garden worthy wild flowers question

helenh(z6 SW MO)September 7, 2008

What wild flowers have you planted that look good in the garden? I am thinking of ordering Rudbeckia subtomentosa seed, sweet coneflower, because the description says it is fragrant. I have wild brown eyed susans all over growing wild. Is this fragrant enough for me to notice? Also how about liatris and echinacea? Which species do you like?

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helen, just be sure they don't spread by rhizomes. I have dug up one or two from the fields that I had to get rid of, achillea (white) and snakeroot (that white that is blooming in all the ditches right now), it spreads horribly.

I grow echinacea white swan and a pink one, all from seed.
I have one liatris bought from local nursery and love it.

I have thought about rudbeckia subtomentosa before just never tried it. Let us know how it does for you.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 3:47PM
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bunny6(7 AR)

I grow pink echinacea, and they bloom almost all summer. I use to grow purple liatris. I tried to grow it in the shade...did not work. It likes the sun. Both are drought tolerant.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 12:26PM
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pauln(z7B Arkansas)

R. subtomentosa is one of my all time favorite wildflowers. It blooms later than the regular black eyed susan, and has a cluster of several flowers on one stalk. I transplanted one 20 years ago from a clear cut, and have divided it several times and given it away to many people.

The "sweet" part is from the dying leaves. All summer, there will be a few of these low on the plant. You can pick them and sometimes they will knock you over, other times, not so much. The smell is really pronounced in late autumn when the plant is dying back to the ground. You can pick the stalks and they will perfume an area for years if kept covered. The smell is really nice...pipe tobacco/vanilla/woodsy, not floral at all.

It took me forever to find this flower. When I was younger, a bud and I used to be hiking in the woods and would often exclaim "THERE'S THAT SMELL!!!" We'd stop right there and examine every flower and leaf around to find the mysterious plant we named "Ozark Euphoria". Unfortunately, we didn't think to look at DEAD leaves. I finally stumbled onto this plant when I sat on a shelf bluff right next to one in autumn. It was unmistakable. The flower had passed, but the seed head remained, and I knew it was a Rudbekia. I looked it up in my trusty Steyermark "Flora of Missouri" and voila.

I've never had any luck growing it from seed. However, I've only scattered them about willy-nilly. They do not come up like echinacea do. Perhaps something more scientific and purposefull. I have only seen them for sale at They will mail-order them to you.

Other choices to consider:
Echinacea is really easy and spreads from seed very well. They do a big flush of flowers and then some scattered ones throughout the season.
Columbine is beautiful in flower and foliage. This also spreads easily from seed, and may even hybridize.
Coreopsis is easy and carefree.
Liatrus I have not had much luck with. I think I don't water enough.
I'm a big fan of the Aster 'fanny'. It blooms late (mid Oct) and does so for a long time. This is also a spreader with tillers. I haven't noticed any seed spread.
Some of the goldenrods are really nice. I like the shorter ones, but don't have species or cultivar names to pass along.
Don't forget about Asclepias -butterfly weed.
I'd love to grow ironweed, but think I'm too dry for that.
Same thing for Joe Pie Weed.

Also, think about your Spring Ephemerals such as trout lily, blood root, jack in the pulpit, and dutchman's breeches. They're really nice in a woodland setting and do their thing early and go dormant by early summer.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 4:32PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I will have to order this plant. Your description sounds great to me. Thanks, I also have a Steyermark Flora of MO. My teacher, Dr Redfern of Springfield MO, felt a little guilty about making us buy it as a text book, but I have had it 40 years and still use it. Keep coming to this forum, please.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 5:23PM
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caroline_2008(Z 6)

I planted several wildflowers 2 years ago, the sunflower
was so pretty and bloomed good, then started spreading, so
got rid of it , also got some yarrow, it is doing good but
have not noticed any scent. I have a 'Blazing star'(leatris) got at a nursery and it is 3 years old, and I like it, needs a ring , grows tall. But again it does'nt
have any scent. Happy gardening, caroline

