Ratibida columnifera, commonly called Mexican hat the long-headed coneflower or prairie coneflower, is an erect, clump-forming plant that typically grows to 1-3’ tall. It ranges from Alberta to Minnesota south to Arkansas, New Mexico and Mexico. It is most common on the Great Plains. This is an aster family member that is perhaps most noted for the long, cylindrical, center disk of each flower and its deeply cut leaves. Flowers bloom in summer. Each flower features a long narrow center disk (cone to 2” long) with 3-7 drooping yellow and brownish-red ray flowers at the base. Leaves (to 5” long) are pinnately lobed. Cylindrical center disks are dark brown and somewhat resemble in shape the crown of a slender sombrero, hence the additional common name of Mexican hat. Sunny borders, native plant areas, meadows and prairies. It is a good source of nectar for bees and butterflies. It is a fast-growing wild flower that is easy to grow from seeds. It grows in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates drought, light shade and poor soils.
- Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil.
- Lightly rake the seeds into the soil so that they are barely covered with the soil. The seeds need light to germinate.
- Water the seeds and keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. The seeds usually sprout in 3-4 weeks.
The seeds can also be started in pots indoors and then transplanted when they have a few leaves.