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15 Easy to Grow Southern Wildflowers

Updated on March 7, 2015
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

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

Source

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:

  • hardiness
  • 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

A few of the beautiful wildflowers of Louisiana.
A few of the beautiful wildflowers of Louisiana. | Source

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.

Asters

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

Monarchs and other butterflies flock to wild aster flowers.
Monarchs and other butterflies flock to wild aster flowers. | Source

Coreopsis

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

Masses of coreopsis flowers appear in spring.
Masses of coreopsis flowers appear in spring. | Source

Swamp Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolia

Source

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

Bumblebees and other native pollinators are attracted to native sunflowers.
Bumblebees and other native pollinators are attracted to native sunflowers. | Source

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

Source

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

Source

Lobelia spp.

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

Source

Native Perennials for the Southeast

Monarda spp.

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

Hummingbird moth visiting Monarda fistulosa.
Hummingbird moth visiting Monarda fistulosa. | Source

Phlox spp.

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

Source

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

Source

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

Source

Skullcap, Scutellaria spp.

Attracts pollinators

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

Source

Salvia and Native Bee Poster on Zazzle

Source

Sage Family

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.

Scarlet Sage Seeds

400 SCARLET SAGE (Lady-In-Red Salvia / Blood Sage / Red Texas Sage) Salvia Coccinea Flower Seeds
400 SCARLET SAGE (Lady-In-Red Salvia / Blood Sage / Red Texas Sage) Salvia Coccinea Flower Seeds

Scarlet sage or Salvia coccinea flowers are used by hummingbirds and butterflies.

 

Indian Pink

Hummingbird Favorite

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

Source

Stokesia

Attracts Butterflies

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

Source

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

Source

Favorite Wildflower Poll

Which of the 15 wildflowers is your favorite?

See results

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

Source

Weeds of the South Book

Weeds of the South (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book) (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book Ser.)
Weeds of the South (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book) (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Book Ser.)

One man's weeds are another's wildflowers. This is a great guide to the weeds of the South.

 

© 2009 Yvonne L. B.

Let us know if we planted a seed....

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    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 8 years ago

      What beautiful photos!!! 5 stars! I might have to get some of those Stokesia for my butterfly garden!!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      I love flowers of all kinds. Gorgeous photos here.

    • profile image

      ThomasC 8 years ago

      Great lens! You always make very beautiful lenses! Blessed

      ThomasC

    • Nochipra profile image

      Nochipra 8 years ago

      Wow! Some really beautiful flowers! My parents just got a greenhouse, I bet my mom would like to see this lens:)

    • Karicor profile image

      Karicor 8 years ago

      Choosing native plants and flowers is a major factor in reducing the amount of water we need to sustain our gardens here in Southern California. Every region has its own natural beauty and you've surely done an outstanding job featuring the natural beauty of the southern coastal region. The photography is stunning! Another SquidAngel blessing added! ^:)^

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Wow. You've done it again: Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • mayntopics profile image

      mayntopics 8 years ago

      Fantastic lens Nature Girl... Great content and loved the images, also very true and helpful.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      beautiful lens, I can't wait for summer and to get my garden going...living in Minnesota we're stuck indoors all winter...I can't wait to move somewhere where I can have a garden all year long :)

      5*

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      I am a sucker for gorgeous flower photos! You have a good thing going here. 5* and an angel blessing.

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 8 years ago from Australia

      I love anything to do with Nature - especially when it's edible

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Another absolutely wonderful lens from you! Why am I not surprised?

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 7 years ago

      This lens is beautiful! I love your work. My father plants a lot of wildlflowers, but not the same ones since we're up north. Great work!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 7 years ago from Croatia

      Beautiful lens and exquisite pictures! Blessed by an Angel!

    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 7 years ago

      Beautiful, beautiful lens.Thank-you for the wonderful pics.

    • Lori Lee-Ray profile image

      Lori Lee-Ray 7 years ago

      I have most of these in my yard! And I didn't even have to plant them! Great pics! Thanks for sharing!

