Skip to main content

Create a wildflower garden bursting with color and native plants! Here’s your guide

Plant these flowers for a lovely wildflower garden

The word wildflower probably brings to mind images of lush meadows and fields dotted with bright colors, but did you know you can bring a piece of that to your own garden? Wildflower gardens are easy to grow and great for the environment. You can even grow some wildflowers in pots or containers, so you can grow them no matter what kind of space you’re living in.

If you’re looking for a place to start learning about wildflowers, you’re in the right spot! We’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started on your very own wildflower garden.

Beautiful light purple asters
Flower_Garden / Shutterstock

What is a wildflower garden?

Wildflower gardens are, as the name suggests, gardens planted exclusively (or mostly) with wildflowers. These kinds of flowers grow in the wild and aren’t cultivated by humans. This means the flower variety can (or could previously) be found in the wild, and that people didn’t create the flowers intentionally through cross-pollination or other means. Instead, the flowers evolved naturally on their own.

A mix of colorful wildflowers
Anjo Kan / Shutterstock

Planting your seeds

One of the benefits of wildflower gardens is how low maintenance they are. Wildflowers have evolved to live on their own, which means they don’t need much effort on your part to plant them.

Most wildflowers don’t need very much, or any, cover over their seeds in order to germinate. Instead, you can just scatter them over the surface of your garden. You can add a thin layer of soil over the top of them, but if you do, it should be less than a quarter inch. If you want a wildflower garden that doesn’t look quite so wild, you can carefully lay your seeds out instead of scattering them.

Wildflower seeds also tend to be small, which makes them more likely to blow or wash away. Water the ground before you scatter your seeds rather than after. This helps the seeds stick where they land, but it also means you won’t accidentally wash the seeds away when you water them.

Dainty white asters that resemble daisies
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Asters

You can find asters in nearly every wildflower seed mix, and it’s easy to see why. These flowers come in many colors and are closely related to daisies. Although most asters are native to Europe, the New England aster is native to the U.S. and thrives in the mild to chilly weather of the Northeast. They prefer rich, moist soil and can be planted in either full sun or partial shade. If you want to grow them in a hotter climate, be sure to provide them with shade in the afternoon.

Orange and red blanket flowers
GoranH / Pixabay

Blanket flowers

Blanket flowers are beautiful orange and red flowers that are native to the Great Plains states, but can be found to the north and east of them as well. If you live in a dry area with poor soil, then the blanket flower is a perfect wildflower for you. It thrives in hot, dry weather, prefers full sun, and will grow in soil that other plants dislike. So even if you’ve had difficulty getting other plants to grow in your garden, you’ll likely see success with a blanket flower!

Dark pink lupine flowers
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Lupine flowers

Lupine, with its tall, colorful flower spikes, is another popular wildflower. It’s native to the Northwest, from Northern California up to Alaska. However, it can grow successfully across the U.S. If you want to grow lupine flowers, you should know that they prefer cool, moist climates. Full sun gives you the brightest flowers, but they can grow in partial shade as well. If you want to grow lupine flowers farther south, be sure to give them some shade and water them more frequently to help them cope with the heat.

A couple orange poppies
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Poppies

Poppy flowers are incredibly easy to grow and beautiful to see. As a result, they’re included in almost every wildflower mix. They thrive in full sun and moist soil, and removing dead flowers encourages them to bloom even more vigorously. The main issue with poppy flowers is actually that they grow too easily and will spread across your garden or yard if given the chance! Most poppy varieties are native to Europe and are considered invasive in the U.S. due to how quickly they spread, but the California poppy is native to the American Southwest.

A field of black-eyed Susans
Julianne Caust / Shutterstock

Black-eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans are relatives of asters, and they require similar care. They prefer full sun and moist soil, but they can tolerate some drought. Black-eyed Susans are native to the eastern and central regions of the U.S., but are easy to grow even in the Southwest. Some varieties can grow tall and benefit from a support stake, but short varieties will grow just fine on their own.