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 5:38PM
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Paul - I had seen ironweed growing it ditches and wanted some, then a couple years ago when we couldn't cut hay a second time because of drought, we had ironweed blooming in our hayfield. I didn't even know it was there. I think in normal years, it would be baled before it got a chance to bloom but that year it was left alone. Anyway - I think it must be a pretty tough plant. I don't know which one it is though.
R. subtomentosa sounds intriguing. I will check for that one if I go the the native plant symposium that they have at the Nature Center here every year.

I have a native liatris that's pretty but it flops and as Caroline says, needs a ring or something.

Purple Poppy Mallow has bright magenta flowers and blooms a long time. I posted some photos of that one earlier in the summer. It's still relatively new to be so the verdict is still out. I hope I don't get a million seedlings next year.

I bought silene last year for the hummingbirds and it bloomed for a long time this summer. I don't know which species that one is either. It has little red star shaped flowers.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 8:44AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Iron weed is mentioned in gardener's notebook in Horticulture mag Sept. issue. Also I ordered 3 bug books on a recommendation in this same magazine. There is a bug all over my white phlox and jeruselem artichoke weeds. I looked it up as best I could by pictures and it is a good bug that eats grasshopper eggs and small insects and pollen. I decided I should know more about bugs.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 2:47PM
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I planted Enchincea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) in 1986. From that one plant I have transplanted around the yard and even given away many seedlings. It is beautiful in June when blooming in groups. We enjoy the wildlife - so it is a double treat to see Goldfinches feeding on the dried seed heads starting in late August and lasting until I cut the dried stalks in November/December. Other Enchincea in the garden are pallid (Pale Purple coneflower)- the flower is so "dainty" (just beware that can grow to 4 feet). For a smaller coneflower towards the front of the border I like Enchinacea tennesseensis - this coneflower is rare so you will most likely find it as a hybrid at nurseries (as mine are). It gets to about 18 inches tall.

I love to have a variety of liatris in the garden too. Right now Liatris aspera (Rough Blazing Star) is blooming in the midst of Helianthus salicifolius (Willow Leaf Sunflower) The contrast of the purple and yellow is breath taking. I have found that Liatris wants quick draining soil - it does not like wet feet. And it prefers the soil dry out between waterings.

I just added Rudbeckia subtomentosa to my garden this year - so no comment yet. It is doing well and planted in the midst of Aster Novae-Angliae (New England Aster), Indian Physic, Veronica longifolia (Icicle), Thalictrum aquilegifolium (Meadow Rue).

I also love Ascepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed). It starts blooming in May and continues until frost. Plus you get the side benefit of watching Monarch catapillers and butterflies.

And one last plant family that I really like in the garden is Amsonia both illustris and tabernaemontana (Blue Dog Bane and Shining Blue Star).

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 2:11PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Thank you for the information. I have been looking up both Amsonia seen on Gardener's Diary TV show for bright yellow fall foliage and Willow Leafed Sunflower mentioned in one of my gardening books as getting very tall but having nice foliage. I finally "got" the smell of the sweet cone flower and now I can smell it. I was crushing the leaves and trying to smell them -no luck. The area where they are smells pleasant but it is subtle. I was watering my plants that I haven't got in the ground the other day and the water hitting the plant made them smell.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2008 at 5:11PM
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Adiantium - I'm so glad you joined in! Sounds like you have a wonderful garden. I've been seeing goldfinches too. I have lots of dried out coneflowers for them and I'm hoping they'll go to my zinnias and cosmos also. I've never been able to figure out what kind of liatris I have. I may post a photo for you to look at to see if it looks like your l. aspera since that is one that I thought it might be.

