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Grow Low-Maintenance Midwest Wildflowers

Fill your garden with the tough-as-nails beauty of native wildflowers.
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Plains Coreopsis or Golden Tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria)

Cheery yellow blooms sport a ring of russet around the center. Although this beauty thrives in full sun and medium moisture, well-drained soil, it also tolerates sandy, clay or rocky soil. Plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide. Flowers make an excellent addition to bouquets and butterfly gardens. Plains coreopsis self-sows readily to create drifts of color. Plants are hardy in Zones 2 to 11.

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New England aster (Aster novae-angliae)

This wildflower’s native habitat extends well beyond New England. The daisy-like blooms sport purple petals and yellow centers. Flowers appear in late summer, lingering into fall. Stake plants to prevent flopping, or cut stems back by July 1 to reduce height. This aster grows 3 to 6 feet tall, forming a 2- to 3-foot-wide clump. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8, plants self-sow; remove spent flowers to curtail spread. Ripening seeds lure goldfinches to the garden.

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Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple coneflower boasts striking blooms with reflexed purple petals that surround a spiky orange-gold cone. This drought-tolerant perennial is hardy in Zone 4 to 8 and native to the Central Midwest. Blossoms beckon butterflies and bees.

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Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal flower is a hummingbird favorite and ideal for moist spots that receive sun to part shade. Although plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 8, they’re not true perennials because plants die once they set seed. Offset or young plants form at the point where lower leaves join the stem. These offsets quickly produce roots and establish themselves. Plants grow 24 to 48 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide.

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