Wildflowers offer a welcome colorful view in wide-open fields that would otherwise be lush with only green and brown hues from grasses and other foliage. Many are very adaptable and certain varieties even thrive after natural disturbances, such as forest fires. These hardy plants represent a wide range of colors, sizes and textures, making many of them good for home landscape inclusion.
Chicory is a perennial that has wiry, unimpressive foliage, but its light-blue flowers are showoffs in fields and along roadsides. According to Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture, the roots of this plant were used to make most of the coffee in the United States when World War II disrupted shipping. The coffee is caffeine-free and regaining a gastronomic foothold. Chicory is a European native that has naturalized throughout most of North America. It establishes easily from seeds and has a deep taproot and grows up to 4 feet tall. The flowers last only one day but the plants produce blooms from May through October. Cultivate these plants in herb gardens or isolated areas where they cannot crowd out other plants. Provide them with full sun and well-drained soil.
Like chicory, gold yarrow is a European native that is now found throughout North America. It grows from 2 to 4 feet tall and features small, bright-yellow flowers that are tightly bunched into disk-shaped clusters that sit atop stems. They flower from May through November and have a 10- to 14-day vase life. Cut them when half of the flowers are fully open to allow the rest to open in an arrangement. The foliage is feathery, resembling ferns. Sow the seeds by simply sprinkling them on top of the soil. Plant them in full sun and in soil that is light but rich along borders and on slopes and hillsides.
Foxglove is one of the more showy wildflowers found at the edges of fields and in other areas where shade is more prevalent. These European natives are naturalized in the Northeast and northwestern United States. The bell-shaped flowers grow on tall spikes, and come in hues ranging from deep purple to light pink. Dark spots sprinkle the throats of each flower. Foxgloves grow from 2 to 4 feet tall and bloom from June through September. They are biennials, with the leaves forming a rosette the first year and flower spikes appearing the second year. Cultivate the seeds in nitrogen-rich, sandy soil and in partial sun or full shade.
Purple Coneflowers are drought-tolerant perennials that are native to Midwestern and Southeastern United States meadows. Butterflies visit them for their nectar, found amidst their dark, spiky, coned centers that are surrounded by lavender petals. The flowers reach up to 3 feet tall and bloom from June through October, making them good additions to perennial flower gardens, butterfly gardens and along mixed borders. They have a vase life of five to seven days. Grow them in full sun or partial shade, and in well-drained, fertile soil.