There are lots of perennial flowers suitable for a prairie-style wild garden. But it is reasonable to use those of them which are easy-care – do not need additional attention (as they say, you plant them once and forget about them). I would like to recommend some of such plants I have tasted.
Echinacea is a well-known plant using in folk medicine. Sometime it is called purple coneflower. Echinacea is native to American prairies. We used Echinacea purpurea as an ornamental flower.
It grows 3-3.3 ft. (0.9-1 m) height and has large flowers 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. Blooming starts in July and lasts almost 2 months. The plants can create a field full of attractive blooms. It attracts butterflies and bees.
The most beautiful varieties of Echinacea:
‘Sunset’ is a hybrid between two varieties of Echinacea. It has interesting large flowers with brown cone and red-orange to magenta petals.
‘Mars’ and ‘Fatal Attraction’ look as large purple daisies.
‘Robert Bloom’ has dark-orange center with crimson petals.
‘Finale White’ has creamy flowers with greenish-brown cone.
If you like something original try ‘Coconut Lime’ or ‘Green Envy’. From their names, it is clear about their flower colors.
Remember that in a prairie-style garden we use a lot of green grasses, so the perennials should be used as an accent – bright and attractive.
Echinacea likes well-drained soil and full sun areas, as grasses do. It is tolerant of heat, humidity, drought and poor soils. You should only cut back stems to promote more flowering and deadhead to prolong it.
You can grow Echinacea easily by starting from seeds. Sow the seeds in spring directly on the flower-bed. Echinacea does not like transplanting, so once planted it is best left it alone.
When you choose seeds, do not forget to take a look at hardiness.
How to grow:
1. Loosen the soil with your garden fork to 10-11 inches (30 cm) deep and mix in a 3-inch (7 cm) layer of compost. Echinacea likes humus-rich soil.
2. Plant your seeds in the well-drained soil about 1-3 ft. (0.3-0.9 m) apart. This spacing depends on expectant height of plants. Consider that seeds have low germination rate, so you should sow some additional seeds. In the garden, the seeds are started in April or May (in north regions).
3. After sowing water them very carefully.
Every 3-4 years you should divide your plants into clumps and transplant them in spring or you can sow some new seeds.
Black-eyed-Susan (lat. Rudbeckia) is well-known plant with yellow, orange or red flowers appearing in the middle of summer.
In landscape gardening, Rudbeckia hirta is popular more than other varieties because it is native to North America, so can be grown very easy.
The plant grows up to 2.3 ft. (0.7 cm). Its flowers can have diameter of 2-3 inches (5-8 cm). Black-eyed-Susan blooms from June to September (October) and attract a lot of butterflies and bees.
How to Grow
1. Seed’s germination takes 14-21 days and it needs the soil temperature of 60-65 degree F (16-18 °C), so the planting period is April to May, only in southern regions you can start seeds in March. If you want, you may start seeds indoor in March, and then transplant seedlings in the garden in May. In this case, you will see blooming earlier.
2. Black-eyed-Susan likes well-drained soil, before sowing the soil should be moistened. It prefers full sun areas, but may grow in partial sun. After sowing you should slightly cover the seeds with some soil. Spacing between plants should be around 6-8 inches (15-20 cm).
These flowers do not like to grow in the dry soil, so you need to water them regularly, but not too much, just like the other plant in your wild-style garden.
You can cut back Black-eyed Susans to one-half the size after finishing of blooming and a second, smaller bloom may occur in late fall. To prolong blooming, you may deadhead plants, but leave some dry flowers for self-sowing. Cut back the whole plant in fall.
Interesting varieties of Black-eyed-Susan:
‘Sonora’ and ‘Prairie Sun’ have attractive yellow flowers.
‘Becky Mixed’ offers a variety of colors, such as lemon-yellow, dark-red and reddish-brown.
If you want a dwarf type, take ‘Toto’.
Coreopsis is native to North and Central America. Its flowers are usually yellow or slightly orange. Its height may vary from 18 to 40 inches (45-100 cm).
Coreopsis blooms from May to June. It prefers full sun places and well-drained soil. Growing and care for this plant are the same as for Black-eyed-Susan.
In landscape gardening, we use three varieties: Coreopsis verticillata, Coreopsis grandiflora and Coreopsis lanceolate.
‘Baden Gold’ (pale-yellow flowers), ‘Early Sunrise’ (semi-double yellow flowers), ‘Sunburst’ (orange flowers) and ‘Mayfield Giant’ (bright-yellow flowers) are popular varieties of Coreopsis grandiflora.
‘Sternthaler’ (bi-color flowers), ‘Golden Queen’ (yellow-gold flowers), ‘Rotkehlchen’ (yellow flowers) and ‘Goldfink’ (bright-yellow flowers) are interesting varieties of Coreopsis lanceolate.
‘Moonbeam’ (buttery yellow flowers), ‘Zagreb’ (golden-yellow flowers) are original varieties of Coreopsis verticillata.
You can also try Coreopsis rosea ‘Nana’, if you want a dwarf variety with mauve-pink flowers.
Veronica is also known as speedwell. It is a carefree and easy-growing plant. It grows in clusters 1-3 ft. (0.3-0.9 m) tall.
Veronica blooms from spring to fall. Small varieties are used as ground covers.
Some beautiful varieties of Veronica:
‘Royal Candles’ grows 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) tall. It gives outstanding blooming with deep purple-blue flowers.
‘Crater Lake Blue’ is a mat-forming plant that grows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) tall with beautiful deep blue flowers.
‘Sunny Border Blue’ is a clump-forming plant that grows to 20 inches (50 cm) tall and bears dark violet-blue flowers from early summer to late fall.
‘Red Fox’ has dark-pink flowers and grows as a mat-forming perennial to 12 inches (30 cm) tall.
