22 Cold-Hardy Wildflowers for Gardeners in Cold Climates

Wildflowers are perfect for gardens in cold climates. Cold-hardy wildflowers are numerous and represent the best of the best, with showy blooms and textures that offer multi-season appeal. They withstand cold winters, many even relying on cold temperatures to survive. Get excited about the upcoming wildflower season with cold-hardy selections that thrive. Gardener Katherine Rowe outlines stunning and winter-hardy wildflowers to plant in spring or fall.

A wildflower meadow in full bloom covered in a variety of wildflowers, including poppies, daisies, cornflowers, and black-eyed Susans. The flowers are in full bloom, and their colors are vibrant and eye-catching. There are also a few green plants and grasses scattered throughout the field.

Contents

Wildflowers abound for gardeners in cold climates, and there are so many cold-hardy varieties available. Whether grown from seed, plant plugs, or nursery stock, wildflowers make the perfect seasonal garden transition from winter to spring (and beyond). They bring colorful delights and ease of care with them.

We know the goodness wildflowers bring to the garden – vibrant blooms, multi-season appeal, and essential food and shelter sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Color combinations are endless and complementary in a carefree, informal composition that buzzes and sways in the landscape.

Living in Colorado, I recall the welcome sight of the first columbine bloom, the first lupine, the first – anything – blooming after winter. Almost overnight, flowers emerge to welcome the coming warm season. Here, we’ll celebrate those winter-hardy wildflowers that enliven the landscape for successional seasons bursting with blooms.

Our Favorites:

Agastache

Our Rating

Anise Hyssop Seeds


Butterfly Milkweed

Our Rating

Hello Yellow Milkweed/Butterfly Flower Seeds

Black-eyed Susan

Our Rating

Black-Eyed Susan Seeds


Agastache

Delicate peach-colored agastache flowers gracefully sway on tall stems, creating a vibrant focal point. The blurred background artfully captures the warm hues of orange flowers and leaves, providing a harmonious and enchanting backdrop.
This features fragrant leaves and bloom spikes that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
botanical-name botanical name Agastache foeniculum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Agastache, or anise hyssop, is a cold-hardy wildflower garden favorite with its fragrant leaves and delicate tubular blooms. The showiest of the native mints, Agastache foeniculum carries purple-blue bloom spikes that rise above gray-green foliage and provide a rich nectar source for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Agastache foeniculum is native to northern North America and has a widespread range. Numerous species and cultivars of agastache are available for reliable blooming, brilliant color, and strong performance in the gardenAgastache POQUITO™ Series ‘Orange’ is a robust garden performer that shines with floriferous orange bloom spikes. It’s a butterfly favorite.

Agastache blooms profusely in summer through frost and pairs beautifully with other wildflowers like aster, salvia, solidago, and blue-eyed grass. It thrives in full sun in moist and dry soils as long as they’re well-draining. Cut back spent blooms to enjoy prolific flowering all season.

Aster

A close-up captures the intricate beauty of purple asters, their petals delicately unfurling around radiant yellow centers. Beneath the blossoms, lush and deep green leaves form a verdant tapestry, providing a rich contrast to the vivid hues above.
Easy-to-grow North American asters, with star-like daisy flowers in vivid hues, bloom well into fall.
botanical-name botanical name Aster spp., Symphiotrichum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height Varies
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Asters, native to North America, are easy-to-grow garden favorites with deep blue, purple, lavender, and pink daisy-like flowers. They put on a showy display well into fall as other blooms begin to fade. Aster, Greek for “star,” blooms in clusters of star-like daisy flowers in vivid hues of blues, pinks, and purples. Some have small but abundant flowers, providing a complete blanket of color.

Hundreds of aster species occur worldwide, although botanists reclassified the genera based on DNA and morphology. Many asters native to North America are now in the Symphiotrichum genera, including smooth, calico, heath, wood, and aromatic aster varieties.

The range of asters means a range of adaptivity and bloom times in the garden. Wood asters, for example, tolerate shade and bloom in early summer, while aromatic asters prefer full sun and bloom well into fall. This succession of blooms allows support for pollinators throughout the seasons.

Asters prefer consistently moist, organically rich soils. Allow good air circulation and thin stems in summer if density prevents airflow. These steps, along with good drainage, prevent foliar diseases.

