15 Easy to Grow Southern Wildflowers
Native Perennials for the Hot, Humid South
Here are 15 easy to grow native perennial flowers that are guaranteed to thrive in the hot, humid areas of the coastal southern United States and in other parts of North America, too.
As we move toward sustainability, native plants are becoming more popular substitutes for the expensive labor intensive, ecologically unfriendly exotic plants of the past. Sustainable gardens are "In" and formal, ornamental gardens are "Out".
This is the first page in a series of articles about easy to grow southern perennial wildflowers. Links to other, more detailed pages about each of the native flowering perennials that are discussed below are provided.
All photos by Y.L. Bordelon, All Rights Reserved
Landscaping with Local Native Plants is "IN" and Has Many Benefits
ZigZag Iris, Iris brevicaulis
Why Landscape with Native Plants?
Landscaping with native plants is the earth friendly way to garden. It is also perfect for today's busy homeowner, who wants a backyard garden sanctuary, but just doesn't have the time or money to maintain a formal, ornamental garden. With native plants you get the best of both worlds: beauty with low cost and low maintenance.
Some of the many pluses of native plants include:
- drought resistance
- attracts butterflies and birds
- low cost
- low maintenance
- helps reduce emissions because there is little lawn to cut
- no need to fertilize
- no need for pesticides or weed killers
and I could go on and on. For more information about gardening with native plants visit some of the articles featured below.
Wildflowers of Louisiana Poster on Zazzle
Gardening with Native Plants of the South
Gardening with Native Plants of the South is a "must have" book for any southerner who wants to use native plants in the landscape.
Attracts Butterflies and other pollinators
This hardy, fall blooming perennial comes in shades of blue, purple and white. They will grow in many types of soil in sun to part shade. The small white ones grow well in wet woods. Some are low growing and mound shaped and many of the blue and purple will grow 6-8 feet tall. Asters can be pruned early in the year, before July 4th, to form a bushy shape.
White Fall Aster, Aster eriodes - White, small mounding plant found in wet woodlands
Blue Aster, Aster praeltus - Very tall purple-blue Aster found in many soils and conditions. Great for the back of a perennial border.
Savanna Aster, Symphyotrichum chapmanii - Beautiful large light purple flowers on a small attractive plant. Found in pineland savannahs.
Boltonia, Boltonia asteroides - airy, white aster-like perennial growing in moist conditions in full sun.
Monarch on Asters Poster on Zazzle
Butterfly favorite, seeds eaten by song birds
These beautiful, bright golden yellow flowers will enhance any garden. Coreopsis comes in many sizes, from the small Eared coreopsis, dwarf tickseed to the larger, more hardy Lanceleaf coreopsis and common coreopsis. Most bloom in the spring.
Eared coreopsis, dwarf tickseed, Coreopsis auriculata - 6 inches to 2 feet in bloom, sun or shade, but happier in part sun, moist, acid soil
Lanceleaf Coreopsis, C. lanceolata - Very hardy perennial, that will survive in clay and dry soils in full sun or part shade. Propagate by seed or division.
Common Coreopsis, C. grandiflora - Same as Lanceleaf Coreopsis, great for adverse conditions
Annual Coreopsis or Prairie Tickseed, Coreopsis tinctoria - is NOT a perennial. Grows in full sun or part shade, start the seeds in fall or early spring. Once established it will usually reseed on its own.
Coreopsis lanceolata Poster on Zazzle
Swamp Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia
Sunflowers, Helianthus species - Butterflies are attracted by the flowers and song birds eat the seeds.
The sunflower family is the largest wildflower family and grow in a variety of conditions. Most bloom in the late summer and fall.
Swamp Sunflower, Narrow-leaved Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia - Very tall and aggressive plants with golden yellow flowers which grows in sun or shade. Suitable for a natural setting in a large area. It is probably the most common native sunflower in south Louisiana, but there are many others that can be grown in the home landscape. You can find the link below for a page I wrote called October Blooming Native Sunflowers. It features more varieties of sunflowers.
Bumblebee on Sunflower Poster on Zazzle
Links to Asters, Coreopsis and Sunflowers
- Coreopsis - Hardy and Beautiful Wildflowers
The Coreopsis family contains many beautiful and hardy native perennial flowering plants. Most members have golden yellow flowers, though one that is native to the south is pink. These easy to grow flowering perennials attract butterflies and other..
- October Blooming Native Sunflowers
Native sunflowers (Helianthus) color the landscape in October. On this page you'll find many photos and much information about using sunflowers in the landscape and about the animals that use them.
- Wild Asters of Autumn
Photos of wild asters, butterflies and bees taken by the author are featured on this page. Information about identifying and growing the various native asters of Louisiana is also provided.
Native Louisiana Irises
Hummingbirds, Orioles and Butterflies use the flowers. Water birds eat the seeds
The five species of Irises that are native to the coastal Southern United States are happy in wet areas or in flower beds. Irises grow from a rhizome and most have evergreen leaves. They grow in full sun to part shade and like moist soils. In the wild, native irises hybridize freely. The Louisiana Irises include both natural and many-made hybrids of the native varieties.They bloom in spring.
