Saturday, June 11, 2011

Native Flowering Plants that are Generally Disease and Pest Free

A look at three plants, all native to the United States, that are typically very disease and pest resistant. These are great starter plants for those looking for lower maintenance gardening solutions. These native plants use less water and adapt better since they were born to grow in the area.

Claytonia caroliniana
Common Name: Carolina Springbeauty
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 4 to 12 inches tall with smooth leaves and flowers in a loose cluster, this has a blooming season of March through June. Flowers can be white or pink and are on the end of a stem. After the seeds are ripe, the plant will die to the ground and resprout come spring.
Planting Guide: Claytonia caroliniana prefers partial shade and wet or moist rich soils. It does especially well in high humus soils.
Propagation: Carolina springbeauty is propagated by corms.
History: This plant can be a food source as its roots can be consumed like a potato. The root is a tuber.
Warnings: There aren’t any known issues with pests or disease with Carolina springbeauty.
Distribution: Claytonia caroliniana is found in AR, CT, GA, IN, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NH, NY, OH, PA, TN, VT, VA, WV and WI.

Castilleja purpurea
Common Name: Prairie Paintbrush, Purple Paintbrush, Lemon Paintbrush, Downy Indian Paintbrush
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: It grows 6 to 18 inches tall with green or gray-green hairy leaves and flowered bracts on spikes. Blooms are red, orange, yellow, pink or purple and come April through June. Leaves are simple, alternate and deciduous. Flower spikes grow up to 6 inches long.
Planting Guide: Castilleja purpurea prefers sunlight and dry alkaline soils. Planting it next to native grasses can help its growth due to a semi-parasitic bond it has to grass roots.
Propagation: Prairie paintbrush is propagated by seed.
History: Prairie paintbrush has a good source of nectar and attracts hummingbirds to the garden.
            It is a host plant to the Theona checkerspot (Thessalia theona) butterfly and the Common buckeye (Junonia coenia) butterfly.
Warnings: There are no known issues, other than that grass root semi-parasitic bond.
Distribution: Castilleja purpurea is found in KS, MO, OK and TX.

Achillea millefolium
Common Name: Yarrow, Milfoil, Western Yarrow
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing up to 3 feet high, yarrow has small clusters of flowers and gray-green hairy stems. There is a slight fragrance to the plant, with alternate green leaves that have a fern-like appearance. Flowers are yellow-white or sometimes pink and are ray blooms. Blooms will appear from April through July in the south and July through September in the north. It is a perennial.
Planting Guide: Achillea millefolium prefers sun or partial shade and dry soil conditions. It is drought tolerant.
Propagation: Yarrow is propagated by seed. Collect the inflorescence and dry. Seed should be light tan when mature; around the end of the summer or first of fall. Sow directly into the ground.
History: Yarrow is a folklore herbal remedy for fever reduction and to stop hemorrhaging. As a poultice, yarrow was used for topical rashes. Native Americans made a yarrow tea and used it for stomach ailments.
            Dried it makes for a great addition to arrangements.
Warnings: There is no known toxicity or growing issues with yarrow; however, it contains thujone which the FDA only allows for thujone-free yarrow extracts. Sage contains more thujone than yarrow, though, and the FDA believes sage to be safe.
Distribution: Achillea millefolium is found in AL, AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OK, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY and DC.


These three plants can be planted in a wide variety of states and in various locations. They do well in flower gardens, container gardens, and in wildflower prairie gardens. All three have a great look and style.

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