Good Day Gardening: Embracing wildflowers with Hershey Gardens

While some gardeners, master or novice, consider wildflowers to be a nuisance, they can have a place in the garden. As part of Good Day PA’s Good Day Gardening segment, Hershey Gardens showed a few varieties of wildflowers that are perfect for planting in hard-to-get places.

According to Horticulture Coordinator Brooke Umberger, wildflowers are great for adding fall color as well as color throughout every season in a temperate area. All wildflowers are native plants, which grow more successfully because they have lived in their native regions respectively for thousands of years and they need less water. Wildflowers are great for the environment because they provide habitats for pollinators and they need virtually no maintenance – only needing to be mowed down once a year. They require no fertilizer or pesticides.IMG_5386

Umberger explained that the best locations for planting a wildflower garden include hard to maintain areas, such as hills, embankments, meadows and hard-to-mow areas that get full sun. You should avoid soggy areas, such as gullies.

The following plants and grasses feature qualities that make for strong wildflower habitats”

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – Perennial
– Tough native plant characterized by bright yellow daisy- like petals and blackish brown centers. Very popular
– Blooms from June to October
– Can reach 3 feet tall or more
– Does well in full sun or light shade
– A pollinator – attracts butterflies, bees and insects
– Perfect plant for drought, deer, and rabbit resistance not to mention it takes little to no maintenance care.

Early Goldenrod (Solidago) – Perennial
– Another tough native plant characterized by blazing gold, small flowers in plume-like formations
– Blooms from late August to October
– Can reach 3 feet tall or more
– Pollinator – butterflies
– Full sun to shade
– Provides great border for other perennials
– Though this plant is falsely accused of causing bad allergies (ragweed), there are quite a few ornamental varieties that do not reseed and are shorter in height than the traditional Goldenrod seen along road sides
– Makes great cut flowers

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) – Perennial
– Native plant characterized by bright yellow-orange centers with blooms ranging from blue-purple to lavender-pink
– Blooms from August to September
– Can grow up to 6 feet high; pinch back stems many times before July if you do not want full height
– Another great pollinator – provides critical fall nectar source for pollinators, especially Monarch butterflies.
– Deer resistant
– Full sun to light shade
– Great in a butterfly garden

Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) – Perennial
– Characterized by densely leaved bushes that display light green to almost white leaves, which have a strong mint spearmint aroma when crushed.
– Grows up to 5 feet tall
– Tiny, tubular flowers in pale lavender; blooms from July to September
– Attracts butterflies and bees
– Best grown in containers.

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) – Ornamental Grass/Perennial
–  New growth occurs in August and is bluish, which turns to a reddish-gold color by September and throughout the winter months into February. Most striking when grass is reddish-gold
–  Grows 2 to 4 feet
–  Full sun; drought tolerant
–  Can perform well in almost any soil
–  Provides nice visual contrast with wildflowers
–  Native and ornamental grasses tend to be very hardy and thus perform well into the fall months
–  Great for helping with soil erosion on steep hills due to their growing habit

Learn more from Hershey Gardens:
170 Hotel Road
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-3492
HersheyGardens.org

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