This colorful prairie coneflower is a native perennial to western North America. The flower has a protrusive central cone surrounded by drooping petals that resemble a Mexican sombrero, hence the name Mexican Hat. The foliage has pinnately lobed, gray-green leaves that predominately spread from the center clump, also extending partway up the flowering stems. Colors include yellow, butterscotch, brownish purple, and red.
Mexican Hat blooms from June to September and is drought tolerant. It prefers full sun and does well in poor soil. This flower, at maturity, can be 2-3 feet high and 12-24 inches wide. It dies all the way back to the ground after the first frost and is slow to emerge in the spring so care should be taken during spring cleanup as not to uproot them. They flourish up to 7,500 feet.
Great used in prairies, along roadsides, slopes, and any dry, sunny spot at your place. They are an excellent choice for cutting flowers lasting 5 to 10 days in vase arrangements. Deer generally will prefer other options in the neighborhood before nibbling Mexican hat.
Contributed by Kerry Peetz, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.
Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann