Friday, July 29, 2011

Texas Native Plants that Love Full Sun Landscapes

The Texas landscape can be hot enough as it is, plants that are in full sun areas – those areas that get over 8 hours of sunlight a day- can really need to be able to take the heat. These native plants of Texas can all thrive as well as survive the heat.

Pulsatilla patens
Common Name: American Pasqueflower, Eastern Pasqueflower
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: American pasqueflower grows 6 to 15 inches tall with hairy stalks and a three leaved flower stem. Flowers are blue, purple or white and bloom from April through June. Leaves are linear and basal.
Planting Guide: Pulsatilla patens requires sunny spots in the landscape and dry nearly neutral soil. Soil pH should be between 6.8 and 7.2.
Propagation: American pasqueflower is propagated by seed, clump division, and root cuttings. Seeds come in the summer and do not need stratification or scarification. Division and cuttings should be done in spring or fall.
History: The name refers to the flowering throughout Easter that most of the flowers do throughout its range.
            It is a Native American herbal remedy for headaches, childbirth, decreasing sexual excitement and for central nervous system suppression.
Warnings: Can be dormant in a drought but will need good drainage.
            It can be an irritant due to volatile oil.
Distribution: Pulsatilla patens is found in AK, CO, ID, IL, IA, KS, MI, MN, MT, NE, NM, ND, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI and WY.

Populus tremuloides
Common Name: Quaking Aspen, Aspen
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: With round shiny leaves and white-green bark, the quaking aspen grows 35 to 50 feet high. Foliage will turn into a bold yellow. Catkins are silver-toned and come before the leaves. Bloom season is from April to May.
Planting Guide: Populus tremuloides prefers full sun and wet soil. It is adaptable to soil conditions.
Propagation: Quaking Aspen is propagated by root division, seed, or cuttings. Sow seed fresh as they only are viable for a few days.
History: It is a larval host plant for the Great ash sphinx (Sphinx chersis) butterfly, the Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) butterfly, and the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly.
Warnings: Quaking aspen is plagued by insect and disease issues.
Distribution: Populus tremuloides is found in AK, AZ, AR, CA, CT, CO, IL, ID, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OR, OH, PA, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI and WY.

Cordia boissieri
Common Name: Mexican Olive, Anacahuita
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing up to 30 feet high, the Mexican olive has dark large leaves and white trumpet-shaped flowers with yellow throats. Leaves are soft and semi-evergreen. Flowers are also large and bloom all year round with the majority of the flowering between late spring and the early part of summer.
Planting Guide: Cordia boissieri prefers sun or partial shade and well drained moist or dry soil. It needs a wild winter area. There is a high tolerance for heat and drought. Soil should be alkaline or neutral in pH. It is a slow grower.
Propagation: Mexican olive is propagated by seed, semi-hardwood cuttings and softwood cuttings. Seeds can be sown without treatment or after double-stratify. Summer is good for taking cuttings.
History: Butterflies love the flowers and cattle, deer and birds will browse the Mexican olive for its fruits.
Warnings: Deer and cattle that eat too much of the Mexican olive fruit may become tipsy.
Distribution: Cordia boissieri is found in TX.

Datura inoxia
Common Name: Pricklybur, Indian-apple
Lifespan: Short-lived Perennial
Description: Growing 1 to 3 feet high, the pricklybur has simple alternate leaves that are ovate in shape. Leaves are hairy and soft and smell like old peanut butter. Flowers are like funnels, white with purplish hues, with a bloom season of March through November. Seeds are in capsules that are spiny.
Planting Guide: Datura inoxia prefers full sun or partial sun with any type of soil. It is drought tolerant.
Propagation: Pricklybur is propagated by seed and is an avid self-seeder.
History: This is a weedy and quickly spreading plant through the landscape. The flowers are spectacular though.
Warnings: All parts of the pricklybur are poisonous due to the toxic alkaloid scopolamine.
Distribution: Datura inoxia is found in TX.

These four native plants can work wonders in your prairie or wildflower garden. They are all Texas beauties.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

U.S.A. Native Wildflowers and Plants Used by Native Americans

There are many plants that have been utilized as an herbal remedy. These four native wildflowers are just a few of the plants that have, at one time, been a Native American remedy for something. One is poisonous and should never be ingested.

