Growing Wildflowers: List of Native Plants

Wildflower growing tips and favorite species

April 22, 2019
Wildflowers Native List

Native wildflowers make themselves at home when they’re happily married to the soil and climatic conditions in which they’ve evolved . When there is a suitable match of plant and growing conditions, it’s easy.

Why Native Wildflowers

There are more than 6,000 native wildflower species growing all across America. They occur naturally in their climate so they’re are very resilient in all weather conditions.

Native wildflowers are not only beautiful but also attract pollinators and nurture the landscape for birds. Without native plants and the insects that co-evolve with them, local birds and wildlife couldn’t survive..

A Wildflower Meadow in a Can?

Ignore those ads promising that one container full of seeds will turn into a meadow of wildflowers. Establishing any plant community takes prep work and maintenance.

Also, be aware that a wildflower meadow is not neat and tidy. Nature goes through dormancy, and nature can be messy.

Be a Good Plant Shopper

“Preserve it in the wild.
Perpetuate it in your garden.”

That’s the motto of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Shop at reputable native-plant nurseries rather than kidnapping plants from the wild. Collecting wild plants has already seriously diminished and even eliminated whole colonies of natives, and it’s not even very successful.

Find a native-plant nursery which uses plants propagated from wild populations within 50 miles (or as close as possible) to your garden. Look for plants that are “nursery propagated” not “nursery grown.”

For a list of native-plant nurseries, see the Wildflower Center’s suppliers directory.

Before you Design

Before you spend any money on plants or seeds, you must understand the character of your site and your soil. If you don’t already know if your soil is acid or alkaline, get it tested. Your local cooperative extension service will run a soil test for free or for a nominal cost.

When Bad Soil is Good

Some native plants thrive in what we might consider a lean or poor soil. When you’re growing them in your garden, don’t fertilize, even with organic material. It actually encourage the growth of weeds.

Favorite Native Plants

The following native plants are widely adaptable. To make sure that a wildflower is recommended for your area, however, we advise consulting your local Cooperative Extension Service.

Native Perennials

Blue star
New England aster
Wild ginger
Cabbage-leaf coneflower
Compass plant
Cup plant
Indian pink
Ladies’-tresses orchid


Native Geophytes (Bulbs)

Dutchman’s breeches
Whippoorwill flower
Yellow trillium
Canada lily
Desert lily
Spider lily
Crinum lily

Native Ferns

Narrow beach fern
Male fern
Glade fern
Lady fern
Goldie’s fern
Five-finger maiden-hair fern
Southern beech fern
Interrupted fern
Rusty woodsia
Deer fern
Maiden fern

For a list of invasive wildflowers, consult the Web site You may also wish to reference the USDA Web site for a state-by-state list of noxious weeds.

See our video demonstrating How to Grow Wildflowers!


This article was originally published in 2009 and has been updated.

2020 Almanac Calendar Club

Reader Comments

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thank you for your helpful

thank you for your helpful postings I love this stuff


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Hello, is the last week of

Hello, is the last week of July too late to plant wildflowers? Or should I wait until after Sept to fall plant for next year?

Thank you

It will depend on your

It will depend on your climate, and the species that you are planting. For best advice for your area, you might contact your county's Cooperative Extension. See:
In general, spring and fall planting is best, but some seeds might do fine if planted in summer, as long as you are diligent about watering.