20 Types of Perennial Wildflowers

Learn about the various types of perennial wildflowers and how to successfully grow them with this gardening guide.

April 14, 2020
By: Lynn Coulter and

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Gloriosa Daisy

Handsome gloriosa daisies, Rudbeckia hirta, are bi-colored, deer-resistant perennials that bloom in summer and fall. The plants grow to three feet tall in full to part shade, tolerate some drought and are hardy in Zones 3 to 8. They're related to black-eyed Susans, which are biennial, but they have larger flowers. Typically resistant to insects and disease, gloriosa daisies make lovely cut flowers.

Buy gloriosa seeds here.

Poppy

Poppies, Papaver rhoeas, add a splash of lipstick-red to gardens or meadows when they bloom in summer. Hardy in Zones 1 to 10, the plants grow in sandy, loamy or acidic soils and full sun to part shade. They are deer resistant and may bloom for an extended period of time, up to four weeks. These easy-to-grow plants mature at 12 to 30 inches tall.

Buy poppy seeds here.

Bellflower

Cheerful, cup-shaped bellflowers, Campanula latifolia, are long-lived natives with white, pink or violet-blue blooms. They prefer full sun but tolerate part shade, like moist soil and provide color from mid-summer into fall. Hardy to USDA Zone 4, some types, if protected, may overwinter in Zone 3. Try bellflowers in borders, dappled woodlands or containers. Low-growing varieties make pretty groundcovers.

Bee Balm

Pollinator-friendly bee balm (Monarda) attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds but resists deer when it blooms in spring and summer. Give monarda full sun and a spot with dry, average or well-draining soil. Scarlet bee balm, hardy in Zones 4 to 9, is a native wildflower with deep red blooms, but hybrids are available in white and shades of pink and purple. Read about the type of bee balm you are growing to determine its mature height and hardiness zone.

Buy bee balm seeds here.

Lance Leaf Coreopsis and Catchfly

Lance leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is a North American native perennial with golden blooms that open from summer into fall. Attractive to bees, it flourishes in meadows with full sun to part shade and takes dry to average soils. In Zones 3 to 8, it reaches 18 to 36 inches tall.

Silene armeria, or catchfly, is sometimes called none-so-pretty, and its rose-purple blooms really do make a pretty addition to meadows and containers. The fully hardy plants take part sun to part shade and reach up to 22 inches tall in average to well-draining soils.

Buy lance leaf coreopsis seeds here and catchfly seeds here.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's lace, also called wild carrot (Daucus carota), is commonly grown as a biennial. It bears rosettes of lacy flowers that are usually white but occasionally have a pinkish or bluish-purple tinge. It prefers poor, well-drained to moist soil and full to partial sun. Thanks to its long taproot, it can tolerate some drought. This fully hardy plant grows to 30 inches tall. In some states, it's considered a noxious weed.

Lady's Bedstraw

Lady's bedstraw, Galium verum, bears dense clusters of golden flowers held high on its unusual square stems. This low, scrambling plant sends down roots wherever it comes into contact with the ground, so it should be planted in containers or areas where it won't crowd out other plants. It's a relative of sweet woodruff that has been described as smelling like a mix of vanilla and freshly-mown hay. Typically hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 10, the plants grow to 14 inches high, with a spread of 8 inches, in full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil.

Purple Coneflower

Butterflies and bees can't resist purple coneflowers (Echinacea) when these native plants bloom in summer. Hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 8, the flowers can be left uncut late in the season and allowed to form seedheads in the fall for hungry songbirds. The plants, which have purple blooms with golden center cones, thrive in full sun to part shade and should be watered regularly, although they can tolerate some drought. They grow 24 to 36 inches tall.

Buy purple coneflower seeds here.

Meadow Cranesbill

Meadow cranesbill, Geranium pratense, is a wild form of geranium that bears delicate veined, violet-blue or white flowers with fine-cut leaves. Frequently found in rough grasslands, meadows and lightly-grazed pastures, it makes a good addition to bed and borders and woodland gardens and can be used as a groundcover. This fully hardy plant, which grows to 36 inches tall with a 30-inch spread, prefers full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil.

Field Scabious

Field scabious, Knautia arvensis, is a hairy biennial or perennial that bears flowers in colors that range from violet-blue to pale lavender to lilac. The pincushion-shaped blooms are held high on a mass of hairy, branching stems. Although it can be invasive in some areas, field scabious is a popular and useful source of nectar for butterflies and bees. This fully hardy plant grows to 24 inches tall with a 20-inch spread and prefers full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil.