Baptisia

Lavender baptisia flowers blossom gracefully, adorning thick and tall green stems that reach towards the sky. The blurred background showcases a lush tapestry of greenery, creating a harmonious and serene backdrop for the exquisite floral display.
A beloved perennial, baptisia features sweet blue legume blooms in spring and summer.
botanical-name botanical name Baptisia australis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

For good reason, baptisia, or blue false indigo, is a much-loved cold-hardy perennial wildflower packed with sweet blue legume blooms in spring and summer. Its blue- green foliage is soft, full, and attractive all season. After blooms fade, spikes bear showy seed pods that give winter interest.

Baptisia is native to the eastern U.S., growing naturally along stream banks, meadows, and in open woodlands. The straight species is very pretty, and beautiful cultivars are readily available with sky blue, purple, white, and yellow blooms. Native bees and bumble bees appreciate these.

A Perennial Plant Association award-winner, baptisia is long-lived and deserves a place in the garden. It’s easily grown from seeds, which germinate quickly. It may take a few years for seeded plants to bloom. For faster flowering, opt for plugs or nursery specimens.

Black-eyed Susan

In a radiant display, vibrant black-eyed Susan flowers stretch towards the sun, their golden petals catching the warm sunlight. Lush green leaves surround the blossoms, creating a lively contrast against the brown pavement backdrop.
A versatile native wildflower, Black-eyed Susan showcases golden daisy-like flowers with dark centers.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia fulgida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1.5 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Black-eyed Susan, with its abundant golden daisy-like flowers and dark centers, is a nonstop, showy profusion of blooms from summer through fall. A native cold-hardy wildflower, Rudbeckia has been cultivated for use in the garden as a mass planting, border plant, and container planting. It is perfect in a meadow or cottage garden.

Black-eyed Susan is a long-blooming perennial native to parts of the Southeast, Central, and Western United States. Bright gold daisy-like blooms with chocolate centers arise on single stems in summer and bloom through frost. 

Rudbeckias are adaptable plants that thrive in various conditions, including heat, humidity, and drought. These are excellent options for cultivation of any scale, occurring naturally in meadows and prairies. ‘Indian Summer’ produces late-season blooms and is a long-lasting cut flower. 

Blue-eyed Grass

Blue-eyed grass, a charming wildflower, showcases delicate and petite flowers with a soft blue hue. Its slender stems gracefully hold these blossoms, creating a lovely contrast against the green foliage.
This adds a grassy texture to wildflower gardens with upright blades.
botanical-name botanical name Sisyrinchium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-24 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-9

Blue-eyed grass, a member of the Iris family, is not really grass but a blooming annual or perennial, depending on the species. Its upright blades lend a grassy texture to the cold-hardy wildflower garden, giving a nice foliar contrast to other leaf shapes. Blue star-shaped blooms provide a soft look to the plant’s stiff habit.

Sisyrinchium species are numerous and likely a good fit for your climate zone as they range from very cold-hardy (down to USDA zone 2) to more temperate (zones 7 and 8). Sisyrinchium montanum, strict blue-eyed grass, is a good winter hardy species naturally found in midwestern prairies across the U.S. It has slightly broader leaves than other species and cute violet blooms.

Sisyrinchium angustifolia ‘Lucerne’ is particularly showy as it produces more flowers, is more prominent in size, and blooms for a more extended period than the straight species. ‘Lucerne’ is hardy in zones 4-8 and reseeds more readily than other varieties. If you don’t want your blue-eyed grass to reseed, shear it after blooms fade.

Bluebells

Sunlit bluebell flowers illuminate a garden as their delicate bell-shaped blooms gracefully droop down. In the background, a blurred scene reveals tall grasses basking in the warm sunlight, creating a serene and tranquil ambiance.
These adapt to various climates and even serve as edible additions to salads.
botanical-name botanical name Mertensia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-8

Bluebells give a sweet splash of blue-violet to the garden. Bell-shaped flowers suspend gracefully from leafy, arching stems above dense crowns in spring and summer.

Mertensia ciliata, or mountain bluebell, is native to the western U.S. and tolerant of drought and temperature extremes. The tallest of the bluebells, M. ciliata forms pink buds that open to rich purple-blue and turn pink as flowers age. The leaves and flowers are edible – exquisite in a summer salad.

In the eastern United States, the ephemeral Virginia bluebell pops up in the spring, gracing the garden with sky-blue tubular blooms for several weeks. Mertensia virginica is a threatened native species in its range due to habitat changes, but in the right spot, it naturalizes and readily reseeds.

