Wildflowers are among the most striking flowers that you can grow in your garden. While most of the plants on this list are grown for their ornamental value, it might surprise you to know that they are wildflowers.
This guide sets out everything you need to know about wildflowers, including how to care for them, and what types you can grow in your own garden.
What Are Wildflowers?
Wildflowers are plants that are found naturally. That is to say, they grow in places without humans planting them.
For the most part, wildflowers largely take care of themselves, and grow well in different soils and conditions. They are also relatively cheaper than cultivated plants.
So, not only will you be able to fill your garden with color without spending much, but you’ll find that you’ll need to spend less time looking after them, and more time enjoying them.
How to Grow Wildflowers
Like many plants, there are different options when it comes to growing wildflowers.
You can grow them from seed, which is notoriously easy, though you’ll have to wait a little longer for your display to bloom.
You can buy the specific wildflower plants that you want as plugs, and plant them yourself.
If you’re not fussy about exactly which wildflowers you want in your garden, you can also buy turf which is already full of wildflowers, and you can just plant the whole thing in your garden.
How to Get the Best Out of Wildflowers
Firstly, wildflowers need to be planted at the beginning of spring (see also Best Spring Flowers), depending on the variety and how cold-tolerant they are.
With any tender plants, you can start them off inside, and move them outside when the risk of frost has passed.
Raised beds and containers are perfect for wildflowers, as you can readily control weeds more easily. Although, they will also do perfectly well in borders and in the ground.
If your garden is a completely blank slate, you can sow a sea of wildflowers, and simply mow a path round them where you need to, which makes for very little maintenance.
When it comes to keeping grass down, yellow rattle is a plant that will help you hinder its growth.
You’ll also soon see a plethora of wildlife come into your garden, and it will establish its own food chain, where birds will eat the majority of pests.
To give the bees and other pollinators a helping hand during the hot, dry days of summer, fill a shallow container with water, and line it with pebbles for a much-appreciated source of water.
Wild Flowers You Grow in Your Own Garden
Here are just a few of the many wildflowers you can grow in your own garden, sorted by color to help inform your planting scheme.
Rays of sunshine yellows and citrus-hues, these wildflowers will brighten up any space in your garden.
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Black-eyed Susan’
Also known as Rudbeckia hirta, the Black-eyed Susan is one of the most well-known, widely-grown and propagated wildflowers across the world.
These flowers are perfect to add a wealth of color into an empty space, as they will readily spread year after year. They are best for the middle of borders, where they can get full sun, but also shelter from the wind.
Some varieties can reach around 3 feet tall.
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Fennel’
Related to the carrot, fennel is a wonderfully aromatic herb which grows readily in the wild. You can also use this plant in the kitchen.
Some fennel varieties can grow up to 8 feet tall in the right conditions.
For a rich display that will add drama to your garden, you can’t go wrong with purple wildflowers.
While Cleome hassleriana is an annual plant and is a relatively slow growing wildflower, it is worth considering for your space.
It produces tall stems with airy foliage and bright purple blooms, so long as it gets the full sun it needs in order to thrive.
Iberis umbellata ‘Globe Candytuft’
A little similar in appearance to scabiosa, the globe candytuft is a wonderful plant that needs rocky soil in order to thrive.
Viola riviniana ‘Dog Violet’
The only viola which has no fragrance, the dog violet, is nevertheless a lovely plant which produces vivid blue blooms and heart-shaped foliage.
Lamium purpureum ‘Red Dead-nettle’
The common name of Lamium purpureum is a little misleading, as the flowers of the ‘Red Dead-nettle’ are purple. These lovely plants often grow along the sides of the road.
White wildflowers are perfect for any planting scheme you can think of, where they will offset themselves against their lovely foliage and other colors within your garden.
These are very hardy plants. If you want tiny blooms to peek out from under trees with no maintenance needed, snowdrops are for you.
Achillea millefolium ‘Yarrow’
While yarrow comes in many colors, white offers a spray of brightness to any garden.
You need to do very little to care for this plant, though they can be affected by the wind. They also make great cut flowers.
