Ratibida pinnata (Gray-headed Coneflower )
Gray headed coneflower

Zone: 3 to 9

Soil: sand to clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Yellow

Bloom period: July to September

Height: 3 to 5 feet

Moisture: Dry to medium

Attracts: A variety of bees and butterflies.

Notes: This is a fairly small genus and the only species native to Ontario is Ratibida pinnata, the gray-headed coneflower. Ratibida columnifera, while still being native to Canada and the USA, is really from the western states and provinces. Gray-headed coneflower is typically found in dry to mesic prairies but it will tolerate a wide range of conditions as long as the soil is well drained.

It differs from other coneflowers by having drooping ray petals and compound leaves with 3-7 lobes. I find it to be a better pollinator plant than the typical Rudbeckia fulgida and Rudbeckia hirta, which are common in box stores. Like Rudbeckia, this plant combines well with Echinacea which flowers at about the same time. I also grow my plants in combination with Swamp Milkweed which has an overlapping bloom period. My plants are grown in partial shade and I support them with slender tomato cages.

This is a great plant to have whether you are planting a prairie or a small ornamental garden. It blooms for a long time; it has large flowerheads; it attracts many different insects and it is easy to grow.


Ratibida pinnata - Gray-headed coneflower
Gray-headed coneflower
Ratibida pinnata - Gray-headed coneflower
Ratibida with Monarch
Ratibida pinnata with a Monarch butterfly
Melissodes trinodis
Melissodes trinodis on Ratibida pinnata