The Mexican hat plant is also known as prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera). The Mexican hat plants are a pretty, ornamental wildflower species in the aster family that can be planted in the fall or spring. Prairie coneflower is easy to establish, fast-growing, and it also has long-lasting, drooping mahogany-red blooms that are tinged with yellow on the edges and long, prominent cylindrical disks in the center. The plants usually flower prolifically through the summer and into the fall. The plant flowers resemble a Mexican sombrero, growing natively in Mexico, inspiring its common name. Be aware that, today, a prairie coneflower is often considered a negative, sometime harmful stereotype and a form of cultural appropriation.

The plant is actually a clump-forming perennial that doesn't have dense foliage, the prairie coneflower is typically grown in groups and is ideal for cottage, meadow, and wildflower gardens. The prairie coneflower has an upright growth habit and it grows up to three feet in height. The Mexican hat plant is an excellent choice for planting at the back of borders in sunny gardens.  

Furthermore, the prairie coneflower is used for xeriscape landscaping because of their impressive drought tolerance. Also, their pollen and seeds can attract a wealth of pollinators and feeding birds to your garden, and they self-seed freely. The foliage also has a distinct odor that acts as a repellant to deer. Below is the basic information about Mexican hat plants;


The botanical name: The botanical name is Ratibida columnifera

The common name: The common names are Mexican hat, prairie coneflower, thimbleflower

The plant type:   The plant is perennial

The mature size: Up to three feet tall, eighteen inches wide

The sun exposure: The plant prefers full sun

The soil type: The plant does well in loamy, sandy, well-drained soil

The soil pH: Neutral, alkaline

The blooming time: The blooming time is spring, summer, fall

The flower color: The flower colors are yellow, orange, brown

Plant hardiness zones: Four to nine, USDA

The native area: Mexican hat plant is native to North America (Mexico)


How to Care For Mexican Hat Plant

Mexican hat plant is drought tolerance. The plant isn't particular about the type of soil it grows in and it will naturalize readily. Mexican hat plant self-seeds so freely that it can be rather aggressive, and you should consider what else you plant it with as it can choke out weaker plants. Prairie coneflower won't flower until its second year. In addition, Mexican hat plant is virtually pest and disease-free.


Light requirement: The plant is a native Mexican plant that thrives in full sun. Mexican hat plant can tolerate light shade, although the more sun the plant receives, the more abundant and long-lasting the bloom season will actually be.

Soil requirement: Prairie coneflower can adapt to a wide range of soil types. The plant can thrive even if it is dry and nutrient-poor. However, the plant can't cope with moisture-rich or heavy clay soil. If the soil is exceptionally moist and fertile, the Mexican hat plant could be choked out by taller, more aggressive species.

Water requirement: One of the prairie coneflower stand-out qualities is its drought-tolerance once is established, even in the hottest and driest regions. However, if you want to see the most impressive and long-lasting bloom periods through the summer, offer the Mexican hat plants deep watering infrequently. It will also be helpful to use mulch, most especially in arid and hot regions in other to help conserve moisture. Also during the winter and spring, occasional additional irrigation will only be required if the seasons are really dry.

Temperature and humidity requirement: Mexican hat plant thrives in hot and dry regions. On the other hand too much moisture, rainfall, or cold temperatures are problematic.

Fertilizer requirement: Prairie coneflower can still thrive in nutrient-poor soils, they actually don't need additional fertilization. Nevertheless, adding a small amount of compost when the Mexican hat plant is being planted is sometimes suggested, but only if the soil quality is poor.


Varieties of Mexican Hat Plant

One of the most popular varieties is the Mexican hat plant 'Red Midget,' which is a compact, erect perennial with hairy, gray-green leaves and slender, branching stems bearing daisy-like, dark red flowers.

Pruning: You can extend the bloom time on your Mexican hat plants if you deadhead through the summer. If you don't want your Mexican hat plants to reseed themselves, you can easily mow them down after they bloom. Actually most enthusiasts let some seed heads ripen and instead cut them back in early spring to help the Mexican hat plants naturalize. The ripened seeds are really a source of good food for wild birds during the winter. 


Propagating Prairie coneflower

Prairie coneflowers can be propagated by dividing the rootball or sowing the seed directly into a container or the ground.


How to Grow Prairie Coneflower From Seed

Prairie coneflower propagates from seeds easily. However, if you do not plant them straight into the ground in the fall, then the stored seeds may benefit from a period of cold stratification before planting them in the spring.


Potting and Repotting Prairie Coneflower

Prairie coneflower looks great as potted plants in any warm, well-lit indoor setting. However, if they are indoors in containers, the Prairie coneflower will need repotting on occasion. Prairie coneflowers are fast growers and may outgrow their pots in several months. To avoid stressing your Prairie coneflowers too much, you can repot them in early spring before their active growing season. If you are repotting, make sure you transplant them into containers that are one size larger than their current ones. 

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