Bluebell seeds benefit from scarification to germinate. Rub seeds with a medium-grit sandpaper before sowing. Bluebells grow best in moist conditions, with a natural habitat of stream banks, wet meadows, and moist woodlands, but they need good airflow to prevent mildew diseases.

Butterfly Milkweed

A close-up of orange butterfly milkweed flowers, delicately poised, basking in the warm sunlight. The warm glow casts gentle shadows on the lush green leaves, creating a captivating interplay of light and nature.
Adding butterfly-friendly milkweed in bunches to your wildflower garden benefits Monarchs.
botanical-name botanical name Asclepias tuberosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 18 to 24 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-11

A gorgeous, cold-hardy wildflower that benefits Monarch butterflies is a win for the wildflower garden. As gardeners, we are conscientious about pollinators and their ecosystem, and we can improve our corner of the natural world by adding more milkweed. Plant it in bunches – a load of blooms is more beneficial than dibs and dabs.

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) boasts bright, flat-topped bloom clusters in red-orange. ‘Hello Yellow’ is a cheery variety of clear, sunny yellow flowers. The vibrant blooms and sweet nectar attract those important pollinators and associated beneficial insects. Aphids often accompany milkweed but usually don’t impact plant health. Predatory insects like wasps, lacewings, and ladybugs manage the aphids.

Asclepias incarnata, or swamp milkweed, is a prime choice for moist garden areas. Its natural habitat is along marshy pond edges, bogs, and woodlands. It produces lovely clusters of flat, deep pink blooms, making the perfect landing pad for butterflies.

The Xerces Society offers numerous pollinator resources, including guides on region-specific native milkweed options. When your garden is bursting with milkweed, and the flowers have gone to seed, collect some to share with your neighbors and fellow gardeners. A colony is a sustainable stopover for Monarchs. Look for the Monarch’s chrysalis, with its trim of gold thread, after caterpillars have munched the plant.

Columbine

 A close-up captures the delicate beauty of pink and light pink columbine flowers. In the background, a soft blur reveals a tapestry of yellow flowers and lush foliage, adding a harmonious contrast to the focal blooms.
A native wildflower with origami-like blooms in various colors, Columbine attracts pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Aquilegia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-48 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Columbine is a graceful native cold-hardy wildflower with origami-like blooms that bring delight after long winters. Columbine’s attractive compound leaves emerge quickly as temperatures warm; before you know it, the flowers appear like lanterns floating atop tall spikes. Nodding flowers range from vibrant red and yellow to beautiful blues, purples, and pinks, depending on the variety. Hummingbirds and other pollinators appreciate the nectar from the tubular blooms, and birds feed on the seeds in fall.

With many winter-hardy species available, opt for one especially suited to your climate. Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) brings showy red and yellow bell flowers, perennializes well, and spreads by self-seeding. Aquilegia coerulea, the popular Rocky Mountain blue columbine, brings heirloom violet and white blooms with yellow stamens to the western garden.

With a natural habitat along woodland edges, clearings, and riverbanks, columbine grows best in moderately moist, well-drained soils (not too wet or dry). Protect it from hot afternoon sun in warm months. Columbine is semi-evergreen and retains its basal leaves unless temperatures are too cold or too hot, where it enters dormancy until temps level off.

Coreopsis

A close-up captures the intricate details of yellow coreopsis petals, showcasing their delicate texture and radiant color. The slender stems gracefully support both fully blossomed flowers and promising green buds. In the background, a gentle blur highlights the lush greenery.
This plant blankets gardens with successive waves of bright blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Coreopsis brings masses of sunny blooms to the wildflower garden. It reseeds readily for successional seasons of color and is often one of the first flowers to spring up and the last to fade. In mid-summer, waves of yellow brighten the landscape.

Lance-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is the most common species with signature feathery golden ray petals and yellow centers. Easy to grow, C. lanceolata is drought-tolerant and forms clumping colonies of lance-shaped leaves with blooms above. Like other coreopsis, it reseeds well. 

Plains coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria) is native to the western U.S. and is widely grown due to its adaptability. It features a variation in color, with showy yellow daisy-like petals, deep red highlights, and brown button centers. Though considered an annual, a single plant may flower for two to three years depending on the climate.

Coreopsis is a favorite nectar and pollen source for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Songbirds forage on the seeds in fall and winter.