Copper Iris, Iris fulva - A deep copper-red iris, that is used by hummingbirds. It grows naturally in areas that are seasonally flooded, but does well in a flower bed or a rain garden.
Abbeyville Red, Super fulva, I. nelsonii - Colors from coppery red, brown to deep purple. Flowers are larger than the normal I. fulva. Plants were discovered in the area around Abbeyville, LA.
Southern Blue Flag Iris, I. virginica - Colors from almost white to dark blue. They grow well in wet places.
Zig-Zag Iris, I. brevicaulis - These dwarf plants with bright blue flowers are upland Irises that are happy in drier conditions.
Big Blue Iris, I. giganticaerulea - Giant blue iris of the swamps and marshes
Red LA Iris Poster on Zazzle
East Gulf Coastal Plain Wildflowers
Blazing Star, Liatris spp.
Attracts Butterflies and other pollinators
Blazing Star, Gayfeather Liatris pycnostachya - In late summer through fall a tall lavender spike of flowers shoots up from a grass-like clump of leaves. Liatris grows from a corm and is common in the pine-land savannahs. It does well in flower beds and rain gardens.
Liatris spicata also grows well in the south and some think that the blooms are more beautiful than L. pycnostachya.
Bumblebee on Liatris Postcard on Zazzle
Attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies
Blooms in late summer and fall.
Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis - Beautiful red flowers on plants that can grow in garden soil or a wetlands, in part sun.
Big Blue Lobelia, L. siphilitica - Tall spikes of blue flowers. Similar growing conditions as L. cardinalis.
Pale Lobelia, Lobelia appendiculata - Tall spikes of bluish white flowers in late spring (April to June) in wet fields, prairie and pinelands. Can be grown in sunny rain gardens or low, damp parts of the yard.
Cardinal Flower Poster on Zazzle
Native Perennials for the Southeast
Louisiana Iris, Blazing Star & Lobelia Links
- Native Louisiana Irises
Native Irises grow over the entire northern hemisphere, and there are a number of especially lovely species that are native to Louisiana and the other coastal southern states. While only 4 (some experts say 5) species make up what is known as &qu
- Blazing Star Liatris
The long, beautiful purplish-pink spikes of the Blazing Star flower are often used in flower arrangements. Who would dream that this gorgeous, showy flower was a native perennial? There are 22 species of Liatris that grow in the southeastern United..
- Native Cardinal Flower and Other Lobelias
Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) and the other members of the Lobelia family (most of which are some shade of blue) love moisture. These native perennial wildflowers are at home in ditches and beside waterways, but also make lovely additions to.
Attractive to Butterflies and Hummingbirds
Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa - White to lavender balls of flowers in spring. Sun to part shade, well drained soil. All parts of the plant make a delicious tea. Unlike M. didyma, M. fistulosa will bloom consistently in the coastal south.
Bee Balm, Monarda didyma - Red Bee Balm grows in full to part sun, well drained soil. Blooms in spring.
Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata - Spotted Horsemint grows in full sun and is drought resistant. Blooms in late summer and fall.
Hummer Moth on Monarda Postcard
Attracts Butterflies and other pollinators
Phlox blooms in spring and is usually putting on a show when the weather warms up a bit. Phlox looks best planted in masses with other taller flowers like Coreopsis.
Blue Phlox, Louisiana Phlox, Phlox divaricata - Phlox divaricata comes in colors ranging from pink to purplish blue. Grows in sun to part shade in well drained soil.
Downy Phlox, Phlox pilosa - Colors range from pink to purple and white. Prefers sandy acid soil, rich or poor and is drought resistant.
Blue Phlox divaricata on Zazzle
Black-eyed Susans & Coneflower, Rudbeckia spp.
Attracts Butterflies and other pollinators
Blooms in spring and summer
Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta - can be a perennial, but is usually an annual. Reseeds easily. Full sun to part shade, well drained soil.
Orange Rudbeckia, Rudbeckia fulgida - More reliable perennial. Full sun to part shade, well drained soil.
Giant Coneflower, Rudbeckia maxima - can grow to 6 ft. tall. Flowers have a large brown cone shaped seed head. Grows in moist well drained soil in full sun.
Black-eyed Susans Poster on Zazzle
Monarda, Phlox & Rudbeckia Links
- Bee Balm Monarda for the South
Monardas are perennial wildflowers and are members of the mint family (note the square stem) so they are considered an herb. All parts of the plant are aromatic. Butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators are attracted to the nectar rich...
- Phlox - Flowering Native Perennial
Phlox divaricata and P. pilosa are two of the lovely flowering perennials that are native to the southern United States. Both will burst into glorious, sweet smelling blooms in spring. Butterflies and other pollinators are attracted to the blooms...
