Short Growing Native Wildflowers
When it comes to native wildflowers, it always seems like the tall ones get all the love. Short growing native wildflowers are stout, mighty and can not only enhance your garden beds, but provide benefits to pollinating insects and other wildlife.
What we refer to as short in the native plant community doesn't always line up with what people think of as "short". Short growing native plants are anywhere from 1 to 4 feet tall. It is important to understand that when working with native species that are not genetically modified, it is impossible to identify a definitive growth height. Multiple factors can play a role in the overall grow height such as soils, weather and competition from other plants. Within the same planting area, you may see the same species growing at varying heights. This is why we identify grow height ranges for each species or mix on our website. So, if you want to stay "native short", think 1 to 4 feet and if you want to go "native tall", think over 4 feet.
Planting individual species in your landscape or garden beds is a great way to incorporate short growing native wildflowers. Let's take a look at a few of our favorites.
Nodding Wild Onion (Allium cernuum) is a wonderful perennial native wildflower that grows between 1 and 3 feet tall. It's varying shades of white, pink and lavender make it a favorite for pollinators. The flowers "nod" to you and native bees, making it an attractive option that adds interest to gardens and provides pollen. Nodding Wild Onion is a host plant for Hairstreak Butterfly caterpillars. And for all of you looking for deer-resistant native plants, the scent this species gives off is very undesirable to deer. Plant this species in moderate to slightly wet soils and in areas of full sun to partial shade.
Sampson's Snakeroot (Orbexilum pedunculatum) is a beautiful native perennial wildflower that has a growth height of 1 to 3 feet. This short growing native wildflower produces purple to lavender flowers that are known to persist for 3 months. Perfect for low maintenance garden beds! Sampson's Snakeroot is a host plant for Sweetfern Geometer Moth caterpillars. It is also a favorite for pollinating insects. The preferred habitat is dry to moderate soils and full to partial sun.
Looking for a late spring bloom? Wild Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a vibrant red to pink wildflower that reaches heights of 1 to 3 feet. The flowers are bell like and are a favorite to hummingbirds and butterflies. Wild Red Columbine is the host plant for Columbine Duskywing caterpillars. Plant this partial shade to full sun and well-drained soil conditions.
The above species are perennials, meaning they will come back year after year once established. Keep in mind, establishment times will take a couple growing seasons. If you're in need of a short growing native wildflower that will bloom the same season it's planted, look no further than Partridge Pea. This annual native wildflower is a bee magnet with its yellow blossoms. It grows between 1 to 3 feet tall and is the perfect plant if you're new to native gardening or don't have a "green thumb". Plant this one in early spring for flowers later in the summer.
Creating a pocket prairie or seeding a larger area? Here's some of our favorite short growing native seed mixes that are ready to beautify your landscape. All of these seed mixes are available in packets for smaller areas and quantities starting at 1/10 acre for larger areas.