I also bought amsonia illustris and swamp milkweed at the Native Plant Symposium last year. The amsonia has grown a lot this summer and I'm anxious to see if it gets good fall color. I had to look back at an old post to see which amsonia it was and I also found where I mentioned the name of the silene. It was s. regla. I collected some seeds from it this week so I can plant some more of those for next year. It's finished blooming now but here's a photo from earlier this summer. Click to enlarge:

My swamp milkweed was heavily infested with aphids and I ignored them since the ladybugs usually show up and take care of those for me but they must've been working in someone else's garden this time. The poor thing looked dried up and dead by the end of August. I'm hoping it will return next year anyway.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2008 at 10:13AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

One amsonia at Close Park didn't look good; the other looked pretty nice. I think one was shaded too much by other plants. Willow leaf sunflower had tipped over like many of my plants; I decided I don't need it with all the yellow daisy flowered plants I already have. Click to enlarge

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 5:26PM
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I also have Culvers root.It needs support.In the wild it doesn't grow so tall but in my enriched soil it does.I love the wild pink geraniums too.Asters and coneflowers seed all over my garden,oh beebalm but I like the deep pink and red best.I have a white wildflower that is an ageratum I think that everyone admires.I think everything else has been mentioned.I planted a goldenrod with rhizomes that I am still pulling out.I also dug out the achillea.Queen Annes lace I want but can't seem to get a good stand of it.False dragonhead is pretty in a wet place and Solomons seal is pretty too.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:41PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Queen Anne's Lace grows all along my long driveway. After it blooms it turns to stickers. If you can't grow it, you must not have poor dry soil. It is pretty when it blooms, but bad for long haired dogs and cats. This year I had beautiful wildflowers all along my driveway in August. It was crownbeard mostly white but also yellow. Ike knocked it over. It was pretty not for the individuals but the mass effect. Sometimes there was too much rain but I'm am going to hate going back to 20 to 40 inches of rain.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:33PM
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Is that the amsonia in the bottom photo? I went out and checked my a. illustris after seeing your photo. Mine is still completely green.

Posy Pet - I agree with Helen and think that Queen Anne's Lace must be one that thrives on neglect. We have a lot of that in our hayfield and it's one of the few things that survives the competition from the tall grasses there and still blooms.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 12:58PM
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One of my favorite spring ephemerals is Woodland Phlox, commonly, and misleadingly, called wild Sweet William. Sweet William is a dianthus and Woodland Phlox is Phlox divaricata. I also have tons of tradescantia in purple, lavendar pink and a few white. They can be invasive, seeding prolifically and the dying foliage is a slimy mess, but they are lovely in the woods so I leave them out there. The little native Iris is nice too. Dorothy

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 2:51PM
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I like woodland phlox too. I looked back through my Photobucket pics. I was sure I had one of it blooming but I guess I don't. Mine smells good but not very strong. I got my original one in a plant trade so I don't know if it's the true species or was a volunteer from a named one or something. Mine eventually started reseeding around but it has taken it a long time to spread.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 8:09AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Does anyone like mullein? I have one that I let grow in my daylilies. The flower isn't much; I like the big furry leaves. I also like the moth mullein as a driveway not a garden plant. My driveway is more of a lane to my house with a barbed wire fence on each side. I enjoy the weeds and don't feel compelled to tame it which would be impossible anyway.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 7:14PM
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Helen - I get a few mullein seedlings around my yard every year. I let one grow once to see what it would do. The flowers were yellow and had a very strong lemony scent. I was afraid to let it go to seed and pulled it out before it was even through flowering. I'm not sure what type it was. The fragrance was strong, almost gagging up close, and smelled like something a person would clean their kitchen with. lol

I'm glad this thread has come back to the top. I read through the whole thing again. My amsonia is going to bloom this year for the first time and the silene seeds I winter sowed had pretty good germination. They're very small but I planted a few out anyway. I didn't see any voluteers around the mama plant so I'm glad I collected some seeds last summer.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 9:23AM
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