator‐limited.” Ecology 91.3 (2010): 733-742.
 – Turner, Ronald B., et al. “An evaluation of Echinacea angustifolia in experimental rhinovirus infections.” New England Journal of Medicine 353.4 (2005): 341-348.
 – Barnes, Joanne, et al. “Echinacea species (Echinacea angustifolia (DC.) Hell., Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt., Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench): a review of their chemistry, pharmacology and clinical properties.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 57.8 (2005): 929-954.
 – Morazzoni, P., et al. “In vitro and in vivo immune stimulating effects of a new standardized Echinacea angustifolia root extract (Polinacea™).” Fitoterapia 76.5 (2005): 401-411.
 – “Echinacea angustifolia“. North American Ethnobotany Database. Accessed 01APR2022.
 – Gilmore, Melvin Randolph. “Uses of plants by the Indians of the Missouri River region“. Vol. 33. P.131 Library Reprints, Incorporated, 1919.
 – Kindscher, Kelly. “Ethnobotany of purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia, Asteraceae) and OtherEchinacea Species.” Economic Botany 43.4 (1989): 498-507.
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