How to Grow Mexican Hat Flowers

Ratibida columnifera

The latest favorite native of the prairie is the Mexican Hat. If you’re searching for a drought-resistant plant with an odd look, the Mexican hat is the plant for you!

A vibrant yellow Mexican flower known as a hat is visible in a close-up , vertical photo against a blurred background. The photo was captured in bright daylight. The text is printed in green and white on the top and lower corners of the frame.

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This plant originates from North America, and it has stunning and unique flowers. It provides vibrant bursts of vibrant color to the surroundings, but it requires little to no care.

Furthermore, bees, birds, and butterflies are all fond of eating it.

Are you eager to find out whether it can become one of your favorites also? In this video, we will cover everything you need to know about effectively cultivating this tough perennial.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Before we begin, I would like to ensure that we’re in the same boat. I will clarify that the subject matter for this post is a perennial flowering instead of an herbaceous Kalanchoe daigremontiana, sometimes called Mexican hat.

What is the meaning behind the “Mexican Hat”?

The Mexican Hat, also known as Ratibida columnifera within the world of science, is a kind of prairie coneflower well-known for its dimensions and the prominence of its flowers.

The size of the flowers varies between one and two inches. The petals are yellow, red, and yellow with a dark reddish shade.

The flower’s cones are what make it stand out. They are elongated and can be 2 inches or more above the petals. The flower has an appearance that is reminiscent of a sombrero. That’s the reason it has earned its infamous name , the Mexican hat.

A photo of prairie coneflowers in the wild, which is horizontally oriented and shown in yellow and red against a blurred background.

R. columnifera.

Based on the longitude and latitude of the location of the plant, the unique flowers blossom in a time span of three to four months from late spring to October.

When the seeds begin to mature in the autumn, the cones change to the color of brown.

They are long and unadorned, and emerge from an elongated mound of green leaves comprised of finely divided leaves which are arranged in an alternating pattern.

A horizontal photo showing a cluster of Mexican flowering hats growing within the natural

R. columnifera. The image was published on Wikimedia Commons by Kenraiz and made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

The plants sport an unorthodox, clumping appearance. They could grow to be between three and one foot tall. They also grow to between two and one foot wide.

Each growing season, this evergreen plant gets cut back to its crown. The next year, it develops from the roots it was able to establish.

Cultivation and Historical Background

The Mexican hat is a natural plant that grows throughout Canada and Mexico within the Great Plains of North America.

The species is found in the habitats of prairies, plains, savannas, and mountain foothills when it’s free-living within the wilderness. It is not unusual to see it growing in the meadows or on the edges of roads.

A horizontal close-up photo featuring bright yellow Mexican flowering hats is superimposed over a background of blue skies.

Photo taken by USFWS This photograph was taken by USFWS Kirsten Brennan, and is available on Wikimedia Commons. It was used with permission under the CC BY-SA license.

As a member of the Asteraceae family, R. columnifera is closely related to other plants that are native in North America, such as the echinacea and the joe-pye weed, in addition to the other flowers often grown in gardens, like marigolds and cosmos.

There are seven distinct species belonging to the genus Ratibida that are called the “prairie coneflowers.” Alongside R. columnifera, It also includes R. the peduncularis, also known as “the naked prairie coneflower,” and R. pinnata, also known as the pinnate prairie coneflower.

This wildflower species is also known as columnar coneflower, tall prairie coneflower, and thimbleflower.

The plant is a part of North American ethnobotanical traditions. The plant has a long tradition of use in the preparation of medicines. The Cheyenne people used it to treat many ailments, such as poison ivy-related rashes, and also as an antidote to rattlesnake stings.


The most effective method of propagating upright prairie coneflowers is to start from seeds. This is done by directly spreading seeds or planting the seedlings into pots. Any method you choose is suitable.

It’s a good idea to plan the layout of your garden in a garden notebook or journal before you begin planting any plants. These plants should be spaced at a distance of one foot and a half to two feet in between each one.

Let’s examine the measures needed to reproduce this species and the method of transplanting seedlings that were grown in containers.

Planting Directly

These seeds from the Mexican hat can be planted either in the springtime or in the autumn.

Take note that to allow seeds to germinate, they must go through a time of stratification during which they’re subjected to cold and damp conditions.

If the seeds have been planted in autumn, they are dormant throughout winter and then begin to germinate in springtime. If you are looking to seed an area for flowering, it is similar to the method employed.

To achieve the required cold and moist stratification required for seed germination, put seeds in sand which has been moistened by water. So store them in the refrigerator for 4 weeks prior to sowing.

