12 Types of Wildflowers for Summer Gardens

Wildflowers Can Be a Beautiful All Summer Long

Yellow coreopsis and queen's anne lace wildflowers in garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Wildflowers are increasingly popular in gardens across the United States. They're relatively easy to grow and care for and create an incredible palette of colors, textures, and foliage throughout the summer months. While it's ideal to select wildflowers that are indigenous to your region, it's often acceptable to select non-native plants if they are unlikely to become invasive.

Tip

Native plants are adapted to your region and will grow without needing much attention. If you do decide to grow wildflowers that are not native to your area, they may require a fair amount of care.

Here are 12 wildflowers to consider for your garden.

  • 01 of 12

    New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

    New England Aster

     

    Blacqbook / Getty Images

    New England asters are native to the northeastern U.S. There are many types of asters native to the Northeast, including the New England aster (Aster novae-angliae), a perennial listed among the salt-tolerant plants, making it suitable for roadside plantings. Pictured is a cultivar named the 'Purple Dome' New England aster. Propagation can be achieved by dividing the plants in the spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties:  Purple, pink, or white rays with yellow centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil amended with compost
    • Water Needs: Prefers moist soil, but can tolerate some drought when established
  • 02 of 12

    Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia aristata)

    Blanket flowers with yellow and red petals closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Blanket flowers are so named because their colors are reminiscent of an Indigenous blanket design. A North American plains wildflower, blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata) offers a two-toned look. Division in spring provides a way to rejuvenate these beautiful blossoms and increase your stock.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Various shades of red, yellow, orange, or peach
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining soil, avoid clay soil
    • Water Needs: Tolerates dry conditions
  • 03 of 12

    Queen Anne's Lace Wildflower (Daucus carota)

    Queen's anne lace wildflowers in garden

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Queen Anne's lace bears the botanical name Daucus carota. Indeed, Queen Anne's lace is related to carrots. If you pull up one of these wildflowers, you can smell a carrot-like fragrance emanating from the bruised roots. The one dark little flower in the middle of the flower head is called the "fairy seat." The color can also vary. It can be found in shades of purple or burgundy.

    The plant has a deep tap root and spreads aggressively in a garden. It's best to wear gloves when handling the plant extensively.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3a to 11a
    • Color Varieties: White with red or black center
    • Sun Exposure: Sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Neutral to mildly alkaline
    • Water Needs: Prefers evenly moist soil, will tolerate drought
  • 04 of 12

    Bachelor Buttons (Centaurea cyanus and Centaurea montana)

    Bachelor button flowers

     

    Westend61 / Getty Images

    The origin of the name "bachelor buttons" comes from the way these flowers were once used. They were sometimes placed in the buttonhole of a suit or shirt; bachelors sported the flower when they went courting. They are also called cornflower or bluebottle.

    These flowers are prized as one of the true-blue wildflowers. There are two varieties: the annual known to botanists as Centaurea cyanus (pictured) and perennial bachelor buttons, Centaurea montana.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties:  Pale blues, purples, pinks, and reds
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained soil
    • Water Needs: Prefers moist soil but tolerates drought
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)

    Plains Coreopsis
    Brett_Hondow / Pixabay / CC By 0

    Plains coreopsis is an annual wildflower. Like the blanket flower, plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is an indigenous flower to the North American prairies. Moonbeam coreopsis is a variety that is a perennial and many garden centers now offer lots of other cultivated varieties.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Yellow petals with a reddish-brown center disk
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs:  Clay, dry, or shallow-rocky soil
    • Water Needs: Extremely drought-tolerant
  • 06 of 12

    Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

    Rose-pink coneflower with bee in wildflower garden

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Coneflowers come in many different colors. For example, some common orange coneflowers include Echinacea 'Firebird' and 'Secret Lust.' Those interested in natural remedies may know purple coneflower equally well by its botanical name, Echinacea purpurea. In wildflower gardens, purple coneflower is valued for the purplish color of its petals. Spring is the recommended time to divide this perennial.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple, mauve, rose-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    • Soil Needs: Any soil amended with fertilizer
    • Water Needs: Prefers moist soil
  • 07 of 12

    Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

    Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' (syn. Lobelia fulgens)
    Gratysanna / Getty Images

    Cardinal flower is a fine hummingbird plant. It is also ​an effective plant for wet areas. Cardinal flower or Indian pink (Lobelia cardinalis) is one of the more striking red wildflowers native to eastern North America.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Scarlet red, white or rose
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, medium to wet soils
    • Water Needs: Does not tolerate drought
  • 08 of 12

    Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta)

    Black-eyed susan

     

    Timothy Carroll / EyeEm / Getty Images

    If ever a plant needed a common name, it's Rudbeckia hirta, better known as "black-eyed Susan." This plant is just too pretty and cheerful a plant to be called by its mouthful of a botanical name. A wildflower native to eastern North America, black-eyed Susans share the Rudbeckia genus name with gloriosa daisies.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Gold to orange petals with brown center
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained soil
    • Water Needs: Prefers moist soil but will tolerate drought
    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata or Nuphar luteum)

    White water lily
    fevck / Twenty20

    Water lilies or pond lilies are a must wildflower for water gardens. The lily pads of water lilies are perhaps valued as highly as the water lily flowers. These splendid aquatic plants bear the botanical name Nymphaea odorata

    A similar yet different plant (widely found in New England ponds) is Nuphar luteum, commonly known as the "yellow pond lily." It is similar in the sense that it shares the same natural habitat and sports those iconic lily pads, but it is distinct both botanically (different genus) and color.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 11 (depending on variety)
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, or yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    • Soil Needs: Wet, poor, sandy soil
    • Water Needs: Does not tolerate drought
  • 10 of 12

    Wild Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

    Wild cosmos
    ooyoo / Getty Images

    Indigenous to Mexico. Cosmos bipinnatus goes by the common name of "wild cosmos." This wildflower is often used in xeriscaping, a reflection of the fact that it is a drought-tolerant plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Golden yellow, white, pink, magenta, orange, yellow, red, chocolate
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining soil (not too rich)
    • Water Needs: Tolerates drought well
  • 11 of 12

    Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

    chicory flowers


    Elena Shutova / Getty Images

    Chicory root (Cichorium intybus), after it is dried, can be roasted and ground to serve as a coffee substitute. For plant enthusiasts, chicory, introduced from Europe and naturalized across much of the country, is valued more like a blue wildflower.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue; occasionally white or pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, neutral to alkaline
    • Water Needs: Tolerates drought
  • 12 of 12

    Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

    Shasta daisies
    James Whitesmith / Getty Images

    The oxeye (Leucanthemum vulgare) is an Old World native that has become an invasive plant in North America, despite enjoying popularity.

    Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum) is not a wildflower but a hybrid variety developed by Luther Burbank that bears a resemblance to the well-known wildflowers that were originally called "day's eye". Among the most popular perennial garden plants in North America. 'Becky' is a cultivated shasta daisy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White or yellow with yellow center
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained soil
    • Water Needs: Minimally drought-tolerant
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. New England Asters. University of Vermont Extension

  2. Queen Anne's Lace. University of Minnesota Extension.

  3. Cosmos Produces Cosmic Beauty. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

  4. Leucanthemum x superbum. Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder.