FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ is a sturdy perennial with bold flowers. This popular cultivar thrives in most sunny sites due to its strong stems and deep roots. Striking summer flowers have prominent deep orange cones with large horizontal (rather than drooping) reddish-pink rays.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Echinacea purpurea occurs in the eastern United States from New York and Pennsylvania west to Wisconsin and Iowa. The range extends south to the Florida panhandle, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
The parent species is indigenous to open woodland edges and clearings, savannas, moist to mesic blackland prairies, meadows, limestone glades and roadsides.
This cultivar originated in the nursery of Magus B. Nilsson near Paarp, Sweden and was introduced by Jelitto Seeds. Nilssson worked for more than a decade making crosses and selections of Echinacea purpurea. The plant later named ‘Magnus’ was picked for its bold colors, large flowers and wide horizontal (rather than drooping) ray florets. Nilsson supposedly disliked the drooping rays of the species which reminded him of a “shuttlecock”. So… the focus of his selection process was to rogue those with drooping rays.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ is an upright perennial with strong stems that branch from the base. Plants have fibrous roots and form small colonies from short thick rhizomes.
Stems are sturdy and pubescent with leathery oval or lance shaped leaves. The blades are deep green with scattered teeth and a short winged petiole.
Flower heads are exceptionally large averaging 3-4” wide. The ray florets are wide and more horizontal than the species. The rays surround a robust spiny cone that is a deep orange or almost bronze color.
Flowering occurs over a long period of time – from early summer until autumn. Prickly clusters of dark achenes form from the disc florets and remain into early winter.
Plants grow 2-3’ tall with 2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: The ideal site for Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ has full sun and fertile well drained soil. Plants tolerate part sun but may be less floriferous.
This vigorous cultivar endures hot, dry sites and intense cold. Plants are pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
Deadheading can extend the season of bloom but will remove the desirable seed that are savored by goldfinches.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice for a Wildlife Garden, Cut Flower Garden, Prairie or Meadow. Plants are also used as Accents or Butterfly Nectar Plants, Butterfly Host Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings and Perennial Borders.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ with Coreopsis major, Rudbeckia hirta, Liatris spicata, Schizachyrium scoparium and Andropogon gerardii.
In garden situations, other cultivars like ‘Powwow Wild Berry’ or ‘Ruby Star’ could be substituted.
TRIVIA: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ was named as Sweden’s Perennial of the Year. In 1998 it received the award for the Perennial Plant of the year from the Perennial Plant Association. ‘Magnus’ won the 2003 Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. In 2014 the National Garden Bureau chose this cultivar as its Perennial of the Year.
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ (Purple Coneflower) – A deciduous perennial that forms clumps to 18 inches wide with flowers rising to 30 inches or better – noted as reaching 4 feet tall if really happy but we have not seen this. It has attractive dark green foliage and lightly-fragrant dark rosy-pink flowers to 5 inches across with orange-yellow disks slightly elongated into cones – flowers primarily from spring through summer but in wild climates often longer. This selection is distinguished by petals that don’t reflex back along the flower stem as much as most Coneflowers. Plant in full sun to light shade with average garden watering – tolerates heat and drought but also wet soils – best in neutral to slightly acid conditions. Very frost hardy – good in USDA zone 2 (-50°F). An outstanding cut flower and a great addition to the mixed border where it attracts bees, butterflies and birds to the garden. After flowering, the petals can be removed and the dried cone can then be used in dry arrangements. This plant is a selection of Echinacea purpurea that is native to the dry prairies and open woodlands of the central U.S. The name for the genus comes from the Greek word “echinos” for hedgehog in reference to the Coneflower’s spiky central cone and the specific epithet makes reference to the typical purple color of the ray flowers. It has long been advocated as an herbal drug used to ward off colds and flu by stimulating the immune system at the onset of symptoms. The wild form of Coneflower was improved upon with more than a decade’s work of selection and breeding conducted by Magnus B. Nilsson, a Swedish nurseryman. In 1982 Mr. Nilsson offered the result of his successful breeding to Klaus Jelitto of Jelitto Seed, who named the selection ‘Magnus’ to honor the breeder. Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ was first introduced in the 1985 Jelitto catalog. It was the winner of the Perennial Association Plant of the Year in 1998 and the Award of Garden Merit from The Royal Horticultural Society in 2003. We discontinued growing this plant in 2014. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’.