Aegopodium podagraria ‘Bishop’s Weed’
If you don’t mind one plant creating a sea of flowers, ‘Bishop’s Weed’ is the one for you. They produce tiny flowers in huge clusters, and will survive pretty much anywhere.
Trifolium repens ‘White Dutch Clover’
You might have seen these petite flowers before in garden lawns, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t attractive flowers in their own right. Bees also love them.
If you want to inject a very vivid display of color into your garden, you can’t go wrong with red. Red wildflowers are produced in a range of hues, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to planting schemes.
Gaillardia ‘Blanket Flower’
One of the most vivid wildflowers you can get, the ‘blanket flower’ has bright red petals and nearly luminous yellow centers.
Phlox drummondii ‘Drummond Phlox’
Lightly scented, the ‘Drummond phlox’ comes in a range of colors including purple, white, red, and yellow, but red is among the brightest.
While they mainly take care of themselves, these plants will need a lot of water in order to grow properly.
Castilleja indivisa ‘Texas Paintbrush’
Found across Texas – funnily enough – the ‘Texas Paintbrush’ is a captivating plant which needs well-draining soil. If you grow them from seed, you’ll need to sow them in the first few weeks of autumn.
Nasturtium (see also Nasturtium Flower Symbolism) brings countless benefits to any garden. They are easy to grow, a great companion plant for vegetable plots (see also Why You Should Do Companion Planting), they attract many pollinators, and they are also edible, mainly used in salads.
Nasturtiums come in shades of red, yellow, and orange.
For a wealth of positivity and energy, orange wildflowers are among the most impressive available.
Papaver nudicaule ‘Iceland Poppies’
While poppies are usually known as being red or even blue, orange poppies are a sight to see in spring and summer, where they will produce seas of color.
Grown across the world as an ornamental annual, not many people know that Zinnias (see also Zinnia Flower Meaning) are wildflowers.
They produce spectacular blooms that bees love above nearly everything else, and come in a range of colors, including orange, pink, and green.
When it comes to blue flowers, some of the most vivid hues are found in the wild.
Centaurea cyanus ‘Cornflower’
While cornflowers come in many colors, blue is by far the brightest. They also have quite a few medicinal uses, and grow easily from seed.
Nemophila menziesii ‘Baby Blue Eyes’
Commonly found in North America at high altitudes, the baby blue eyes (see also Growing Baby Blue Eyes Flowers) produce a much softer shade of blue, with white ‘eyes’ in the center of each flower.
Veronica persica ‘Field Speedwell’
While most of the flowers on this list are grown ornamentally, this flower is mainly considered to be a weed, as it spreads prolifically.
For much softer sprays of color, you might opt for pink wildflowers.
This plant is quite unusual. It produces huge clusters of small, feathery flowers, and like a magnolia, the leaves will only appear on the plant after the flowers have finished.
Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Garden Columbine’
Despite its delicate appearance, the columbine wildflower can grow pretty much anywhere, and has the benefit of self-seeding, as the perennial flowers only last a few years for each plant.
Wildflowers Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between Wildflowers and Native Flowers?
Native flowers have grown in one specific area for as long as they have existed. This means they’ve had the time to adapt to conditions in this area to grow as best they can.
If you’re planting native flowers, more often than not, pollinators will always visit these first.
Wildflowers don’t always have to be native to grow wild in a location. They may have set seed from a garden, even. They require a little more care than native plants, as they haven’t had the time to adapt to the conditions they grow in.
How Do You Care For a Wildflower Garden?
Caring for a wildflower garden isn’t difficult, but you do need to keep an eye on anything that could become invasive as time goes on.
You may need to alter your planting scheme – if it looks like one plant is spreading to the rest of the garden, you may have to sow something else in its place, or reduce the amount of seeds of that specific plant.
Do I Need to Water a Wildflower Garden?
If you live somewhere that gets very little rain, your wildflower garden will benefit from a good watering occasionally.
Wildflower gardens are perfect for beginners, as they need very little maintenance.
They’re a cheap way to familiarize yourself with looking after plants, and noticing what beneficial wildlife you can attract to your garden, which will benefit all the plants in your garden.