Cypripedium acaule Ait. (Moccasin Flower, Pink Lady’s Slipper)
This version is the only Cypripedium to require an acidic soil. Test your soil before planting and make sure it has a range of pH 3.5-4.5. These will bloom five to six years after first growth. Moccasin flower has light to dark pink flowers from May to June and it reaches eight to 18 inches in height. The leaves look like they are coming right out of the ground instead of off the stem. Native Americans used this to invoke spirit dreams just by its presence.

Diphylleia cymosa Michx. (American Umbrellaleaf)
This is a member of the barberry family and will reach three feet in height. Space them at least two to three feet apart in your garden arrangement. It is found in four counties in northeast Georgia. It has opposite leaves and white 6-petal flowers growing mid-spring to late summer. It has blue berry-like fruit and is slow to establish. Keep in afternoon shade for better growth.  Cherokee Indians used it as a root tea to induce sweating. WARNING: This plant can be toxic.

Eupatorium perfoliatum L. (Boneset)
Boneset grows two to our feet high with opposite leaves eight inches long and hairy stems. Flowers are clusters of white flowerheads blooming summer and fall. They have a nice scent to them. Boneset prefers full or partial sun and moist or wet soil conditions. Butterflies and bees are attracted to the nectar and moth caterpillers such as the clymene moth and the lined ruby tiger moth feed on it. Boneset is a Native American herbal remedy for fever, colds, malaria and break bone fever. It was used as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulant and analgesic.

Jeffersonia diphylla L. Pers. (Twinleaf)
This perennial ground cover grows to 12 to 18 icnhes tall high. It is pretty, but short -lived. It will have white star-like 8-petaled flowers March through May that resemble bloodroot. Twinleaf prefers partial shade and moist acidic soils. Propagate by seed or division. Native Americans used twinleaf for urinary problems and to make a poultice for sores.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer-Blooming Native Plants of Montana

Looking to supplement your Montana flower garden’s blooms of Spring? These summer-blooming native plants make for a great complement to the spring blooms. These go throughout the heat of the summer.

Aquilegia caerulea
Common Name: Rocky Mountain Columbine, Colorado Blue Columbine
Synonyms: Aquilegia coreulea
Lifespan: Short-lived Perennial
Description: As Colorado’s state flower, the Rocky Mountain columbine has blue or white flowers and light green cut leaves. It will grow 1 to 2 feet high with spurred blooms and an upright form. Flowers will bloom between June and August.
Planting Guide: Aquilegia caerulea prefers shaded areas and a moist rocky soil.
Propagation: Rocky Mountain columbine is propagated by division or by seed. Collect seeds when they turn black, storing them in moist cold sand for 60 days. Sow seed in fall in shallow ground. For division, divide in the first of fall or at the end of the summer.
History: This flower attracts hummingbirds for its nectar.
            Aquilegia is from “aquila” in Latin which means eagle. It is believed to be named for the petals that are spurred resembling the talons of an eagle.
Warnings: It can have aphids as a pest problem. Individual plants may only last five years, but with self-seeding, can still be long lasting.
Distribution: Aquilegia caerulea is found in AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, SD, UT and WY.

Silene acaulis
Common Name: Moss Campion, Cushion-pink
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This perennial wildflower has glossy leaves and pink or lavender flowers. It grows like moss in a tight pattern. Blooms have five petals and contrast against the bright green foliage. Bloom season is between June and August.
Planting Guide: Silene acaulis prefers full sun conditions and a rich soil.
Propagation: Moss campion is propagated by seed or stem cuttings.
History: Moss campion is a very trouble free plant, perfect for rock gardens.
Distribution: Silene acaulis is found in AZ, AK, CO, ID, ME, MT, NV, NH, NM, OR, UT, WA, and WY.

Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium
Common Name: Willow Herb, Fireweed, Narrow-leaf Fireweed
Synonyms: Epilobium angustifolium
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Fireweed grows 3 to 5 feet high with reddish erect stems and green alternate leaves. Four-petaled blooms are in a tapered spike and are rose-purple or white. Blooms will be seen between June and August. Seeds are in slender pods.
Planting Guide: Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium should be planted in sunny locations in moist nearly-neutral well-drained soil.
Propagation: Fireweed is propagated by seed or division. Seed should be cold stratified for 30 days before planting to improve germination. Plant the seeds in the fall.
History: Attracts butterflies and can be a food source. Leaves can be cooked like greens and stems are split for the edible pith, or center.
            Stem fibers can be made into nets for fishing.
            It is known as fireweed by invading areas that have burnt and forming a mass of green and flowers.
Warnings: This plant has to be in full sun conditions to grow.
Distribution: Chamerion angustifolium ssp. angustifolium is found in AK, MT, WA and WY.