Now you’re ready to start planning and planting your very own wildflower garden! Choose your plants, scatter your seeds, and watch the flowers grow and bloom. You’ll be amazed at the results, and at how little work it takes to achieve them. Your local pollinators will be thrilled, and if you let the flowers self-seed, you won’t need to replant your garden for quite a while.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
9 tasty companion plants for tomatoes in your summer garden
Plant these next to your tomatoes for a thriving harvest
Tomato plant preparing for harvest

When building out your summer garden, you might have tomatoes on your mind. With ample sunlight, well-draining soil, and a sturdy trellis, you’ll be able to start a healthy and delicious crop. Luckily, there’s no shortage of delicious tomato companion plants out there that help repel pests, bring in pollinators, and improve fruit yield. When planning your garden beds and borders around tomatoes, here are the best plants to keep by their side.
1. Borage

Borage, a flowering herb with star-shaped blue flowers, goes well with tomatoes because it helps repel destructive tomato hornworms, which feed on tomato leaves and fruits. It also attracts pollinators thanks to its blossoms. You’ll commonly find tomatoes, borage, and squash planted together because squash shares similar care requirements as tomatoes and benefits from borage's pollinator-attracting properties. What's great about borage is that you can also use it as a garnish on your dishes.
2. Basil

Read more
Bee balm is a fantastic addition to a pollinator garden – what to know
Build your pollinator garden with beautiful bee balm
Scarlet bee balm

Pollinator gardens are great for your yard and the environment, and there are many wonderful plants you can choose from when planning one. Bee balm is a popular choice, and it has many benefits. If you’re starting a pollinator garden or curious about adding bee balm to an existing one, then this is the guide for you. We’ll explain everything you need to know about planting and caring for bee balm, so you can enjoy this beautiful flower and all the benefits that come with it.
The benefits of bee balm

In addition to being beautiful, bee balm’s vibrant red, pink, and purple flowers are highly attractive to pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds are drawn to their flowers. Bee balm is easy to grow and will spread to fill an area. However, it doesn't spread as aggressively as other members of the mint family, making it easier to control. Additionally, some bee balm species are native to North America! In particular, scarlet bee balm is native to the eastern side of the U.S. and Canada. A few other species are native as well, but scarlet bee balm is one of the more popular bee balm species for gardens.
Planting bee balm

Read more
If you want a garden that blooms year-round, plant these flowers
Here's how to strategically map out your garden for blooms throughout the year
Blooming perennial flower garden along a walkway

If you love gardening and appreciate flowers in spring and summer, why not grow a four-season garden? It's possible to have a bright, colorful landscape throughout the year if you plan for it. Plant selection is the key. By choosing a diverse collection of shrubs, perennials, trees, and annuals that bloom in different seasons, you can map out a garden with year-round flowers. Let’s get started.
Finding flowers for a year-round garden

Observe your garden
Before buying anything, get to know your garden’s growing conditions, starting with your climate zone. Also, observe to understand its lighting. Where is it shady in the afternoon? Which parts get hot sunshine all day? Do you have spots that get little or no direct sunlight? Keep in mind, too, that the sunlight changes throughout the year with the rise and fall of the sun’s angle. Plus, you should take into account how leaves grow and fall from deciduous trees.
Mix it up
In order to cover all the seasons, you’ll need to choose a diverse selection of flora from different plant categories. Some of the best flowers for late winter and early spring come from trees, shrubs, and bulbs. In spring, summer, and fall, flowers abound among annuals and perennials. Winter flowers, not uncommon in mild climates, are rare for northern gardeners. Colorful fruits and foliage can help to fill the void.
Invest in native and perennial plants
Annuals can be attractive additions to your garden, but they usually won't last for more than one growing season. If you want to cut back on the time you spend planting, consider investing in native and perennial plants, which should come back every year in your garden. Because they naturally come from your area, native plants feature the added benefit of providing food and shelter to native wildlife creatures, such as birds. To find native plants, you can use tools like the Native Plant Finder or ask your local nursery if they carry any native plants. Many nurseries will also have an entire section dedicated to perennials for their local region.
Beyond flowers
A garden’s appeal goes beyond flowers. Plants offer a host of other interesting elements, like foliage color and texture, varying sizes and forms, interesting branch structure, motion in the wind, attraction to wildlife, and scents associated with flowers and foliage.
Get inspired
Look for inspiration in public gardens, parks, and garden centers. If you see an interesting plant around town, snap a pic and take it to your local garden center for help with identification. Be sure your photos are in focus and show details such as the overall plant size and shape. Your local nurseries may have it on hand, or they might be able to order it for you.
Suggestions for flowers throughout the year

Read more