Delphinium

A display of delphinium flowers forms dense clusters, their radiant blue petals soaking up the warm sunlight. The rich, indigo hues of the delphiniums contrast beautifully with the blurred backdrop of lush green trees.
An elegant wildflower, Delphinium bursts with deep blue bell-shaped flowers on tall stems.
botanical-name botanical name Delphinium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Delphinium is an elegant wildflower with large, deep blue bell-shaped flowers on tall stems. It’s superb in the garden, if a little finicky. The glorious bloom spikes make it well worth a try.

Delphinium carolinianum, or blue larkspur, is a wild delphinium native to the prairies of the Midwest. Cold-hardy to zone 4, its range is widespread, from the edge of the American West to the Southeast. Light blue blooms rise on one-to-three-foot stems above blue-green, lobed leaves, creating waves of blue in open meadows in early spring through summer.

Straight species delphinium are less available than those of European and Asian origin. Delphinium elatum is bred for its reliable bloom, range of colors, height, and performance in the landscape. The plant is available in tall and dwarf varieties, and colors ranging from marine blue to rose pink to clear white. D. elatum produces beautiful flowers, attracts pollinators to the garden, and resists mildew diseases.

Delphinium grows best in cool climates. In warm climates, plants die back in the summer heat and are treated as annuals. Tall varieties may require staking and benefit from deadheading the spent blooms. Delphinium needs moist and very well-drained soils; they may get crown rot and mildew if conditions are too moist.  Full sun conditions stave off powdery mildew.

Echinacea

A cluster of Echinacea flowers with delicate pink petals stands proudly against a backdrop of lush, deep green leaves. Each flower features a captivating orange button at its center, adding a vivid contrast to the overall botanical composition.
A quintessential native wildflower, Echinacea attracts beneficial insects with its nectar-rich disc florets.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea purpurea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1.5 to 5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

A quintessential native wildflower, echinacea, or coneflower, is a favorite summer bloomer in vibrant hues across the color spectrum. Rayed petals surround a center disc, serving as a prime nectar source for beneficial insects. Dried seed heads provide food for birds and extend winter interest in the container garden.

Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower, is a favorite in the wildflower garden, with purple petals surrounding an orange center. They bring multi-season appeal to the garden with their vibrant blooms and seed heads that persist into winter. Let the flowers go to seed for winter interest and provide a food source for birds and small mammals.

Coneflowers abound in a myriad of colors and forms. Echinacea is another bee favorite. A natural prairie plant, it needs well-draining soils and thrives in summer heat and full sun.

Fireweed

Graceful fireweed stems, slender and tall, display purple blossoms and buds, basking in the late afternoon sunlight. A blurred backdrop unveils tall grasses, providing a harmonious contrast to the focal elegance of the fireweed.
Blooming in vibrant pink, fireweed flowers cover upright stems in open fields.
botanical-name botanical name Chamerion angustifolium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-8 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-8

Fireweed creates blazes of pink blooms across the landscape. One of the first species to colonize disturbed areas in cool climates, fireweed grows in open fields in masses. Deep pink blooms cover upright stems atop willowy leaves. 

Firewood flowers are rich in nectar and are a valuable food source for pollinators. They also produce tons of fluffy seeds and spread by rhizomes, so take care to weed out selections and cut back spent blooms if you don’t want them to take over. The show is worth the effort.

Chamerion angustifolium blooms from June to September, with spikes of 50 or more rose-pink flowers. They’re incredibly cold-hardy, easy to grow, and contrast beautifully with blues and yellows in the garden. Leaves and flowers are edible:  pair them with bluebells as a pretty garnish.

Gaillardia

A gaillardia flower captivates with its intricate petals transitioning gracefully from rich red to sunny yellow. The bloom is nestled among a symphony of similar gaillardia flowers and lush green leaves, forming a picturesque scene of natural beauty.
Blanketflower, or Gaillardia, is a drought-tolerant North American native with flowers in warm tones.
botanical-name botanical name Gaillardia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Gaillardia, or blanket flower, casts a sunny glow in the garden with its daisy-like flowers in gold, orange, red, or bi-color that have brown button centers. Gaillardia blooms throughout the summer and into the fall. This North American native reseeds readily, often blooms in its first growing season, and is drought and heat-tolerant.

There are numerous species of Gaillardia, and many are widely available. Gaillardia pulchella comes from the Southwest with colors to match. Warm tones of red and gold bloom from late winter through fall. G. pulchella is an annual that grows to two feet tall and does well in most areas of the country as long as soils are well-drained.

Perennial Gaillardia aristata boasts yellow, red, and purple tones and grows to four feet tall. Like all gaillardia, it’s adaptable, versatile, and a favorite of butterflies.

Gaillardia x grandiflora combines the best of both G. pulchella and G. aristata to extend color and height. This combination is available in different varieties, so opt for your favorite color.

Gaillardia is a carefree performer in the wildflower garden. It grows in poor, sandy soils and adapts to various conditions. Seeds need no special treatment before sowing. With well-drained soil, Gaillardia requires little else – though to prolong bloom time, provide additional water during dry periods. Early to flower and late to fade, blanket flower’s disc blooms bring cheer and vibrance to the landscape.

Gilia

A mesmerizing display of purple gilia flowers, arranged in spherical clusters on delicate stems. The blurred background gracefully extends the floral tapestry, revealing an abundance of these enchanting blooms amid lush greenery.
Globe gilia features clusters of deep blue flowers in small globes.
botanical-name botanical name Gilia capitata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-10

Gilia bursts into the wildflower garden with clusters of deep blue flowers in small, neat globes. Ideal in a mixed planting arrangement, gilia dots the landscape with its floating orbs of 50 to 100 petite flowers.  

Gilia capitata, or globe gilia, is the most popular species and grows naturally throughout much of the American West. Pink, white, lavender, or powder blue flowers bloom in late winter through fall and attract numerous insects, including butterflies, moths, and caterpillars.

Gilia’s natural habitat is sandy and rocky, and it grows best in well-drained soils. It self-seeds readily in the garden and is an easily established, low-maintenance wildflower with a lively pop of color in the landscape.

Heliopsis

Several yellow heliopsis blooms with striking orange centers. The blurred background artfully showcases lush green leaves, creating a harmonious contrast that emphasizes the radiant beauty of the blossoms.
This plant features golden blooms with a fuzzy yellow button center.
botanical-name botanical name Heliopsis helianthoides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Heliopsis, commonly called oxeye daisy or oxeye sunflower, is native to the central and eastern United States. Golden sunflower-like blooms with fuzzy yellow button centers rise above deep green leaves in summer through fall. Unlike sunflowers, oxeye daisies hold their ray petals.

Heliopsis’ showy flowers attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Birds eat the seeds post-bloom, and leftovers self-seed.

Stiff, sturdy stems grow to five feet. There are also dwarf varieties in cultivation. In nature, heliopsis adapts to a wide variety of soil conditions, making it an easy-to-grow perennial in the wildflower garden.

Liatris

Tall stems of the Liatris plant rise gracefully, adorned with purple flowers that add a pop of color to the scene. Needle-like leaves below provide an elegant contrast, while lush greenery in the background enhances the overall natural beauty.
Varieties like Liatris spicata prefer moist meadows, while Liatris aspera, flourishes in dry, sandy conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Liatris spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Blazing star, or gayfeather, represents a genus with about forty species and numerous cultivars. Dense flowers line upright stalks and open in purples, pinks, and whites from the top down. Arching, fine-bladed foliage forms clumps beneath the leafy stems. Flowers are strong, bold, and showy, attracting pollinators and serving as host plants for butterflies and moths.

Liatris spicata, or marsh blazing star, is native to the Eastern U.S. and grows naturally in moist meadows and marshy areas. It boasts densely packed blooms and low maintenance qualities in an array of cultivars. Plants are two to five feet tall with blooms from spring through frost.

Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera) ranges from Canada south to Florida and does best in dry, sandy conditions. Magenta-purple pompom blooms open in late summer on two to four-foot stems. Once established, blazing star is quite drought-tolerant.

Lupine

White lupine flowers bloom delicately on slender green stems, showcasing nature's elegance. The blurred background unveils a tapestry of lush lupine flowers, creating a harmonious scene of vivid life.
With its enchanting bell-shaped blooms in various colors, lupine thrives in diverse wild conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Lupine enchants the spring and summer landscape with lovely bell-shaped blooms in blues, purples, pinks, whites, yellows, and bicolors. It’s incredible that these graceful flowers grow in a variety of wild conditions – from dry to moist, hot to cold. They can even handle a lack of nutrients. These wild beauties are legumes, meaning they fix nitrogen in the soil and improve the nutrition of the surrounding soil.