Sporobolus heterolepis
Common Name: Prairie Dropseed
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 2 feet in height, this fine textured deciduous grass has curved leaves and seed heads that rise above mid-summer tufts. The green foliage turns a nice tan-bronze in the winter and gold-orange in the fall. Blooms are pink, green, brown or yellow and come June through August. The flowers are also fragrant and bring a light scent to the landscape. The aroma has been described as a mix between popcorn and cilantro.
Planting Guide: Sporobolus heterolepis is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 3 through 8. Prairie dropseed needs a soil pH of 6 to 7.2 and at least 100 frost-free days. It prefers sunny locations and dry sandy soils. It will be both slow to grow and slow to establish.
Propagation: Prairie dropseed is propagated by seed that is collected in October. Seed can either be unstratified and sown in the fall season or stratified and sown in the spring. Sow prairie dropseed 1/4 inch deep into the soil; the cooler the weather, the better the germination of the seed.
History: The seeds of the prairie dropseed are well-loved by birds and the plant will attract them. Native Americans used the seed to grind into fine flour.
Warnings: The plant is not prone to pest, disease or toxicities.
Distribution: Sporobolus heterolepis is found in AR, CO, CT, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, SD, VA, WI and WY.

These four lovely natives are great for providing a burst of color in the middle to end of the summer season. From grasses to flowering plants, these natives will work in a variety of settings.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Native Magnolia Trees of Georgia

There are so many native trees in Georgia, but perhaps the south is best known for their magnolias. These magnolia trees all provide broad thick leaves and traditional magnolia blooms brimming with scent. These five magnolia trees are all good selections for your landscape.

Magnolia acuminata (L.) L. (Cucumber-tree, Tulipastrum acuminatum, Tulipastrum cordatum)
This magnolia is so named because its fruit looks like a cucumber. It reaches a height and a spread of 50 to 80 feet. A fast grower with wide branches, it prefers full sun or partial shade. Its fragrant green white flowers will appear in spring and come fall will have yellow bronze color.

Magnolia macrophylla Michx. (Bigleaf Magnolia)
Living up to its name, this magnolia has waxy leaves ranging from 20 to 30 inches, with whitish hairs underneath. It reaches a height of 40 feet and a spread of 15 feet. Fruits are large, similar to cones, and its flowers are fragrant and white appearing April to May. It is a slow grower and has a straight trunk. It prefers sun or partial shade. Bigleaf magnolia is a highly ornamental tree.

Magnolia pyramidata Bartr. (Pyramid Magnolia)
This deciduous tree gets up to 30 feet high and has a spread of 25 feet. Its leaves are eight to 10 inches long and offset its three to five inch long white flowers. It has a high heat tolerance and thin grey/brown bark.

Magnolia tripetala (L.) L. (Umbrella Magnolia, Umbrella-tree)
With one to two foot diamond shaped leaves, the umbrella tree really is a canopied marvel. It gets up to 40 feet tall and has a 20 to 30 foot spread. It will have several trunks and large showy flowers that are typical to the magnolia taxa. Its cone-like fruit will mature in August or September and is pollinated by beetles. This magnolia prefers partial shade or full shade and is not drought tolerant. An ornamental favorite for any garden, this tree will do you proud.

Magnolia virginiana L. (Sweetbay, Sweetbay Magnolia)
A slow-growing evergreen tree, this magnolia species can grow from 50 to 100 feet. It produces spectacular white flowers from April to July and will have red fruits from July to October.  It will do perfectly in a partly shady spot in your landscape. Two-thirds of all magnolia wood is used for furniture, but it is also used for Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, and broom handles.  It is important forage for deer and cattle, making up 25% of their diet in the winter.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

California Native Gardening Choices – Plants that Fit that Landscape

California incorporates the USDA hardiness zones of 5 through 10. This is a wide variance of minimum temperatures and weather patterns. Gardeners and landscapers should be assured of the hardiness zone of the area they are working in as well as the hardiness zones of the plants they are using. These three plants are all native to the area, and are all assured of doing well in the California landscape.

