Easy Wildflowers for Your Garden

Why should the wildflowers on this list form the foundation of your garden? They’re easy, never weedy, and they attract and nourish wildlife, including birds, bees, beneficial insects, and butterflies. Whether you like to start flowers from seed or transplants, these flowers won’t require spraying for pests and diseases or copious amounts of chemical fertilizers to light up your landscape.

  • 01 of 10

    Aster

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    The bright bluish-purple blooms of the native aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) are most welcome in the fall when other plants are winding down. The leaves are aromatic when crushed or cut for bouquets. Aromatic aster plants are tough as nails and are good ground covers for rocky soil or slopes with erosion problems.

  • 02 of 10

    Blanket Flower

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    Showy blanket flowers (Gaillardia arisata) are both long-blooming and long-lived plants for the sunny garden. The bright red, daisy-like flowers are edged with yellow, making them pop against a cool color planting combo of blue or green flowers. Expect scores of bees and butterflies to seek the nectar of the blooms from these three-foot tall beauties.

  • 03 of 10

    Blue Flax

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    The thin, delicate stems of blue flax (Linum perenne lewisii) will wave merrily in the breeze from spring through early summer in sun or light shade. The non-invasive plants have a polite growth habit, which means you can inter-plant them with other flowers to create an untamed appearance. Blue flax is very hardy, coming back even in zone 3 winters, and will self-seed in well-draining soils. If growing from seed, the best results will come from direct fall seeding, as a chilling dormancy will enhance germination.

  • 04 of 10

    Candytuft

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    Candytuft (Iberis umbellata) will grow so fast in your garden, it’s an excellent choice for kids new to the gardening hobby. Simply rake the seeds into the surface of the soil, as they need light to germinate. The pink-flowering plants thrive in poor soil, and will also tolerate alkaline soils, making them a good choice for the rock garden.

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  • 05 of 10

    Columbine

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    Many showy cultivated columbine plants exist to tempt the gardener, but the native Eastern Red Columbine is just as lovely and will attract hummingbirds to the sunny or partially shady garden. Sprinkle seeds directly onto the soil surface in the fall for nature’s germination-enhancing cold treatment. The three-foot plants usually shrug off deer, an added bonus in rural gardens.

  • 06 of 10

    Coreopsis

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    There are new varieties of coreopsis introduced every year, but the lance-leafed wildflower form is still beloved for its copious bright yellow flowers and well-mannered clumping plants that may self-seed. If you don’t want volunteers in the garden, deadheading will prevent new plants and also prolong blooming time.

  • 07 of 10

    Helianthus

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    The perennial sunflower may not grow as tall as its hybrid annual counterparts, but the eight-foot flowers will still make a statement in the back of the flower border. The Maximillian sunflower will come back each year in zones 4-9, blooming in early fall to help birds fatten for the winter with oil-rich seeds. Helianthus maximiliani will grow in rocky or clay soils if your budget doesn’t include soil amendments this year.

  • 08 of 10

    Liatris

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    The fuzzy blooms of blazing star make them look like divas, but these native flowers need nothing more than average soil and occasional rain to bloom in the hottest summer months. Liatris spicata is slow to grow from seed, so new gardeners should look for transplants to set out in sunny garden areas with good drainage.

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  • 09 of 10

    Mexican Hat

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    The vigorous (but never invasive) flowers of Mexican hat feature distinctive cones surrounded by drooping rays of gold or red petals. Grow the drought tolerant Ratibida columnifera in groups of a dozen or more for the vase, as small groupings tend to look straggly.

  • 10 of 10

    Rudbeckia

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    If you’re in a hurry to grow a sensational, mature-looking flower garden for very little money, include a few packets of the Gloriosa daisy in your mix. Black-eyed Susan plants are short-lived, but they self-seed enough to make a showing each summer. Cut the plants freely for the vase, or to stop unwanted self-seeding.