What are some native wildflowers that would bloom and add color to our farm place in late summer? Wildflowers are a great addition to any landscape. They are great for color and an excellent food source for pollinators. We have a large selection of wildflowers, but we often focus on those that bloom in early to midsummer and don’t have a great display in the late summer or fall.
It’s more enjoyable to us and more beneficial to our pollinator insects if we can see our bloom time through the season, including through the fall.
There are a lot of great native plants to add to our landscapes for fall bloom. There are plants such as purple prairie clover, Illinois bundleflower and spike gayfeather that bloom from June through August.
Black-eyed Susan will bloom from June to October for a very long season of interest, and compass plant will bloom from June to September. Kansas gayfeather and dotted blazing star are both in the genus Liatris and bloom in August and September.
One great selection for the later fall would be goldenrod, which blooms in August and September. It is a beautiful native plant with a very naturalized look to the form and flower of the plant. Many people believe that goldenrod is the reason for their late-season allergies, but in many cases, the allergies are actually coming from the ragweed plants that are blooming at the same time as the goldenrod.
Goldenrod pollen is heavy and sticky, making it a poor candidate for wind dispersal. Do not be afraid to plant goldenrod. It is a great selection, and there are a lot of varieties for different sizes, bloom period and other attributes. A few great choices include “Wichita mountains,” “Fireworks,” “golden sun” and “baby sun.”
Wildflowers for fall or winter
Not all of our interest in a garden is from the flower blooms. Sometimes, we like the look of the foliage or seed heads to add more to our landscapes than just blooms and similar looking leaves.
One great plant that is native to Nebraska and grows well here with season-long interest is Baptisia, or blue false indigo. It blooms in May, but has a unique foliage that has three leaflets, similar to a bean or pea. It also has a seed pod similar to Kentucky coffeetree, but smaller. As the seeds mature, it becomes a hard structure that is unique and fun for kids of all ages; it makes a good rattle with the seeds inside.
Others for long-season interest include Missouri primrose and Illinois bundleflower. Illinois bundleflower blooms from June through August, but it also holds onto a unique seed head into the winter. The seed head is a grouping of flattened, slightly curved pods that are attached in a round shape. It takes the appearance of a dried-out peach pit.
Native plants are obviously a good choice because they are well-suited to grow in our environment. They have lived with these growing conditions for many generations. However, there are also a lot of great plants that are not native, but are well-adapted to our growing conditions.
You can incorporate plants such as monkshood, Boltonia, many of the asters, leadwort, pincushion flower, sedum, and one of my favorites, turtlehead, for great fall flowering. Turtlehead is a fun one with pink flowers similar in shape to snapdragons. They will spread over time and can be divided and shared, but it is not invasive. It prefers partial to full sun. It is a good plant to have for fall blooms.
Stoner is an associate Nebraska Extension educator and ISA certified arborist in Gage County.