No longer viewed as "unrefined" plants, wildflowers have crept into America’s parks, backyards, and rooftop gardens. Here’s a look at some new native plant mixes hitting the market.
Native plants and wildflowers have finally taken their rightful place in gardens and backyards across the United States. Once viewed as unruly "weeds," native plants were relegated to the backwoods and, in rare cases, to roadside plantings in landscape-progressive states. But the American public is finally moving beyond the "new-every-year" gardening mentality toward using plants that have proved themselves superior over the long haul.
Native plants have demonstrated their staying power by being both attractive and appropriate. Colorful blooms, a tolerance for temperature swings and no-fuss performance have endeared these plants to the public and given rise to a great number of wildflower seed brokers, dealers, and growers. With burgeoning interest in these garden gems, seed companies such as Applewood Seed (Arvada, Colo.), Wild West Seed (Albany, Ore.), Beauty Beyond Belief (Fort Collins, Colo.), FSH (Wunstorf, Germany), Environmental Seed Producers (Lompoc, Calif.), and Jelitto Perennial Seeds (Louisville, Ky.) strive to expand their product lines and native plant offerings. Here are a few newcomers to the native plant market.
Wild West Seed: One of 25 different regional and specialty wildflower mixes offered by Wild West, the California wildflower mixture (pictured at left) combines annuals and perennials that bloom in sequence for continual color with minimal maintenance. The wildflowers commonly used with the California mix include such varieties as California poppies, clarkias, godetias and lupins, along with the naturalized species cornflower, cosmos, cornpoppy, daisies, linaria, wallflower and alyssum. Regional mixes are formulated on the basis of rainfall, temperature, elevation and soil types commonly found in the specific region.
Applewood Seed Co.: The Eastern columbine (shown above at left and right) is one of the few species of columbine native to the eastern half of the United States. It is a perennial species that reaches a height of 18 to 24 inches and is frequently found in wooded areas with limestone-rich soils. Its red and yellow flowers appear from mid-spring to early summer, and it makes an excellent addition to a hummingbird garden.
Beauty Beyond Belief: The dwarf blue columbine (shown top left) is native to the mountains of Colorado. A popular and reliable spring to mid-summer bloomer, it is hardy in most states, except along some coastal zones.
Liatris punctata or dwarf gayfeather (shown bottom left) is also a native to Colorado. Its attractive pale-purple to pink flower blooms high on a green, spiky stem. The gayfeather adapts well to a number of different uses, including xeriscaping.
Flecke Saaten Handel GmbH: The old-
fashioned garden mix from FSH is an annual flower seed mixture with many traditional favorites usually grown for summer color and cutting. Larkspur, helichrysum, mallow, garland chrysanthemum, zinnia and dianthus are among the 16 varieties in the mix, providing weeks of blooming for bouquets or borders. This mix is suitable for all zones in the United States. and Canada. Sowing time is the same for any hardy annuals.
ESP (Environmental Seed Producers): A bright pink and white flowered annual, Clarkia pulchella or deerhorn clarkia, is native to eastern Washington state and the Great Basin. ’Confetti Mix’ (shown above) will grow successfully anywhere in North America.
Plants reach a height of 18 to 24 inches and produce mounds of flowers during late spring and early summer. Flowers grow to about two inches in diamter. Each four-petaled flower features three lobes, each with a ruffled edge.
Jelitto Perennial Seeds: Whether blooming in spring with star-shaped, sky-blue flowers (top left) or exploding with beautiful
golden-yellow fall color (center left), Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) provides textured beauty in many landscapes.
With thread-like, linear-shaped foliage and a bushy habit, this native plant thrives in large plantings and with ornamental grasses. Plants reach a height slightly over three feet and enjoy full sun. Arkansas bluestar is noted for its durability and insect and disease resistance.
‘Omega Skyrocket’ Stokes’ aster is native to the southeastern United States. Omega Skyrocket was actually discovered by the Atlanta Botanic Gardens in southern Georgia, near the town of Omega.
This tall, long-lived perennial has slender, upright flowering stems rising from a leafy rosette. Plants flower from July to October and reach a height of three feet. Stokes’ Aster perform best in full sun to partial shade with well-drained soil.