Prairie Flowers: Hardy for Kansas
Wildflowers and prairie plants are a hot topic in landscaping across the United States. We’re right in the middle of the prairie. Everyone else is planting what we have, so we should consider this for our own landscapes.
Consider planting some of the shrub borders in the back yard from prairie plants. We might have our traditional fescue in some areas, and prairie plants beyond. Right now, all through the flint hills, we’ll find sunflowers. This is Maximilian and it’s a perennial sunflower. It comes back from the roots every year. You’ll want to confine it because it does spread from underground, and it will take over larger areas. It’s a great plant that blooms in the fall from late September into early October.
Another beautiful plant is the Little Bluestem. This was cut near the ground, and you can see how tall it gets. It grows in small clumps and has a nice purplish tint in the fall. I like the Side-oats Grama. On each plant you’ll see that the seeds grow off on one side of the stem, similar to oats. It’s a very attractive plant in the range of two and half feet.
Another nice plant is switchgrass. This can grow from three to five or six feet tall. It forms a nice clump and is a great landscape plant. They can be purchased in one to five gallon containers for planting into the landscape, or you can plant it from seed. Some of them have a nice bronze color in the summer and into the fall.
This next plant is nice for early spring and all the way into the fall. It’s blue indigo. It has big bluish, pea-like pods that bloom around Memorial Day. Then they dry into attractive pods that will look nice into the fall and winter.
We have quite a few different goldenrods. This one is called Wichita Falls. It’s an introduced variety. When looking to do something different in the landscape, with low water use, consider some of our own prairie plants for your yard.
This feature story prepared with Bob Neier, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.