Woods & Mountains
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10 Tough Wildflowers for Your Cabin Gardens

By Neil Diboll
Published: February 17, 2011
There are hundreds of native wildflowers from which to choose for your cabin garden. Some of the showiest and most widely adaptable wildflowers for full sun to light shade are highlighted here for cabin gardeners in both eastern and western states.


Red Milkweed Asclepias rubra
Well behaved and adaptable to almost any soil, the leaves are a favorite food of monarch butterflies. The bright pink to red flowers light up the summer garden.

Purple Coneflower
Photo by dreamstime.com

Pale Purple Coneflower
Echinacea pallida
Tougher and more drought-resistant than its cousin the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), it also blooms a month earlier. Butterflies flock to it!

Rattlesnake Master Eryngium yuccifolium
One of the most distinctive of all native prairie plants, with bright white “golf ball” flowers and yucca-like foliage. A totally unique plant!

Prairie Blazing Star Liatris pycnostachya
Huge wands of bright pink flowers make this a mid-summer garden standout. Does well in any good garden soil, and tolerates moist sites as well.

Sweet Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia subtomentosa
Not only is the one of the longest-lived of the Rudbeckias, it has great foliage to go with its bright yellow flowers. Thrives in good garden soil and tolerates moisture well.


Panayoti Kelaidis of the Denver Botanic Gardens recommends the following wildflowers for the Rocky Mountain region for their stunning beauty and strong adaptability:

Colorado Columbine
Photo by dreamstime.com
Colorado Columbine Aquilegia coerulea
America’s favorite columbine, it grows from the lower foothills to high above the treeline throughout the Rocky Mountains. Although relatively short lived, it often self-sows onto open rocky soils.

Sulfur Flower Eriogonum umbellatum var. aureum ‘Kannah Creek’
Sulfur flower is one of the most adaptable flowers for dry areas of the mountain west. Golden flowers age to a rusty red in early and mid summer.

Coyote Mint Monardella odoratissima
Widely adaptable, this beautiful and aromatic plant forms dense mounds with bright lilac blooms that attract a host of butterflies.
Sandia Primrose
Photo by dreamstime.com
Sandia Primrose Primula ellisiae (rusbyi)
This easiest to grow and longest-lived western primrose sports stunning deep red flowers for weeks in late spring. Great for rock gardens!

Wild Iris
Photo by dreamstime.com
Western Flag, Wild Iris Iris missouriensis
With lavender to blue and sometimes white flowers, this is a great choice for moist soils and rich garden loam. The intricately patterned blooms are a welcome late spring sight!

Author Neil Diboll owns Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wis., www.prairienursery.com.

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