The word ‘wildflower’ can actually mean many things to different people. For example, plants that grow naturally in your area also referred to as native plants, can be considered a wildflower. They are often found growing along roads, in meadows, or even in woodland areas. Plants that are not native to your area, but have been brought there and established themselves in the wild are also considered wildflowers. Even invasive species that outcompete native plants can be referred to as wildflowers too.
Wildflowers are easy to grow and often are perennials, which means they come back year after year. Once they are established, they are low-maintenance plants that are beneficial to pollinators and bring beautiful, long-lasting flowers with great colors to your garden. While most seeds are started in spring, seeds of perennial wildflowers can be planted in the fall and late in the winter. These seeds need a pre-chilling period exposure to cold and moisture and can be scattered on top of a blanket of snow from a late winter storm.
When planting a perennial wildflower garden make sure you select wildflowers that are native to where you live. There are wildflower mixes available which can provide a variety of flowers for your garden, all in one package. Another nice thing about planting perennial wildflowers is that these seed mixes usually don’t cost a lot of money.
Here are 6 of our favorite perennial wildflowers:
Bee Balm – Bee Balm is a North American native flower that thrives in woodland areas and is a member of the mint family. Bee Balm attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The flower heads are comprised of slender, tubular flowers which can be fragrant. The flowers bloom mid to late summer and come in pink, purple, red, and white. Depending on what variety you select they can grow 2 to 4 feet. Bee Balm plants prefer full sun but will tolerate some shade in hot climates. The plant grows well in a variety of soil types but does not do well in drought conditions. Hardiness zones 3 – 9.
Butterfly Weed - Butterfly weed is a North American native plant also known as Asclepias Tuberosa. As its name indicates it is a favorite flower for Butterflies but it also attracts hummingbirds and bees throughout the blooming season to its clusters of orange or yellow flowers. The small flowers are nectar and pollen-rich and bloom June to August. Butterfly weed spreads by releasing seed from large pods that form in early autumn. Butterfly weed is easy to grow and thrives in bright sunlight. The plant is drought tolerant and does well in even in poor, dry soil. Hardiness zones 4 – 9.
Candytuft - Candytuft also known as Iberis is a perennial groundcover that begins blooming in early spring and can then continuously flower for up to 10 weeks. Its white flowers completely cover its green foliage and it is fragrant but has a somewhat unpleasant aroma. Candytuft grows best in well-drained soil in full sun. It can be trimmed to maintain a neat appearance and is generally free of pests and immune to diseases. Once established it requires little care. Hardiness zones 4 – 8.
Lupines – This wildflower can be found from Maine to California. There are hundreds of species native to North America. The plant is part of the pea family and like peas, is known to fix nitrogen to the soil. The tall colorful spikes will certainly brighten any garden. One of the most famous Lupines is the Texas Bluebonnet. Besides blue, other colors the flower is available in are pink, purple, red white, and yellow. The flowers bloom from spring to summer. Grow these plants in moist, sandy, well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Hardiness zones 3 – 7.
Queen Of The Prairie – Queen of the Prairie certainly lives up to its regal name with its pretty large pink fluffy flower heads. Each flower is about 1/3" across, consisting of 5 pink petals and numerous long white stamens with pink anthers. The central stem of the plant is smooth and sometimes reddish. The plant can grow up to 5 feet tall. Both the flowers and the leaves are fragrant and the plant blooms from June – August. It grows best in full sun but can tolerate some shade and prefers a moist to wet soil. Hardiness zones 3 – 8.
Turtlehead - Turtlehead, also known as Chelone, is a perennial that blooms for about 4 weeks in the summer. It gets its name from its pink or purple flowers which resemble, you guessed it, the head of a turtle. It is a versatile plant in that it can be grown in shade, partial shade, or full sun conditions but the soil must be consistently moist. It can even be grown along the edge of a pond and will tolerate heavy, clay soils. The plant grows 1 to 3 feet tall and is a favorite of snails and slugs so have your bowls of beer ready! Hardiness zones 3 – 8.
Regardless of the size of your garden, if you are looking to try something new, try planting perennial wildflowers.