Clinopodium douglasii
Common Name: Oregon-tea, Yerba buena
Synonyms: Micromeria chamissonis, Satureja douglasii
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This grows to 6 feet wide in a creeping growth pattern. There are round bright green leaves with a mint fragrance and small two-lipped flowers that are white. Bloom season for this plant is April through September. It does well as a ground cover in moist shaded areas.
Planting Guide: Clinopodium douglasii prefers partial shade and moist soil.
Propagation: Oregon-tea is propagated by seed, cuttings, or rooted sections of plant. There is no scarification or stratification needed on the seed.
History: An herbal medicinal tea is made with the leaves to alleviate childbirth pain.
            Yerba buena means “good herb” in Spanish.
Warnings: There are no known warnings for Oregon-tea.
Distribution: Clinopodium douglasii is found in AK, CA, ID, MT, OR and WA.

Sarcodes sanguinea
Common Name: Snow Plant
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A fleshy erect plant, it is bright red in color. Bracts will wrap around the stems. The flowers, in racemes, also have bracts wrapped around them. Bloom season is between April and July.
Planting Guide: Sarcodes sanguinea
Propagation: Snow plant is propagated by seed.
History: Sarcodes sanguinea was named by an American taxonomist, John Torrey.
Warnings: It is known as a parasitic plant that will get its nutrition from the fungi of tree roots.
Distribution: Sarcodes sanguinea is found in CA, NV and OR.

Catalpa bignonioides
Common Name: Cigar Tree, Southern Catalpa, Indian Bean
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 25 to 40 feet high and nearly the same in width, this tree has an irregular crown. Leaves are veined, green, heart-shaped, and deciduous. Flowers are 2-lipped, white and bloom between May through June. Fruits look like a cigar and are in a pod.
Planting Guide: Catalpa bignonioides prefers partial shade and wet or moist soils.
Propagation: Cigar tree is propagated by hardwood cuttings, softwood cuttings, or by seed. Seed is collected from split capsules in late winter or the beginning of spring and put into dry cold storage. There is no stratification or scarification needed on the seed to achieve germination.
History: This tree is very hardy and some have called it “indestructible”.
Warnings: Root suckers can be an issue as well as caterpillars defoliating the tree.
Distribution: Catalpa bignonioides is found in AL, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, IN, IL, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, LA, MA, MS, MO, NY, NJ, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV and DC.

These three plants are all found in the California landscape. They will work well in prairie gardens and in water-wise xeriscaping. While some may require moist or wet soil, they will still take less water than those that were not native to the California state.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Georgia’s Native Plants and Wildflowers that are Fragrant

There are many fragrant flowers and plants in the gardening world. Many of these, however, are not native to the state of Georgia. These four flowers are all native to Georgia and are fragrant, making for good use around patios and decks or wherever the gardener would like a burst of scent.

Filipendula rubra (Hill) B. L. Robins. (Queen of the Prairie)
This plant is a favorite of butterflies, birds, and bees. It grows up to four feet tall and has a two to three foot spread. It loves partial shade and moist acidic soil. Its blooms are small, fragrant, and pink. Several stamens will give the plant a feather-like appearance. It will bloom from June to August. Leaves are deeply lobed and have 7 to 9 lobes. You need to cut the foliage back when it starts to brown. Propagate by seed, rootstock division in the early spring or fall, or mid-spring stem cuttings.

Glandularia canadensis (L.) Nutt. (Rose Vervain, Sweet William, Glandularia drummondii, Glandularia lambertii, Verbena canadensis, Verbena canadensis var. atroviolacea, Verbena canadensis var. compacta, Verbena canadensis var. drummondii, Verbena canadensis var. grandiflora, Verbena canadensis var. lambertii, Verbena lambertii, Verbena ×oklahomensis)
Rose vervain grows five to 10 inches tall and spreads outward. Tubular flowers are 5-petaled, fragrant, and rose-pink in color. Blooms occur from February through September. Hairy leaves are toothed and evergreen.  It prefers partial shade and acidic moist well-drained soils. Rose vervain is a perennial in the state of Georgia due to the weather conditions. Propagate by seed, root division and by softwood cuttings. It should be mulched well in the cold season to prevent freezing.

Lilium canadense L. (Canada Lily)
This species grows up to six feet tall and has fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers from June to September. Blooms are yellow on the outside and red-orange and spotted on the inside. The flowers are slightly recurved. It has lance-shaped deciduous foliage that is flat and whorled. Plant this in sun or partial shade with wet or moist soil. Propagate by seed or by bulb division.

