Jule Romans is the author of "Take Advice From Shakespeare" and other books of Shakespeare quote collections.
Incorporating Native Yellow Flowers Into Your Garden
Native wildflowers are so easy to grow—anyone can do it. All they require is a little water and a lot of sunshine. Fertilizers are unnecessary. Weeding is minimal. Native perennial wildflowers are so vigorous and healthy, they take care of themselves.
Exploring wildflowers is one way to move toward more environmentally responsible gardening. Once started, gardening with native wildflowers is so rewarding that gardeners usually become devoted to the idea on their own. Even when growing them from seed, the process is much easier than most people imagine.
These yellow wildflowers might best be described as garden ambassadors. The flowers here give gardeners a great introduction to the concept of growing native plants. Please note that they are not all appropriate for true native wildflower restorations. However, they far outshine the ordinary choices offered by many garden centers. Yellow native flowers are a perfect place to start with gardening using beneficial plants.
Choose Beneficial Yellow Wildflowers
1. Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)
An excellent native wildflower for beginning gardeners. These plants grow happily in any soil. They do prefer things a little on the dry side, but that can be a benefit. Coreopsis requires much less water, making it drought tolerant. The intense butter-yellow blooming wildflowers stay pretty for a long time.
Coreopsis is ideal for native flower gardens with mixed plantings. It will work well with annuals like marigolds and zinnias. Some varieties will grow taller, so plant them with the larger-sized zinnias and marigolds.
In fact, that is a good way to start filling a garden with native plants. Plant coreopsis in and among the marigolds. The following year, there will be less need for replanting. Within a few years, the entire garden can be filled with perennial wildflowers, eliminating a huge amount of yearly gardening costs.
2. Yellow Coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa)
Yellow coneflower is a beautiful, strong, native perennial flower. Its seeds will grow 2–3 feet tall, but can be cut back early in the season to produce shorter plants and more dense blooms. These perennials produce many yellow flowers, year after year. They are also are drought tolerant and very hardy.
Yellow coneflowers are a great substitute for yellow day lilies. Like day lilies, yellow coneflower will spread up to 12 inches per year. It is also easy to divide and reseeds well. Echinacea paradoxa provides winter food for birds.
These wildflower seeds require a few weeks of cold in order to germinate. Sow seeds outdoors in fall or winter. Use greenhouse, cold frame, or winter-sowing techniques for best results.
3. Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
There is another type of yellow coneflower that is a prairie plant. It is actually a different species entirely. The scientific name for it is Ratibida pinnata. If you want to be absolutely certain that you are planting a native, that one is the best choice.
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It has a very different look, however. It is much taller—almost always reaching 4 feet tall. It is not a good candidate for pinching back, because the stems are quite tough and the buds are evident quickly.
The flowers have elongated grey centers. That is why it is sometimes called grey-headed coneflower. The yellow petals are thinner, and point downwards instead of straight out. When it comes to supporting wildlife and restoring prairies, this is the way to go. Remember though, any of the choices on this page are better than non-native plants.
4. Gold Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)
Yarrow is awesome! It looks like Queen Anne’s lace, but it is not invasive or bullying. The fern-like foliage of gold yarrow is beautiful throughout the spring before the flowers bloom. It can grow above 3 feet tall, but rarely does. These wildflowers seeds grow best in full sun and very dry soil.
If you want a pretty cluster of perennial wildflowers that almost never need watering, gold yarrow is the ideal native wildflower for you. Remember, native wildflowers need no fertilizer, special soil, or extra water. They grow happily anywhere there is plenty of sun. Some varieties of yarrow are native to Europe, but most yarrow is native to the US.
5. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s wort is best known as an herbal/medicinal plant, but looks good in cottage gardens too. This is a bushy perennial wildflower that grows up to 30 inches tall. It is best known as a medicinal herb.
This native wildflower used to grow freely in cow pastures. The wildflower seeds do nicely in garden beds and even better in prairie wildflower plantings.
This yellow perennial has small blooms in early to mid-summer. The foliage is more prominent than the flowers for most of the season. It can become aggressive, therefore not recommended in some states. Check local regulations to be sure.
6. Yellow Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
The ideal native wildflower plant for attracting and supporting monarch butterflies. Plant these wildflower seeds instead of butterfly bush. They offer many more benefits. Butterfly weed is actually a form of milkweed, which is one of the most beneficial native flowers.
Milkweed is the host plant for monarch caterpillars. Monarchs will literally flock to this native plant for its nectar, then lay their eggs. Within a few weeks, the caterpillars will be feasting on the leaves of the plant. Don't worry, the leaf damage will not hurt native wildflowers, as it's all part of the process.
Just be sure not to use ANY pesticides near the perennial wildflowers in that part of the garden. Soon, the caterpillars will create chrysalides, and then emerge as monarch butterflies. Asclepias incarnata is a great plant to have around so kids can watch the process.
7. Yellow Violets (Viola odorata)
Didn’t know violets came in yellow? Well, they do. Surprise your neighbors and friends with native wildflowers: yellow violets.
These are the perfect yellow flowers. They will thrive in both shade and sunny area. These wildflower seeds grow into a hardy perennial that also will re-seed. Before long, there will be plenty of little volunteer plants all over the area. This low-growing plant grows well in zones 3–9. Yellow violets are about 6–8 inches tall.
8. Heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides)
This one has all the sun of a sunflower in a smaller package. Heliopsis native plants can be short or tall, with leafy dense foliage or slender stems. Once they mature, the flowers really look like pure yellow daisies. The bloom time of these smaller wild plants is not as long as a sunflower, though they are in the same general category.
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