Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Native Wildflowers that Need Acidic Soil

There are two types of plants; those that thrive in acidic soil and those that wither away and die. If you’ve an acidic soil garden area or landscape and need those plants that won’t wither, these are good native plant choices for you.



Asclepias tuberosa L. (Butterfly Milkweed, Orange Milkweed)

This fine milkweed gets up to two to three feet high and needs a spacing of around 14 to 18 inches apart. Its fire-orange blooms will appear from mid-summer to early fall, and they prefer full sun. Since it is a milkweed, butterflies will flock to this plant. It is drought tolerant and prefers mildly acidic soil. Don’t be alarmed if there aren’t blooms in the first years; it may take up to three years to see flowers. You will need to find an aphid killer, as milkweeds tend to have aphids. To propagate you may divide or direct sow seeds outdoors after frost. Remember Monarch larvae can only survive on Asclepias, therefore to have these incredible butterflies you will need to have some milkweeds around. WARNING: Parts of this milkweed are poisonous.



Chamaelirium luteum (L.) Gray (Fairywand, Blazing Star)

The fairywand is a perennial that grows up to four feet with 6-inch leaves. Dense and spiky, it has white flowers that fade to yellow. Blooms are on a four to eight inch raceme for male plants, female plants have a slightly shorter raceme. Flowers bloom from March to June. It has evergreen foliage. Plant a fairywand in partial shade and acidic rich soil. The name comes from the Greek meaning “on the ground lily”. It was used by Native Americans as a uterine tonic to strengthen the reproductive system.



Helianthus strumosus L. (Woodland Sunflower, Paleleaf Sunflower)

This sunflower grows up to seven feet high with narrow eight inch long leaves. Leaves appear white on their undersides and are oval in shape. Ray flowers are yellow and in clusters on branch tips. Some flower heads can be two to four inches wide and will bloom July through September. Woodland sunflower prefers any lighting and dry acidic soils. Propagate by seed, clump division and by stem cuttings. Clump division is the easiest for this particular plant.

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