If you want long-blooming, no-fuss flowers, plant perennial coneflowers. The daisy-like petals extend from dark cones supported by long stems and make wonderful cut flowers. After the petals drop, the cones are attractive additions to any flower arrangement.
The most popular coneflower in the South (Echinacea purpurea), available in shades of purple, can endure temperatures to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is zone 7 of the U.S.Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness zone. The name coneflower refers to the common name of many species of plants. The black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) is a cousin to Echinacea.
Coneflowers thrive in full sun and any type of soil, but well-drained soil ensures the best success. They can easily grow from seed. If you prefer to buy coneflower plants, select them in 4-inch containers and buy only healthy plants. Once the plants are established, they easily propagate by cuttings or division. Coneflowers also make a nice additions to a wildlife garden. They attract butterflies, and birds eat the seeds.
If you want flowers with a long bloom period, coneflowers make a good choice. The blooming period for coneflowers ranges from June to October. Depending on the weather, you may get blooms into November. If you want to divide existing plants, do it in early fall and replant 8 to 10 inches apart.