I love changes in the seasons. The dawn of spring, however – giving forth increased warmth, a variety of distinctive earthy to sweet smells, green and colorful sights, and sounds from many species of waking wildlife — is a favored time of the year.
Spring-blooming prairie and woodland plants are among the first to take advantage of warmer soils and days with increasingly just enough sunshine. Their green shoots emerge early and produce colorful flowers that feed early pollinators and brighten sunny to partially-shaded landscapes.
The following are some of my favorite spring prairie and open woodland plants that also serve as landscaping gems because they flower in March, April, and May:
|a.||Baptisia australis var. major||blue false indigo||full sun|
|b.||Callirhoe involucrata||purple poppy mallow||full sun|
|c.||Clematis fremontii||Fremont’s clematis||full sun|
|d.||Geum triflorum||prairie smoke||full sun|
|e.||Koeleria cristata||Junegrass||full sun|
|f.||Oenothera macrocarpa||Missouri evening primrose||full sun|
|g.||Penstemon cobaea||penstemon cobaea||full sun|
|h.||Penstemon digitalis||foxglove beardtongue||full sun|
|i.||Pullsatilla patens||pasque flower||full sun|
|j.||Tradescantia tharpii||spiderwort||full sun|
|k.||Verbena canadensis||rose verbena||full sun|
|l.||Amsonia tabernaemontana||blue star||part shade|
|m.||Aquilegia canadensis||columbine||part shade|
|n.||Heuchera richardsonii||coral bells||part shade|
|o.||Senecio plattensis||golden ragwort||part shade|
|p.||Zizia aurea||golden alexander||part shade|
There are so many benefits to be found in landscaping with native plants. They will greatly enhance the biological diversity and ecology of your yard by providing food for insect larvae and flower nectar for pollinators. Small mammals and birds feast on the abundance of available seeds. Predatory insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles will find food in the abundance of available insects. Even the smallest of native gardens can be a mini wildlife sanctuary.
Native plant gardens connect us to our natural and cultural history. Even if you don’t use your home landscape today as your grocery store, home improvement store, and pharmacy, Plains Indians and later European settlers certainly did just a few generations ago. The plant and animals of the prairie (especially the bison) were critically important to human survival.
The deep roots and unique traits of native plants make them very adaptable to our Kansas climate and provide sensible and sustainable landscaping. Once established, these plants require little to no supplemental water and require no fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides if properly matched to the site.
Even if you are only interested in colorful garden eye candy, this list of spring flowering native plants will provide a beautiful array of flowers to brighten your spring landscape. You can find these plants at our FloraKansas Plant Sale.