Including wildflowers in the home garden adds beauty, brings surprise, attracts pollinators, and creates a natural looking, informal landscape. If you select a location to match their natural growing conditions— sun/shade, wet/dry, open area/woodland, and elevation—wildflowers easily co-exist with typical garden plantings and require little maintenance.
Where to get wildflowers
Start wildflowers from purchased seeds, or divisions, stem or root cuttings from friends. It is often illegal to dig wildflowers from the wild because of concerns about depleting natural populations! Purchase plants only from reputable nurseries that do not collect stock from the wild and label their plants “100% nursery propagated.”
Choosing wildflowers for your garden
Some wildflowers are fairly easy to establish. These include showy perennials such as:
Many of these are available at local and mail-order nurseries, but not all species will be native to our area and many will be hybridized, or cultivars selected because they are unusual or showier.
If you enjoy including self-seeding plants in your garden, some shorter-lived Coreopsis and Rudbeckia species, as well as columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), blazing star (Liatris spicate), cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis), and bird’s foot violet (Viola pedata) will persist and often spread in your garden through reseeding.
Low-growing wildflowers can make attractive groundcovers, too. Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) has tiny white flowers followed by bright red berries that stand out against evergreen leaves.
Other wildflowers, like lady slipper orchids, are much more difficult to propagate and/or transplant and are best admired in their natural habitats!
Article written by Beth Leonard, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.
Mellichamp, Larry (2014). Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden. Timber Press.
Search the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener website for these wildflowers highlighted in earlier blogs:
- Bee balm
- Butterfly weed
- Dwarf crested iris
- Joe Pye weed
- Solomon’s seal
If you’re interested in encouraging wildlife in your garden: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/landscaping-for-wildlife-with-native-plants