Growing tips for Veronica
You can easy buy this plant in your local nursery and transplant it in your garden in spring.
For planting, you should dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant’s pot. The top of the root ball should be on the same level with the soil surface. Water it thoroughly after planting.
This plant needs deadheading to prolong blooming. In fall (before the first frost) cut back veronica’s stems to 1-2 inches (3-6 cm) above the soil line.
Oregano (lat. Origanum laevigatum) is a woody-based perennial plant growing to 50–60 cm (20–24 in) tall. It is native to Turkey, Cyprus, and Syria.
It has strongly aromatic leaves, and loose clusters of pink funnel-shaped flowers. These plants bloom throughout the summer.
You know that this plant is used as a culinary herb. In landscape design, it is used as an ornamental plant in herb and wild-style gardens and as groundcovers. It prefers sunny places and well-drained soils.
‘Rose Kuppel’, ‘Hopley′s Purple’ and ‘Herrenhausen’ are popular varieties of Origanum laevigatum.
You have to cut back old, flowered stems in early spring. The plants purchased in a nursery are ready for planting in the garden.
Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family. We can find Salvia throughout the Americas and Europe. It can be annual, perennial herbs or woody subshrubs. For prairie-style garden, we use Salvia nemorosa because it is a hardier type.
‘May Night’ is a vigorous plant with numerous purplish-blue flowers.
‘Caradonna’ has bright dark-purple flowers.
If you want flowers with true blue color, you should try ‘Blue Hill’.
Different varieties can be bought in your local nursery; you should only check its hardiness zone.
Salvia is a drought-tolerant plant growing up to 3 ft. (0.9 m). It starts blooming from early summer and it lasts to fall. These plants may show re-blooming, so you may deadhead these plants.
They can be used for container gardening as well as for open areas. Spacing between plants should be 18-24 inches (45-60 cm).
Monarda is native to North America. It is also known as bee balm or horsemint.
The plant grows erect to heights of 8-35 inches (20-90 cm). Some cultivated forms have double flowers. Its color varies, and can be red, light purple or pink.
For landscape design, we use Monarda didyma with bright red flowers, Monarda fistulosa with pink flowers and Monarda pactinata with purple ones. These plants are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
Leaves of this plant you can use for making tea, but first they have to be dried. Fresh flowers are good for green or fruit salads and for backing.
There are dwarf and tall varieties. The firsts are very good for container gardens and can be used for borders. There are too many forms of Monarda including hybrids. Almost all of them are very good for prairie-style gardens. The plants bloom in July-August.
Tall: ‘Blaustrumpf’, ‘Praerienacht’, ‘Pawnee’, ‘Panorama’, ‘Pink Supreme’, ‘Fireball’.
Dwarf: ‘Pink Prinzes’.
Growing tips for Monarda
Monarda grows on sunny places but it tolerates part-shade. It likes moist soil and dislike windy areas. Because of the wind, its stems may twist and distort.
Spacing between plants should be at least 12 inches (30 cm). It is desirable to plant some plant in front of Monarda because of its stems which tend to be bare on the bottoms.
In the late fall, you should cut plants back to within 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) of the ground. For a bushier shrub, you may pinch the tips of the stems when new growth appears each spring.
Persicaria gives bloom in summer and fall. It is also called knotweed. Varieties of Persicaria can be founded nearly worldwide. They can grow 2-3 ft. (0.6-0.9 m) tall.
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Rosea’ is a tall, clump-forming perennial with soft-pink flowers.
Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ grows up to 35 inches (90 cm). It has dense spikes of small pink flowers.
Persicaria grows in any moist soil in full sun or partial shade. It needs .cutting back after flowering.
Knotweed should be planted in fairly rich, constantly moist but well-drained soil that has been supplemented with compost at planting time.
Water your plants regularly and thoroughly! Remove spent flower spikes regularly to encourage your knotweed plants to continue blooming.
Established clumps of knotweed can be easily divided for propagation purposes or to contain growth, in the early spring or in fall.
Persicaria’s seeds can be sown directly in the garden in the late summer or in spring, after all danger of frost has passed.
If you want to grow seedlings, sow seeds indoors onto a moistened growing medium in early spring, barely covering them with good soil. Keep the growing mix evenly moist throughout the entire process.
Maintain a temperature in the growing medium of 65-75 degree F (19-24 °C) until germination, which takes 3-4 weeks.
Achillea is native to Europe and North America and also known as yarrow. It has frilly aromatic leaves. This plant gives large and flat clusters of tiny flowers in July. Blooming lasts till August-September.
Color of flower varies, it can be white, yellow, pink, orange or red. The plant grows 2.6-3 ft. (0.8-0.9 m) tall, but may have dwarf forms.
Achillea, as one said, influences beneficially upon surrounding plants. It is the truth. In landscape design, we use Achillea nobilis, Achillea macrocephala, Achillea millefolium and Achillea filipendulina.
Achillea millefolium ‘Lachsschonheit’ is an outstanding hybrid from ‘Galaxy’ series. Flower color is salmon-pink, and then it becomes creamy. ‘Appleblossom’ is very close to it.
Achillea millefolium ‘Fanal’ has bright red flowers.
Achillea filipendulina ‘Coronation Gold’ has large 6-inches (15 cm) clusters of old-gold color.
There are so many really good varieties of Achillea like ‘Gold Plate’, ‘Flowers of Sulphur’ and others.
Growing tips for Achillea
Achillea, like the others plants from prairies, likes sunny places and well-drained loamy soils. In dry weather it needs to be watered.
Deadhead in time to protect your garden from achillea’s self-sowing. Every 3-4 year you should divide bushes and transplant them.
Also, check out our planting guide for perennials.