- Rudbeckias for the South
The Rudbeckia species contains several striking, easy to grow perennials whose golden yellow flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators and whose seeds are eaten by a variety of small song birds. Many members of the species are drought...
Wild Roses, Rosa spp.
Edible hips and petals, attracts pollinators
Blooms in spring.
Carolina Rose, Rosa carolina - single pink flowers on small bushes. Forms clusters by underground runners. Sun to part shade.
Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris - semi-double pink flowers on draping bushes. Grows in moist, well drained soil, full sun to part shade.
Native Carolina Rose Poster on Zazzle
Skullcap, Scutellaria spp.
Skullcap gets its name from the brown cap-like seed pod that clings to the stems after the seeds are released. It is one of my favorite blue wildflowers and it will grow in many soils and conditions.
Rough Skullcap, Scutellaria integrefolia - blue clusters of flowers in spring on 1-2 foot plants. Full sun to part shade.
Rough Skullcap Scutellaria integrifolia Poster on Zazzle
Salvia and Native Bee Poster on Zazzle
Hummingbird and Butterfly favorite
Blooms from spring to frost
Scarlett Sage, Salvia coccinea - flowers are red, white or coral. Grows in well drained soil and is drought tolerant. Full sun or part shade, tender perennial.
Lyre-leaf Sage, Salvia lyrata - early blooming light blue spikes of flowers shoot up from rosettes of lyre shaped leaves in spring. It can be used as a ground cover in shady or in lieu of exotic turf grass. After flowers fade, cut with the lawnmower set up high and the leaf rosettes continue to cover the area. Lyre-leaf Sage signals the return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in spring.
Native Roses, Skullcap and Sage Links
- Native Southern Sages
If you want a beautiful flowering perennial that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, then scarlet and lyre-leaf sage are the plants for you. Here you'll find photos and info about these beauties.
- Hip Old Roses for Sustainable Landscaping
Old and Antique Roses are making a big come back as homeowners want to grow attractive, low maintenance, sustainable rose bushes to add to their landscape. Many of the old varieties of roses have survived, unattended for years in cemeteries and on...
- Skullcap - Perennial Wildflower
Skullcap or Scutellaria is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family. It has clusters of beautiful blue flowers and interesting skullcap (or helmet) shaped seed pods. Different varieties live all over the United States, but here in...
Scarlet Sage Seeds
Scarlet sage or Salvia coccinea flowers are used by hummingbirds and butterflies.
Indian Pink, Spigelia marilandica - Hummingbird favorite, Beautiful clusters of red flowers with yellow throats bloom from spring into summer. Prefers rich, moist woodland settings, shade to part sun.
Indian Pink Print on Zazzle
Blooms in late spring. Some gardeners who plant for butterflies say that Stokesia is a MUST in the butterfly garden.
Stokes Aster, Stokesia laevis - is a low growing drought resistant biennial with lovely blue flowers which attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Stokes Aster, Stokesia laevis Print on Zazzle
Violets, Viola spp.
Attracts Butterflies and Other Pollinators and is edible
Members of the Viola family (Violets) are some of the first flowers to appear in early spring. Violets are an excellent ground cover for shady or part sunny areas. The flowers can be blue, purple or white. The leaves and flowers are edible. Violas are the host plant for the Variegated Fritillary Butterfly.
Birdfoot Violet, Viola pedata - likes full sun. The leaves are deeply toothed like the foot of a bird. Spring flowers are pansy like and come in shades of blue, with one bicolored variety that has purple upper petals.
Early Blue Violet, viola palmata - grows in high open shade and has early spring dark blue flowers. Foliage is deeply toothed, but more hand like than birdfoot violet.
Langlois Violet, Viola langloisii - grows in hardwood forest areas and pale blue flowers bloom in early spring. Leaves are ovate-triangular like most violas.
White Bog Violet, Viola primulifolia - is a violet of the wetlands in both pine and hardwood areas. White blooms occur from late winter through spring. Leaves are triangular, but more blade like than blue violets and grow from white cord-like stolons.
Blue Violets Postcard on Zazzle
Indian Pink and Violet Links
- Native Louisiana Irises
Native Louisiana irises grow in wetlands and swamps. They are hardy and colorful perennial plants. Here you will find photos and information about growing this attractive rhizome.
- Indian Pink, Perennial Wildflower
Beautiful native Indian pink deserves a place in any garden. It attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators and is a joy to behold.
- Native Violas and Violets of Louisiana
Members of the Viola family (Violets) are some of the first flowers to appear in early spring. Violets are an excellent ground cover plant for shady or part sunny areas and can be used in place of expensive, high maintenance exotic turf grass. The...
Favorite Wildflower Poll
Which of the 15 wildflowers is your favorite?
Red-Violet Native Iris
Native Irises come in many colors and sizes. The colors range from almost white to dark purple with many shades in between.
Red-violet LA Iris Print on Zazzle
Weeds of the South Book
One man's weeds are another's wildflowers. This is a great guide to the weeds of the South.
© 2009 Yvonne L B