Smooth coneflower was historically found from Georgia through the Carolinas, into Virginia and possibly into Pennsylvania. This plant was adapted to prairie-like habitats or oak-savannas that were maintained by frequent fires. Very rare in nature today, Echinacea laevigata primarily occurs in woodland openings, such as cedar barrens, roadside right of ways or clear cuts, and on dry limestone bluffs. In place of fire, some other form of disturbance, such as well-timed mowing or the careful clearing of trees, is essential to maintaining the open glade remnants upon which this species depends. Without such periodic disturbance, the habitat is overtaken by shrubs and trees.