Scrambling Meadow Vetchling

A member of the pea family, scrambling meadow vetchling, or Lathyrus pratensis, bears attractive yellow flowers throughout the summer that develop into black pea pods. The stems carry pairs of leaves and tendrils. Commonly found in hedgerows and rough grasslands, it can be grown in wildflower gardens where it will attract bees and wasps when it blooms in late spring to early summer. This fully hardy plant takes full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil. It matures at 20 inches high and spreads to 16 inches.

Oxeye Daisy

A common sight on vacant lots, in fields and meadows and along roadsides, oxeye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare, bear white flowers with deep yellow disc florets in the centers. The dark green, toothed foliage forms a rosette at the base of the plants. These tough perennials prefer full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil as they grow to 30 inches tall and spread to 16 inches across. The very easy-to-grow plants are hardy in Zones 3 to 8.

Lupine

Perennial lupines bear spikes of indigo-blue flowers from spring to summer. Hardy in Zones 3 to 8, the plants grow in dry, average or well-draining soil and prefer full sun. They're easy to grow and attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. Use them in a cutting garden, a flower bed or meadow. Most of today's lupine seeds are a cross between two wild North American lupine species, L. perennis and L. polyphyllus (a taller species from the Pacific northwest).

Buy lupine seeds here.

Black-Eyed Susan

Drought-tolerant black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta, are easy to grow and tolerate poor soils. These magnets for pollinators take sun to half sun and may bloom for up to four weeks in the summer and fall. Often found in fields or on roadsides, the plants, which are hardy in Zones 3 to 8, usually perform as short-lived perennials or biennials. They have bright yellow, daisy-like flowers with dark brown centers and grow 12 to 36 inches tall.

Buy black-eyed Susan seeds here.

Cardinal Flower

Blue cardinal flowers, Lobelia siphilitica, are low maintenance and easy-to-grow. The plants open their sky-blue, tubular blooms in the summer and are hardy in Zones 4 to 9. Grow them in borders, a woodland garden, with other wildflowers, or beside a pond or stream, where they will thrive in moist to wet soils. They'll mature at three to five feet tall and naturalize easily.

Buy blue cardinal flower seeds here.

Toadflax

Distinctive and attractive, toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, bears tall, cylindrical spikes of pale yellow flowers with deep egg yolk-colored centers (these wildflowers are also commonly known as butter and eggs, thanks to their contrasting colors). The foliage is narrow and grayish-green. This fully hardy plant prefers full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil and matures at 16 inches tall with a 12-inch spread.

Common Knapweed

Common knapweed, Centaurea nigra, produces attractive pinkish-purple, thistle-like flowers and long, dissected leaves. Ideal for a wildlife garden, it's a useful source of nectar for insects, while its seedheads provide food for birds during the winter. The plants, which grow to 32 inches tall with a spread of 16 inches, prefer full to partial sun and well-drained to moist soil. Common knapweed is prohibited in some states, which consider it a noxious weed.

Blanket Flower

Long-blooming blanket flowers, Gailliardia, are wildflowers native to the plains and Western United States. Give them full sun and average to dry soil, and they'll open their brightly colored blooms in summer and grow 18 to 30 inches tall. Use them as cut flowers, in an alpine garden or in the front of a wildflower or rock garden. They're hardy in Zones 3 to 8, naturalize easily and attract pollinators.

Buy blanket flowers here.

Forget-Me-Not

Sweet forget-me-nots, Myosotis sylvatica, have light blue blooms with yellow centers. The plants, which resist rabbits and deer, bloom from spring to summer and are hardy in Zones 3 to 8. Use them as cut flowers or grow them in containers or in a meadow or mass planting. They take part sun to full shade and perform in average, moist or well-draining soils. When mature, they reach 10 to 18 inches tall.

Buy forget-me-not seeds here.

Indian Paintbrush

Castilleja coccinea, commonly called Indian paintbrush, is a rare wildflower with showy orange-red flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies find irresistible. The plants need full sun and bloom from late spring into summer, reaching 12 to 18 inches tall in average to well-draining soils. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8, Indian paintbrush is deer resistant and naturalizes easily.

Buy Indian paintbrush seeds here.

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