10 Easy-Growing Wildflowers for Your Garden

Candytuft

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For gardeners who like easy-care plants, wildflowers can be the foundation of the garden. They’re easy to grow, 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 easy-growing wildflowers won’t require spraying for pests and diseases or copious amounts of chemical fertilizers to light up your landscape. Plus, they generally are quite tolerant of poor soils and dry conditions, which means you won't need to amend the soil or be too compulsive about your watering duties.

For a "true" wildflower garden, take pains to grow only the native species of these plants, not the cultivars. The cultivars, although based on the native species, have been selectively bred to encourage certain characteristics that are different from the native species—taller, shorter, or with different flower colors. However, if you are not concerned about this kind of authenticity, it's fine to choose the cultivars that most appeal to you. You can distinguish a cultivar from a native species, because it will carry a proper name, such as Aster ‘Professor Anton Kippenberg’ or the columbine Aquilegia 'Dove'.

  • 01 of 10

    Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)

    Aster

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    The bright bluish-purple blooms of the native aromatic aster 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. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall, occasionally as much as 3 feet, and blooms in late summer through fall.

    Like most wildflowers, asters are extremely tough, though you may need to stake them up or cage them in windy locations.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 02 of 10

    Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

    Blanket Flower

    Sylvia Schug / Getty Images

    Showy blanket flowers are long-blooming, 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 2- to 3-foot beauties. There are also cultivars that grow no more than 1 foot tall. Deadheading is not necessary with blanket flowers, but it may prompt more blooms.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Red and yellow-orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 03 of 10

    Wild Blue Flax (Linum perenne var. lewisii)

    Blue Flax Flowers in Bloom in Springtime
    ErikAgar / Getty Images

    The thin, delicate stems of wild blue flax will wave merrily in the breeze in sun or light shade. Unlike many wildflowers, these are relatively non-invasive plants that have a polite growth habit, which means you can inter-plant them with other flowers to create an untamed appearance. Wild blue flax grows 1 to 2 feet tall and bloom in late spring to early summer.

    Wild blue flax is very hardy 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. Unlike the cultivars, which are normally annuals, wild blue flax is a perennial, albeit a short-lived one.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pale blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 04 of 10

    Candytuft (Iberis umbellata)

    Evergreen Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
    AYImages / Getty Images

    This species of candytuft is a short-lived herbaceous perennial usually grown as an annual. (There are other species, such as Iberis sempervirens, that are perennial woody subshrubs.) Annual candytuft will grow so fast in your garden that 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, including alkaline conditions, making them a good choice for the rock garden. Growing 12 to 20 inches, these plants bloom in spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8; normally grown as an annual
    • Color Varieties: White (cultivars are pink, red, or lavender)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil; tolerate poor soil
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Eastern Red Columbine (Aqualegia conadensis)

    Columbine

    Robert C Nunnington / Getty Images

    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 garden. Sprinkle seeds directly onto the soil surface in the fall for nature’s germination-enhancing cold treatment. The 3-foot plants usually shrug off deer, an added bonus in rural gardens. These plants bloom in mid-spring, and after the flowers fade, the plants can be sheared off to the ground.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink/red and yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 06 of 10

    Lance-Leaved Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

    Coreopsis

    Arco Images / Huetter Christian / Getty Images

    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 prolong blooming time. The plants can be sheared back severely if the foliage gets shabby in summer. These plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall and bloom from May to July.

    There are many other wildflower species of coreopsis that will do well in your garden, especially if you choose one that is native to your area.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 07 of 10

    Maximillian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani)

    Maximillian sunflower

    carolannie / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Maximillian sunflower is a perennial species that may not as impressive as its hybrid annual counterparts, but the 8-foot flowers still make a powerful statement in the back of the flower border. Maximillian sunflower blooms in early fall to help birds fatten for the winter with oil-rich seeds. It will grow in rocky or clay soils if your budget doesn’t include soil amendments. Like other sunflowers, it readily self-seeds in the garden.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow with dark yellow centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil; tolerates poor soil
  • 08 of 10

    Blazing Star or Liatris (Liatris spicata)

    wildflowers

    Sharon Dominick / Getty Images

    The fuzzy blooms of the liatris (also known as blazing star) make them look somewhat exotic, but these are quite common native flowers that 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. Plants 2 to 4 feet tall produce long-lasting blooms in July through August. Keep them out of wet soils, especially in winter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Reddish-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil
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  • 09 of 10

    Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnifera)

    Mexican Hat Flowers
    Dean_Fikar / Getty Images

    The vigorous but never invasive Mexican hat features distinctive cones surrounded by drooping rays of gold or red petals. Grow the drought-tolerant Mexican hat in groups of a dozen or more for the vase, as small groupings tend to look straggly. Plants 1 to 3 feet tall produce daisy-like flowers from June into September. If you grow them from seed, don't expect flowers until the second year.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow with dark brown centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil
  • 10 of 10

    Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)

    wildflowers

    Jerry Whaley / Getty Images

    Several native Rudbeckia species are known as black-eyed or brown-eyed Susans, most notably Rudbeckia hirta, R. triloba, and R.fulgida. The various species are all similar plants, blooming for a long summer period with yellow daisy-like flowers atop stalks 1 to 3 feet tall. Black-eyed Susan plants are short-lived perennials, but they self-seed readily enough to make a showing each summer. Cut the plants freely for the vase or to stop unwanted self-seeding.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8 (depends on species)
    • Color Varieties: Yellow with dark centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil