Husker Hort

A Nebraska View of Horticulture


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Wild About Wildflowers

monarch-2811177_1920

Monarch feeding on joe-pye weed

 

A week devoted to wildflowers is just about as good as a holiday devoted to trees. While Arbor Day is a well-known holiday celebrated across the state, Nebraska Wildflower Week should be celebrated just as much.

 

Nebraska Wildflower weeks’ focus is on embracing wildflowers and native plants. The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) coordinates Wildflower Week activities bringing together a list of entities that know the true value of wildflowers.  Wildflower Week events are planned across the state June 1-11. View the 2018 Nebraska Wildflower Week events statewide and resources here: https://plantnebraska.org/connect/events/wildflowers.html

Wildflowers and native plants can be unique and interesting additions to the landscape. What is the difference between native plants and wildflowers?  The terms “native” and “wildflower” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference.  Native plants in the Great Plains are generally described as those found growing in a defined area prior to European settlers.  Wildflowers are described as flowering plants that grow with little or no human help.  They can either be native or introduced, or brought in from other areas.  Both wildflowers and native plants work well in low maintenance areas and in sites that need hardy, drought tolerant plants.

“Wildflowers endure through hard times, lending beauty and brightness even to landscapes rarely seen by human eyes. Their flowers and seeds feed birds, butterflies and other wildlife; their roots loosen and improve soil; and they lend fragrance and beauty to wild places, making us want to take a closer look at places we might otherwise ignore.”  Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

Elizabeth’s Top 5 Wildflower Picks of 2018:

Purple Prairie Clover, Dalea purpureum There are several species of Dalea, but this is a very common one.  In June the flower spikes are covered with tiny rose-purple colored flowers that work well as cut flowers.  The plants can get between 1-3 feet tall, prefer full sun, and well-drained soil.  The cultivar ‘Stephanie’ was bred right here in Nebraska.

Joe-pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum– does very well in wet areas. The straight species can get up to 6 feet tall, but the cultivar ‘Little Joe’ gets only 3-4 foot tall.  The red-violet blooms are held above the foliage in July to September and are a butterfly magnet.

Evening Primrose, Oenothera species- These low growing plants work great near the edge of a bed or used to help to soften the end of a sidewalk. Bright yellow flower show up June through September and are followed by a unique winged seed pod.

Mexican Hat, Ratibida columnifera- This coneflower looks very similar to another native plant we have, upright prairie coneflower, except the petals are bright yellow and deep red. It is a ‘short lived’ perennial that prefers full sun and well drained soils.

Pussytoes, Antennaria species- The name describe the plant very well, the flowers look like little white or pink cat toes at the end of the flower stalk. While the flowers aren’t very showy, this is a tough-as-nails groundcover plant that works well in hot, dry locations.

This is just a sample of my favorites, but there are many more interesting wildflowers to learn about. More information about wildflowers can be found in a Nebraska Extension NebGuide, a University publication, ‘Wildflowers for the Home Landscape’.  Go to http://extensionpubs.unl.edu/  and search for the keyword ‘wildflowers’.

Elizabeth Killinger is the Horticulture Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension in Hall County. For more information contact Elizabeth at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, her blog at https://huskerhort.com/, or HuskerHort on Facebook and Twitter.

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Nebraska Wildflower Week 2017

blue flax

Blue Flax- photo taken by M. Knuth

 

A week devoted to wildflowers is just about as good as a holiday devoted to trees. While Arbor Day is a well-known holiday celebrated across the state, Nebraska Wildflower Week should be celebrated just as much.

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Wildflower Week 2015

A great resource that helps to identify different wildflowers.

A great resource that helps to identify  wildflowers.

Wildflower Week is in full bloom. What exactly is Wildflower Week and what is a wildflower? Wildflowers and native plants are very versatile plants that have multiple benefits in the landscape. Some wildflowers are a cut above the rest and are worth a try in your garden. Continue reading


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Nebraska Wildflower Week

Bumblebee and Echinacea

Bumblebee and Echinacea

Wildflower Week is in full bloom.  What exactly is Wildflower Week and what is a wildflower?  Wildflowers and native plants are very versatile plants that have multiple benefits in the landscape.  Some wildflowers are a cut above the rest and are worth a try in your garden.

“WHEREAS, prairies, woodlands and other natural plant communities are essential to the ecological health of Nebraska, and give the land its great beauty and unique character, and WHEREAS, Nebraska is rich in wildflowers, grasses, trees and other native plants with beauty and hardiness that commends their use for landscaping homes, businesses and community green space. NOW, THEREFORE, I Dave Heineman, Governor of the State of Nebraska , DO HEREBY PROCLAIM the first week of June, as Nebraska Wildflower Week, and I do hereby urge all citizens to participate in events and activities during Nebraska Wildflower Week that foster understanding, enjoyment and conservation of Nebraska’s wildflowers and other native plants. “— Governor Dave Heineman

Nebraska Wildflower Weeks’ focus is on embracing wildflowers and native plants of Nebraska.  Nebraska Wildflower Week will be observed in early June when Nebraska’s prairies and gardens are typically at their prime. National Wildflower Week, which is coordinated by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas, is observed in early May

The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) coordinates Wildflower Week activities in which they bring together organizations that know the true value of wildflowers.  Visit NSA’s website at http://arboretum.unl.edu to find out about Wildflower Week events across the state June 4-11.

Wildflowers and native plants can be unique and interesting additions to the landscape.  What is the difference between native plants and wildflowers?  The terms “native” and “wildflower” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference.  Native plants in the Great Plains are generally described as those found growing in a defined area prior to European settlers.  Wildflowers are described as flowering plants that grow with little or no human help.  They can either be native or introduced, or brought in from other areas.  Both wildflowers and native plants work well in low maintenance areas and in sites that need hardy, drought tolerant plants.

Elizabeth’s top 5 wildflower picks of 2013:

Leadplant, Amorpha canescens–  the violet-blue, spike-like blooms are held on a 1-4’ tall woody plant.  The plant blooms in June and July followed by an interesting seed pod.  The dusty green-gray foliage is a good indicator of just how drought tolerant this plant can be.

Dame’s Rocket, Hesperis matronalis– While it’s an introduced plant, it’s still a show-stopper when in full bloom.  The magenta purple spikes of flowers in May and June can be seen from the road ditches while driving down the highway.

Bee Balm, Monarda species a member of the mint family reaches 2-5 feet tall with pink-lavender flowers in June through August.  This plant is prone to powdery mildew infections, so place in an area with good air circulation or select cultivars that are powdery mildew resistant.

Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla patens-This early spring bloomer has white to purple flowers followed by a fuzzy seed head.  Let the interesting seed head stand throughout the growing season as this allows the plant to reseed itself.

Goldenrod, Solidago species- I wouldn’t be a good Nebraskan if I didn’t mention our state flower Goldenrod.  There are several species of Goldenrod, but all produce a yellow or gold colored flower later in the season around August or September.

This is just a sample of my favorites, but there are many more interesting wildflowers to learn about.  More information about wildflowers can be found in a UNL Extension NebGuide, a University publication, ‘Wildflowers for the Home Landscape’.  Go to http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu and search for the keyword ‘wildflowers’.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at https://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.