When just about all the nursery flowers you have so carefully nurtured all summer being to finish blooming, you can count on Mother Nature’s no-care wild flowers. As the corn and soybeans turn from green to brown, the bright yellows of goldenrod and the dark purple of ironweed and lighter shades of wild asters grace ditches and fence lines. Why not bring them into your flower garden?
There are companies that sell wild flowering plants and seeds, Ohio Prairie Nursery and Wildflower Farm being just two such businesses. But why pay when you can plant for free? Wait until the plants are finished blooming and gather seeds your self or talk part of a root cutting. Wild plants tend to be quite hardy and can stand replanting.
Goldenrod with its showy yellow cascades of flower gets a bad reputation from allergy sufferers who suppose it is the cause of their sneezing and runny nose, but the real cause is ragweed, a wild plant that spews pollen in the fall and blooms at the same time. Once established, goldenrod will grow from the same root stalk the following year and reseed itself.
There are 100 varieties of goldenrod, all preferring full sun. The long stalks with their drooping flower heads may need some staking to avoid overhanging other plants.
Ironweed is from the daisy family and like goldenrod and asters attract bees and various types of butterflies and moths. Ironweed in particular is a butterfly magnet. It loves fertile soil and moderately damp conditions. The dark purple flower clusters make an attractive contrast with its deep green foliage.
There are several types of ironweed, but tall ironweed, so named because it can reach heights of seven to 10 feet, is common in Ohio. The plant is said to get its name from the sturdy plant stems that were so durable that children of the early settlers made kite frames out of them. Native Americans used the root as a pain reliever.
Asters come in hundreds of varieties and colors, from pale blue to dark purple and even white and pink. The Garden City website gives a wealth of information for Ohioans wanting to plant wild asters.
For information on other wild flowers, check out the Ohio Department of Natural Resources . The site offers pictures and information on flowers you may want to plant and a good guide to identifying wild flowering plants in every season. Gardeners might try wild lobelia or different species of wild coneflowers. The reward is an easy-to-care-for sea of autumn color.