Mitchella repens L. (Partridgeberry)
This perennial only gets up to two inch tall and is perfect for a ground cover. It has a spread of up to 18 inches. Pink-white tubular flowers are fragrant while leaves are small, round and evergreen. It will bloom May through October. There are red berries after flowering. It prefers partial to full shade and moist or dry acidic soil. Propagate this ground-cover by seed, softwood cuttings or by root division. Partridgeberry is a Native American remedy as a tea for childbirth help.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Deciduous Native Shrubs of Georgia

Deciduous trees and shrubs are those that are not evergreen and will lose their leaves at the end of the growing season. Typically, they will go through a color change as they reach the end of their growing season. These native shrubs of Georgia are all deciduous should you be looking for non-evergreen ones for your landscape.

Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr. (Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Deciduous shrub that will grow three to 12 feet tall and is wider than it is high. It has dark green coarse leaves and white flowers that will turn pink and then tan in the course of its lifespan. Leaves look much like oak leaves. Plant this in partial shade and moist well-drained soil, and mulch well. This shrub has wonderful showy fall color from October to November. This shrub may be plagued with winter dieback, sunscald, and chlorosis in alkaline soils. Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings.

Hibiscus laevis All. (Halbered Mallow, Hibiscus militaris)
This deciduous perennial shrub grows up to six feet high with sharp-toothed leaves and cup-shaped flowers. Blooms are pink, sometimes white, and flower May through November. Blooms will open during the day and close up during the evening. It prefers sun or partial shade with moist soils. Propagate by seed after the pods open in the summer.

Hamamelis virginiana L. (American Witchhazel)
This deciduous shrub has numerous branches, and grows 15 to 25 feet tall. Flowers are yellow and strap-like with foliage light green. Branches are large and crooked. It prefers partial shade to full shade and moist acidic well-drained soil. Propagate from layering or stratified seed. Caution should be took because of its thin bark, and protected from things like weed and lawn cutting. Medicinal extracts have included salves prepared from the leaves, twigs, and bark. Twig extracts were believed to give occult powers. Dowsers practiced in the art of divining often use a fork of witchhazel wood to find water.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Drought Tolerant Native Shrubs of the Southern United States

Drought tolerant plants, trees, and shrubs are great for those gardens that are in hot and arid areas. If you live where there are long stretches without rainfall, finding drought tolerant plants for your garden or landscape will mean less supplemental watering throughout the season. These native southern shrubs are all drought tolerant and can survive between rainfalls.

Viburnum rufidulum Raf. (Rustyhaw, Rusty Black-haw, Downy Viburnum)
This drought tolerant shrub or small tree grows 18 feet tall. Leaves are glossy and leathery growing two to four inches in length. Flowers are creamy-white with two to five inches wide clusters, either flat or round. Drupes are peanut-shaped, waxy, and can be dark purple. It prefers partial shade and dry soils. Propagate by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Vaccinium elliottii Chapm. (Mayberry, High Bush Blueberry)
This drought tolerant shrub from the heath family, it grows up to 12 feet high and three to five feet wide. There are early spring flowers in clusters of pink. Berries are blue-black and less than an inch long. Leaves are an inch or under in length and stems are bright green. It prefers acidic soils in full sun or light shade. It can tolerate dense shade, but will not grow as large.  Propagate by softwood cuttings and by seed.

Ilex cassine L. (Dahoon)

This shrub has a tall structure, often getting to 30 to 40 feet. It requires a spacing zone of 15 to 20 feet. It prefers partial shade and the soil needs are adaptable. It has inconspicuous white blooms and female shrubs have red or yellow berries in winter. It is an evergreen, drought tolerant, and is a great gem for xeriscaping. This can be a smaller narrower tree, but is generally a shrub. To propagate you can direct sow seed outside in the fall. Its red fruits are sometimes used as Christmas decorations. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Evergreen Native Shrubs for the Southern Landscape

Shrubs can be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous. Deciduous shrubs lose their leaves at the turn of the season, semi-evergreens may or may not keep their leaves depending on the temperature, and evergreens will keep their leaves. If you are looking for evergreen plants for your landscape, these are all native to the southern area of the United States.

Ilex glabra (L.) Gray (Inkberry)
An evergreen shrub this will grow six to 12 feet tall with dense foliage. Tiny white clustered flowers form from February to June and red berrylike fruit shows from September to November. Leaves are leathery, glossy and lance-like in appearance. It occurs in bogs/wetlands and would be a nice addition to a bog project with some Sarracenia. It prefers partial shade and wet or moist acidic soil. Propagate by seed or cuttings. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.