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 7 years ago from Michigan

      Wow...a beautiful lens. And it smells good, too. Rolling it to my garden/flower-related Best Buds lens. I've got a wildflower of my own, there, I'd like your lovely "ladies" to meet.

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 7 years ago

      I Love wildflowers, they are so pretty on the side of the road

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love Wildflowers, too. Great lens with beautiful photos. Lensrolling to Queen Anne's Lace.

    • profile image

      Earth_Friend 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! Loved all the pictures!

    • profile image

      roadroamer 7 years ago

      These all look incredible! Great work.

    • profile image

      outsource123 6 years ago

      Great lense guys!

    • profile image

      dcason8 6 years ago

      Great lens on wildflowers! It always great to see them blooming in a meadow. I'm a big fan of wild roses myself, especially the Carolina rose!

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Beautiful lens! Gorgeous photos!

    • profile image

      AigulErali 5 years ago

      The Irises are amazing! Beautiful lens.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      Very beautiful lens. Love the photos too.

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 5 years ago from Ohio

      Fantastic job of highlighting the beauty of native plants. Your photography is beautiful :) ~blessed~

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Fortunately I can garden all winter in Florida, but still there is something about spring. Loved seeing all the wildflowers that could be used. Very nice.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Beautiful lens. Well done.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Since I am a red head, I sunburn going to the mailbox, so gardening is NOT one of my hobbies! However, I love all the flowers you described in your lens, so I am going to get myself a cut bouquet of them to enjoy! Great lens!!

    • cathywoodosborn profile image

      cathywoodosborn 5 years ago

      I voted for coreopsis, but being a Texas, my favorite is the bluebonnet. You have a lovely lens, and so much helpful information. Oh, and your postcards are delightful. :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Excellent lens with great photography.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      These southern wild flowers are really nice and reminds me I need to check on my garden.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations on your Purple Star award

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      Beautiful wildflowers! Thanks for sharing them.

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Very peaceful! I feel like I've taken a stroll through a beautiful park! B : )

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love to garden, this is a 5* lens, I planted lots of sunflower seeds already. Thanks.

    • cajkovska lm profile image

      cajkovska lm 5 years ago

      Nice lens with beautiful photos and useful informations...Thanks for sharing!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 5 years ago from Shanghai, China

      This is a great idea - I was happy to find bergamot. Bergamot oil is what they put in Earl Grey tea!

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      Loved the wonderful photos. Thanks for a fun lens!

    • Steve Dizmon profile image

      Steve Dizmon 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Wonderful Lens and great pictures. I particularly like the Black-Eyed Susans and Coneflowers which you included. Thanks for all the additional information.

    • entertainmentev profile image

      entertainmentev 4 years ago

      Great information! I had been thinking, for years, about having a butterfly garden. You provided some great wildflowers to accomplish this. Thank you!

    • SquidooMBA profile image

      SquidooMBA 4 years ago

      Love the lens! Keep up the great work...

    • profile image

      Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens. All of the pictures are amazing and I love the information that you provide about each.

      Li Li

    • bbsoulful2 profile image

      bbsoulful2 4 years ago

      I love gardening. Many of the wildflowers you wrote about are also ones we find up here in New England, and some of my favorites! Blessed by a SquidAngel...

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 4 years ago

      i have violet asters in my garden. all other flowers featured here are very beautiful. blessings and congratulations for winning the purple star.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 4 years ago

      i have violet asters in my garden. all other flowers featured here are very beautiful. blessings and congratulations for winning the purple star.

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 4 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens about easy to grow wildflowers and will be back to read more.

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      These are winderful plants. I have started to add more perennials to my garden. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Love it, I plant my entire backyard with clover and wildflowers, I just wrote about it

    • profile image

      ConvenientCalendar 3 years ago

      Like the lens! I learned a lot!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Love all the wildflowers shown here. They do make beautiful postcards and prints.

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