Lupinus perennis, or wild lupine, is native to eastern North America. Sky-blue flowers adorn multiple spikes up to eight inches long. Flowers are often two tones of purple and blue or blue and white. These are sweet pea flowers in rich tones with attractive, palmate leaves. Wild lupine is a wonderful choice for the eastern gardener to attract pollinators and bring beauty to the wildflower garden.

Meadow lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) is one of the showiest, lushest species with dense violet bloom spikes atop a cushion of pretty blue-green leaves. It is robust in form (at three to five feet tall) and in growth as a vigorous, adaptable plant. This adaptability led to invasive qualities outside its native Western range, particularly in the northeastern U.S. In the West, it plays a vital role in ecosystem management regarding erosion control, soil improvement, and pollinator food sources.

Monarda

Monarda flowers, with purple petals, bloom gracefully above lush, deep green leaves. The intricate petals delicately encircle a prominent green center, creating a visually captivating and harmonious composition in this botanical marvel.
This plant has scarlet blooms, and various hybrids have vibrant colors like purple and red.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Monarda didyma, or bee balm, is native to the eastern U.S. and is a favorite cold-hardy wildflower due to its outstanding scarlet blooms. Two-inch flowers with flared petals cluster on stems above minty foliage. It’s a bit of frazzle and a lot of dazzle.

Numerous hybrids offer vibrant flowers in purple, pink, and red hues. ‘Jacob Cline’ in brilliant red is a hardy variety with good powdery-mildew resistance. Monarda, with its bright, tubular blooms, is a hummingbird favorite.

Provide plenty of air circulation for monarda, with organic soils, and consistent moisture. Cut back spent blooms to prolong blooming, which lasts from early summer through fall. Monarda spreads by seed and rhizome, so divide plants and weed out volunteers to keep it in bounds if it’s performing too well in the wildflower garden.

Penstemon

A close-up captures the intricate details of purple penstemon flowers, their delicate petals unfolding gracefully amidst green leaves. Bathed in the warm sunlight, the bell-shaped blooms create a mesmerizing spectacle against the blurred backdrop of greenery.
Various penstemon species are prized for their beautiful blooms and adaptability to different soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Penstemon spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-60 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

The dreamy penstemon is bold in the wildflower garden with tall spikes loaded with bells. Many species of penstemon, or beardtongue, are native to the U.S. and are widely cultivated because of their brilliant blooms and dark green foliage. It makes a beautiful cut flower, but leave plenty for the pollinators, including native bees. They love the sweet nectar of each blossom.

Rocky Mountain blue penstemon (Penstemon strictus) is a long-lived, reliable heirloom perennial with striking violet-blue spikes that rise in early summer. Rocky Mountain blue tolerates varying soil conditions.

Firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) features showy scarlet bell-shaped blooms on tall spikes in spring through summer. Firecracker is drought-tolerant and hardy, preferring gravelly sites and lean soils. It benefits from afternoon sun protection in hot, dry areas.

Penstemon prefers dry, light, well-drained soils. Seeds benefit from cold stratification, so sow in fall or early spring to allow exposure to cold temperatures and moisture.

Prairie Coneflower

 Prairie coneflowers grace the scene with their sunny yellow petals and distinctive brown button centers, standing tall on slender green stems. The blurred background beautifully frames the coneflowers, revealing a lush tapestry of greenery.
A highly showy, long-blooming wildflower, Prairie coneflower provides seeds for wildlife.
botanical-name botanical name Ratibida spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Prairie coneflower is a highly showy, long-blooming, easy-care wildflower that offers nectar for pollinators and seeds for birds and small mammals in the fall and winter. With tall flowers in bold yellows and deep reds, this coneflower brightens the wildflower garden from spring until frost.

Ratibida columnifera (commonly, upright prairie coneflower or Mexican Hat) holds the hallmark coloration in red, yellow, or dark purple-red ray petals with bright gold edges. Petals droop below a central gold-brown disc on stems reaching one to three feet tall. Upright prairie coneflower is hardy in zones 4-9.

Grey-head coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) is more cold-hardy (zones 3-8) with tall blooms from three to five feet. Leaves are sparse, so plants look best in a mass or mixed planting where the unique blooms shine.

This cold-hardy wildflower is fast-growing, drought-tolerant, and withstands competition from other plants. It can be pushy in optimum growing conditions and may overtake weaker growers.

