This Coneflower Reigns Supreme

Coneflowers in UT Gardens, Knoxville by A. Windham
Coneflowers are a perennial favorite in Tennessee landscapes. Their abundance of summer blooms attracts a multitude of beneficial pollinators. Photo by A. Windham, courtesy UTIA. Download image​.

UT Gardens’ May 2018 Plant of the Month: ‘Cheyenne Spirit’  

Submitted by Alice Kimbrell, horticulturist with the UT Gardens, Knoxville 

Coming from the Greek word for hedgehog due to its spiny, unique center, Echinacea, or coneflower, has always been one of my favorite perennials. The plant’s overabundance of summer-blooming flowers attracts a multitude of beneficial pollinators to the garden, plus the cultivars bloom in a rainbow of colors. 

One AAS Trial Winner for 2013, Echinacea x hybrida ‘Cheyenne Spirit’, is stealing the show in the coneflower department. An herbaceous perennial, this cultivar requires minimal care ― no deadheading, staking or excessive watering, not to mention the plant is deer resistant. Also, it comes in nearly every color you can think of including white, yellow, orange, red and purple ― sometimes all on one plant! 

Like other coneflowers, Cheyenne Spirit requires full sun for the best and biggest prolific blooms. It is drought tolerant, especially after the first year, and it grows well in a variety of soils. It is also resistant to rain and wind damage, refusing to topple over in most storms in contrast to traditional Echinacea. Cheyenne Spirit plants are somewhat bushy and upright, and with blooms, measure about 32 inches tall. This plant will happily grow in zones 4-9.

Cheyenne Spirit is perfect for pollinator or cottage-style gardens when planted in a perennial bed or used in mass plantings in a landscape border. All Echinacea species are native to North America, so this plant is also a suitable choice for a native garden. Blooming the first year, the 3-inch to 4-inch flower heads are sure to attract a variety of butterflies and other pollinators. Plus, if you leave the old flower heads on the plant into fall and winter, birds, especially goldfinches, will enjoy eating the seeds. 

You can find Cheyenne Spirit growing all across the state, and specimens are on display in all three of UT Gardens locations: Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is also widely available at local nurseries. 

The UT Gardens includes plant collections located in Knoxville, Jackson and Crossville. Designated as the official botanical garden for the State of Tennessee, the collections are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. The Gardens’ mission is to foster appreciation, education and stewardship of plants through garden displays, educational programs and research trials. The Gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public. For more information, see the Gardens website:



Alice Kimbrell, horticulturist with the UT Gardens, Knoxville,​