Indiana gardeners enjoy a gentler climate than many in the Midwest. USDA hardiness zone 5 stretches from the Michigan border south; the southeast and southwest corners of the state enjoy zone 6 weather. Hoosiers grow hundreds of types of flowers but favorites are often old-fashioned blooms like their state flower, the peony. The state wildflower, round-lobed hepatica, is a native plant that grows in open woodlands.
Indiana gardeners are rediscovering their native plants. Natives require less care, attract fewer pests and suffer fewer diseases than imported species. Pale purple and gray-headed coneflowers, lazy Susans, shooting stars and blazing stars greeted early settlers. Wild bergamot, an aggressive grower, provides aromatic leaves as well. A variety of native asters and summer phlox provide cut flowers; common and western yarrow, Eastern red columbine and black cohosh are "wildflowers" that graced grandmothers' gardens. Southern blue monkshood and Eastern bluestar attest to Indiana's position in a cultural intersection of East, Midwest and South. Rare Dutchman's pipe and Jack-in-the pulpit are natives, too. Cardinal flower and great blue lobelia thrive in wetland areas.
Daylilies and Peonies
Two non-native plants have achieved favored status in the Hoosier state. The peony is Indiana's state flower and although non-native, a well-adapted favorite. Herbaceous, lactiflora and tree peonies are popular. In addition to the old globular forms, rose or anemone-form blooms come in colors ranging from red, pink and coral to apricot, yellow and white. The tawny daylily that lines Indiana roads from one end of the state to the other owes its start in the state to A.B. Stout, the father of the modern daylily who began his career as a botany teacher at Indiana University. The Southwestern Indiana Daylily Society and Southern Indiana Daylily Society provide information and support to thousands of hobbyists who provide new hybrids every year. These folks trade "snips" and contribute to society stores, providing short, medium and tall plants, reblooming daylilies, exotic "spider" blooms and even fern-leaf and semi-evergreen varieties.
Flowering Shrubs and Trees
Non-native magnolias grow easily in southern Indiana and hardy varieties grow throughout the state. Native Eastern red bud, American plum and Catawba-tree bloom in spring. Azaleas and rhododendrons are not natives but both will prosper in Hoosier soil, particularly in woodland areas. Flowering native shrubs make reliable hedgerows; pagoda dogwood blooms in early summer. White meadowsweet, a spirea, and shrubby cinquefoil, a potentilla, bloom all summer.