Solidago

A close-up of a cluster of yellow Solidago flowers, bathed in soft illumination, captures the essence of nature's brilliance. The intricate details of the petals radiate warmth and vitality against a blurred background.
This plant loves full sun and has adaptable soil preferences.
botanical-name botanical name Solidago spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Beautiful solidago, or goldenrod, enlivens the landscape and provides food for pollinators with golden yellow bloom clusters from summer through fall. Most solidago species are native to North America and naturalize readily in the landscape. Well-behaved varieties won’t spread as quickly to other garden areas.

Solidago attracts numerous bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Deadhead spent blooms to prolong flowering and to prevent spread by seed (but leave some seeds for the birds who find it a valuable food source).

Solidago grows best in full sun and is both heat-tolerant and cold-hardy. It prefers consistent moisture and well-draining soils, though it’s also highly tolerant of poor and dry soils in the landscape.

Yarrow

Delicate clusters of white yarrow flowers, their petals arranged in intricate patterns, adorning slender stems that gracefully sway in the breeze. The blurred background beautifully captures the lush greenery, creating a serene and natural backdrop for the floral display.
A North American native perennial, yarrow adds feathery texture and color to wildflower plantings.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Yarrow, a North American native perennial, brings feathery texture and color to the wildflower planting. Large, flat flower heads attract pollinators and make yarrow worth incorporating into the mix.

This cold-hardy wildflower is available in a variety of cultivars that range in size. Grey-green feathery leaves range from short with prolific blooms on petite stalks to tall, upright yarrows that anchor the garden and give a great contrast. A. millefolium features white bloom clusters on tall stems. Cultivars bear gorgeous colors, from salmon to pink to scarlet.

Yarrow is a low-maintenance, full-sun, drought-tolerant perennial. It doesn’t need much more than a sunny spot with well-draining soil to flourish in the garden. Yarrow is a gardener and pollinator favorite, alike.

Final Thoughts

Wildflowers bring joy to the garden, which is especially poignant after a long winter. Opt for cold-hardy varieties that thrive in your zone or colder (with many native plant options available) to ensure success in cold climates.

A blend of complementary forms and colors, wildflowers allow experimenting in the informal garden. They bring the element of surprise to the landscape through color, form, and a bit of trial and error in determining the best growers. Enjoy the show of extended flowering, variation in textures, and tones like true blues not readily found in other blooms, not to mention the fluttering pollinators who’ll delight in the garden, too.

SHARE THIS POST
a shallow bull of bulbs sits in the garden near a paper bag, ready to be planted into the soil.

Flowers

12 Tips for Planting Flowering Bulbs

Would you like to add flowering bulbs to your garden this fall? Flowering bulbs are charming and easy to grow. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares tips for growing flowering bulbs.

Ruby buckwheat blossoms display a mix of pale and deep pink hues, creating a vibrant floral cluster. The tall green stems hold these colorful flowers against a blurred backdrop of a mass planting and evergreens, emphasizing their striking beauty.

Flowers

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Ruby Buckwheat

If you love rare plants and superfood ingredients, you don’t want to miss out on growing ruby buckwheat! Former organic farmer Logan Hailey digs into everything you need to know about cultivating this stunning red-flowering Himalayan buckwheat.

flowering plants rebloom

Flowers

27 Beautiful Flowering Plants That Will Rebloom All Season

Are you in search of flowering plants that will keep blooming all season long? There are many annuals as well as perennials that will bloom for extended periods of time or that will produce a second bloom altogether. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago will share some of her favorite plants that will keep your gardens full of color all summer.

Vibrant purple American Wisteria flowers, gracefully hanging in groups, catch the warm sunlight, showcasing their delicate petals. The vibrant hue contrasts beautifully with the lush green leaves, forming a picturesque scene of nature's vibrant and harmonious beauty.

Flowers

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for American Wisteria

If you are looking for a beautiful, vigorous vining plant that produces lots of gorgeous, fragrant flowers, consider American wisteria for your garden. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares all you need to know about cultivating and growing this excellent plant.

Pink roses climbing on a trellis in the garden

Flowers

31 Beautiful Climbing Roses for Trellises and Arbors

Are you considering adding a climbing rose to your garden? Climbing roses add drama and romance and make the most of vertical space. In this article, gardening expert and rose enthusiast Danielle Sherwood shares 31 of her top climbing roses to fit all garden styles, with names and pictures of each!