Jule Romans has been gardening with native wildflowers for over 15 years. She loves to share knowledge about her favorite native plants.
Native prairie flowers are adaptable to a wide range of conditions and surprisingly versatile in the garden. Prairie flowers originally developed in the wide-open plains of North America. They coexisted with tall and short grasses, and found ways to thrive throughout the growing season, in all kinds of moisture levels and sun exposures. Creating prairie gardens is fun and easy when you use native plants.
1. Prairie Flowers Are Adaptable
The extensive root systems, tough stems, and super-hardy constitutions of prairie plants make them successful in a wide range of environments. These characteristics make prairie gardens an ideal choice just about anywhere.
Prairie flowers can be grown in the city, in small mixed plantings, in formal garden beds, and in large and small meadows.
Every prairie flower can be adapted to suit the needs of the individual gardener and the home garden. Choose native flowers in yellow, orange, blue, and white to add to your garden.
2. Prairie Flowers Are Easy to Grow
A prairie garden cultivates wildflowers that thrived in the tallgrass or shortgrass prairies that once dominated the North American landscape.
Prairie flowers “learned” to grow along with wild grasses, so they developed very strong deep taproots. Their taproots and root systems made them thrive regardless of the amount of water they might receive through rainfall.
Prairie flowers also tended to develop long, very tough stems and prolific blooms. This would help the plants be pollinated and spread faster in highly competitive environments. In the garden, this means that prairie flowers can be in bloom from April through November, if you plant several varieties.
3. Prairie Flowers Grow Well Without Pesticides
Avoid pesticides with prairie flowers. Prairie flowers are also best suited to gardeners who do not wish to use pesticides, as many prairie flowers are designed specifically to attract the insects that pollinate them. That means that caterpillars, butterflies, moths, skippers, bumblebees, and honeybees will all be attracted to a prairie flower garden.
Putting pesticides on prairie plants is not desirable. It is best to let nature take its course. Prairie gardens need insects, and insects need prairie flowers. In addition, birds and other wildlife rely on the insects as food sources.
Does this mean that prairie flower gardeners must avoid ALL pesticides everywhere in the yard? Of course, that is the most desirable option from a native gardener’s standpoint, but it is not required. There are ways to deal with pests that involve limited applications, organic solutions, traps, and even home remedies.
4. Prairie Flowers Support Butterflies
Milkweed tops the list of beneficial plants for butterflies because it supports monarchs. There are many other native plants that will attract different species of butterflies and support the caterpillar growth cycle.
- Wild Blue Lupine
- Prairie Dock (highly aggressive)
5. Prairie Flowers Thrive in Many Conditions
They are drought tolerant, resistant to most diseases and pests; require very little tending, and NEVER need to be fertilized. There is no need to worry about soil amendments, pesticides, mildew remedies, or any of the other harsh chemicals that many non-native plants require.
Prairie flowers evolved in a variety of conditions; they will fit in the garden, not make the garden fit them.
Prairie gardens are not perfect for everyone.
Prairie wildflowers do tend to grow rather tall, and they spread vigorously in the garden environment. They tend to match the cottage garden style better than the formal style. While prairie flowers can be altered to fit height and space requirements, they do create a certain free-form appearance.
6. Prairie Flowers Enhance Urban Gardens
Prairie gardens are great choices for the city. Most people might think that prairie gardens can only be grown in wide open country spaces, but that is just not true. Bee Balm, for example, is a nice choice for a smaller garden bed in the city.
Prairie plants are tough. What better choice for a city garden? These plants can stand up to all kinds of conditions. They also have the added benefit of attracting butterflies.
Some varieties do have very deep root systems. Avoid placing deep rooted types in containers, but they can do quite well in an ordinary garden bed. Coreopsis has a large, but more shallow, root system so it can do well in containers.
Recommended prairie flowers for urban gardens include:
- Bee Balm
- Rose Mallow
7. Prairie Flowers Improve Mixed Plantings
Mixed plantings are also an ideal place for prairie flowers.
Traditional prairie plants like Black Eyed Susans and Purple Coneflower can coexist with a few annuals and daylilies to provide season-long color and vibrancy. Prairie flowers can also take on a more formal look, if they are used correctly.
Recommended prairie flowers for mixed plantings include:
- Black Eyed Susan
- Blanket Flower
- Purple Coneflower
- Goldenrod (if pinched back)
- Swamp Milkweed
Prairie flowers today are often referred to as wildflowers or native flowers.Not every wildflower is considered to be a native plant.
Though there are distinctions among the three types of flowers, it is enough to know that prairie flowers are some of the toughest and most beautiful choices for the home garden. Establish a prairie garden and help the environment while adding beauty to your home.
- NPIN: Recommended Native Plant Species
- PlantNative - Native Plants, Lawn Alternatives, Landscape Design and Landscaping
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jule Romans