Ilex opaca Ait. (American holly)
This is an evergreen shrub/small tree that will reach maturity at up to 50 feet. Greenish-white flowers start in April and orange/red four-seeded fruits appear September to December. Foliage is dark green and matte in appearance. This fruit is loved by over 18 species of game and song birds, so this is a favorite for people creating birding sanctuaries. The holly is very shade tolerant but heavy shade will affect its crown area. It prefers acidic soil. Propagate by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. It is a larval host plant to the Henry’s Elfin butterfly. WARNING: All Ilex species can be poisonous.

Kalmia latifolia L. (Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Kalmia latifolia var. laevipes)
This evergreen shrub grows from 10 to 30 feet and prefers partial shade and moist soil. It will flower white bell-shaped blooms from March to June in a cluster, and fruit from September to October. Its fruiting produces small round brown pods that release seeds. Leaves are glossy, oval and leather-like. Medicinally it was used to treat bursitis, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. Its interesting crooked branches make it an interesting choice for your garden. It is a larval host plant to the Laurel Sphinx butterfly. WARNING: It is a poisonous plant due to andromedotoxin, a resinoid and arbutin, a glycoside.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Deer Resistant Native Wildflowers for your Garden

Deer are the bane of many gardeners and landscapes, which trample and eat the plants. There are some plants that are deer resistant, but not deer proof. These three native plants and wildflowers are all deer resistant and can help maintain their beauty in landscapes with a deer population.

Aquilegia canadensis L. (Red Columbine)
Although it’s called red columbine, there are yellow blooms on this species as well. This self-sowing plant will grow from two to three feet high and prefers full shade or partial shade. It has wonderful droop blooms that hummingbirds love and will burst in color from May to June. It likes sandy well-drained soils, alkaline or neutral, and is adaptable to its surroundings. Propagate by the seed. It tolerates heat and cold and has some deer resistance.  Columbine gets its name from the word “columba” which is Latin for dove. It was believed that the petals looked like a fountain surrounded by a ring of doves.

Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. (Pale Purple Coneflower)
This flower gets up to three to four feet tall and needs a 12 to 18-inch spread zone. It prefers full sun and has average water needs. Its ray flowers are pink, magenta, or white on stiff erect stems and will appear in mid-summer to late fall. It has herbaceous smooth leaves and is deer resistant. Butterflies, songbirds, and goldfinches love this flower. To propagate you can direct sow from seed outdoors.

Helianthus angustifolius L. (Swamp Sunflower)
This flower gets up to six to eight feet tall and needs a spacing zone of nine to 12 inches. It loves full sun and has high moisture needs. Butterflies and birds love it, birds mainly for the seeds. It has bright yellow flowers in mid-fall. You can plant this in just about any soil so long as you don’t let it dry out and you keep it in partial shade. It is deer resistant. Propagate this by dividing the root ball. Cut back after bloom to really insure a healthy growth pattern the next year.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blue Native Wildflowers for Your Garden

There are many times that a gardener or landscaper has a specific color theme in mind for their gardens. These native wildflowers are all in various shades of blue and are good starters to a native plant garden or a wildflower garden. Always check to make sure they are suited to your particular hardiness range and soil type.

Amsonia ciliata Walt. (Blue Funnel Lily, Bluestar, Fringed Bluestar)
The blue funnel lily is a member of the dogbane family and grows 15 to 24 inches high. Half-inch leaves run along the entire flower stem to the star-like 5-petaled pale blue flower. Leaves are smooth and smaller toward the flower part of the stem. Flowers occur from March through June. The blue funnel lily prefers partial shade and a dry well-drained soil. Propagate by root division or seed. If by seed, germination will improve after cold moist stratification. It was named for Dr. Charles Amson, a scientific traveler and physician from the 18th century.

Campanulastrum americanum (L.) Small (American Bellflower, Tall Bellflower)
The American bellflower grows three to four feet high with lavender-blue 5-petaled flowers blooming June through August. It does attract hummingbirds to the landscape. This bellflower prefers partial shade and moist neutral soil. Propagate by seeds. This was once Campanula americana but because of the flower’s unique structure was reassigned to its own genus and became Campanulastrum americanum. It attracts bumblebees, leaf-cutting bees, butterflies and Syrphid flies.

Gentiana saponaria L. (Soapwort Gentian, Harvestbells, Gentiana saponaria var, saponaria, Dasystephana saponaria)
Soapwort gentian grows eight to 20 inches tall. It is a perennial with light green lance-like leaves and bottle-like blue-violet flowers in a terminal or cluster. The flowers only open partially. Blooms arrive August through October. It prefers partial shade and acidic fertile soil. Propagate by division or seed. Divide the root crown in fall or early spring or sow seed as soon as they are mature.