To ensure that you can successfully direct sow in spring, it is important to plan your project for the start of the season as the soil is beginning to warm but temperatures remain relatively cool.

A horizontal close-up photo shows a hand emerging from the left of the frame. It carries seeds that will be scattered across the garden.

The seeds of Ratibida columnifera can be planted. Kristina Hicks-Hamblin was the photographer of this photo.

When you are ready to plant, first clear away all the weeds that have grown up in the planting area. You can then employ the edge of a fork or trowel for gardening to scrape a bit of dirt back to its original position.

After pressing seeds into the soil, and then planting additional seeds to make up for the low germination rates, Cover the seeds lightly to ensure they are covered between two-quarters and a half inch in depth.

Keep a moderate amount of moisture within the seeds that are getting ready to sprout. It can take as long as four weeks for seeds to begin to germinate.

When your seedlings are able to produce at least two or three sets of real leaves, remove them so that you have a space between them of 1 foot to 2 feet.

Keep a regular watering schedule until the seeds have been established. Then, pull the weeds that are growing within the region.

Starting Seedlings in Pots

If you intend to plant in pots, choose three-inch ones and put them in with sterile growing material. Place multiple seeds in each pot.

CowPots are a viable option for biodegradable pots for nursery use, and I would recommend them as they can help make transplanting easier.

The 12-Count Box of Biodegradable CowPots has 3 inches of diameter.

You can purchase a 12-pack of biodegradable pots measuring three inches wide by shopping through the CowPot Store on Amazon. The CowPot Store on Amazon

The seeds must be covered by a fine layer of soil. The pots should be placed inside an enclosed cold frame (if feasible). Then, they should be watered in order to keep the soil moist and soft.

When the seedlings are able to produce two to three leaves, you can reduce the number of plants in each pot down to one.

When plants develop multiple leaves, they have reached the point of maturity and can be moved to their permanent positions.

If the samples were started in the laboratory, the first procedure is to adjust them to their outdoor surroundings by taking them outside over a longer period of time over several days.

Because of transplants

The first time you start with the transplanting process for an upright prairie coneflower, you’ll start with a young plant that you’ve created from seeds or purchased from an agro-tourism store.

In any event, it is essential that the plant be cured before being transferred. This is particularly important in the case of plants that were grown in a safe setting like an indoor chill frame or greenhouse.

A horizontally-oriented view of a tiny nursery that is in good shape to be moved into the garden. The nursery is situated in the black plastic pot.

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin was the photographer behind this photo.

If you’re ready to move the plant, make the hole twice as large as the nursery pot but just one or two inches deeper than the pot in the nursery.

Take the plant out of the plastic pot that it was grown in, and then gently rub your fingers on the root ball in order to release the roots. This is a must for plants that were raised inside plastic containers for growing.

Incorporate any soil that fell from the pot into the nursery with the soil taken out of the hole. Also, mix the natural, all-purpose fertilizer into the soil.

Take off the part of the pot’s edge that extends over the growing medium prior to making use of the pot to begin transplants using biodegradable containers.

After you have placed the plant in the hole, you can return some of the dirt as well as any fertilizer that was removed from the hole.

If you are planting a plant in an area that is dry, it is usually advantageous to plant the crown of the plant slightly higher than the top of the soil. This creates a “saucer” around the plant, which acts as a reservoir to store water and allows the plant to continue its growth.

In the case of climates that aren’t considered to be arid, it’s essential to make sure that the tree’s crown is not submerged any further than the surface of the soil.

After the transplant is installed at the correct level, the gap that remains should be filled with soil, then gently tamped and then soaked in water.

In the event of a shortage of precipitation, it is recommended to water freshly planted plants from Mexican capes on a frequent schedule until they establish.

How to Develop

The prairie coneflower, which is erect and native to wide open spaces, must be cultivated in areas that are able to receive full sunshine.

A horizontal close-up photo with bright, yellow Mexican flowers in the garden, a blurred background, and the sun shining brightly on the blossoms.

Furthermore, it is able to withstand some midday shadow.

Since it is native to a fairly large area, the Mexican hat is a soil-friendly species that is remarkably flexible.

The soil must drain properly. However, other than this, it is a prairie coneflower that is able to adapt to sandy soils, loam, sandy clayey loam or gravelly. It is also able to adjust to gravelly soils. Its natural environment is where the species is frequently found close to limestone formations.

The general rule is that it performs best in soils low in organic matter. It also has a shorter life span than soils abundant in nutrients.

Concerning the soil’s pH, R. columnifera is capable of adapting to a range that spans between 6.8 and 7.2. This translates into a pH range that ranges from moderately acidic up to alkaline.