Prairies stretch from Canada south through the middle states and as far south as Mexico. Prairies in the North will be more wet, while those in the Southwest exhibit dry conditions. Prairies are alive with a blend of color arranged by the natural propagation of the plants. Gardeners use the plants to replicate the look of a wild prairie or as additions to a traditional garden.
Showy Tick Trefoil
Showy tick trefoil (Desmodium canadense) is a member of the pea family. The plant grows from 2 to 6 feet tall with a profusion of pink or rose-purple flowers growing in clusters at the top of velvety stems. The flowers bloom from June through September. Plant showy thick trefoil in full sun and a soil that is moist to dry. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana Duchesne) is a member of the rose family. The plant produces stems up to 6 inches long, each one with a single leaf. White flowers grow in loose clusters in April, May and June and give way to the red strawberries. Plant wild strawberry in full sun or partial shade and dry soil. Wildlife will stop by and make a meal out of the fruit. Butterflies will stop by for a drink of the nectar.
Wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) grows from 1 to 3 feet tall and features cup-shaped, red-orange flowers growing in groups of one to five at the top of the stems in July and August. Long, thin, light-green leaves grow in a circle around the stems. Plant wood lily in full sun, partial shade or full shade and rich, dry soil. Hummingbirds are attracted by the large, colorful flowers.
Plains Prickly Pear
Plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza Engelm) is a member of the cactus family. The plant grows up to 10 inches tall and produces from six to 10 flat, blue-green pads up to 4 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Yellow, red or orange flowers grow on the older pads, measure 2 to 3 inches across and bloom in May and June. The flowers give way to red-purple fruit. Plant plains prickly pear in full sun and a dry soil. Deer find the plant unappetizing and will give it a wide berth.
Virginia Mountain Mint
Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) grows from 2 to 3 feet tall. Small, white flowers are speckled with purple and grow in thick clusters in July and August. Plant Virginia mountain mint in partial shade and a moist soil. The plant is a favorite of the local butterflies.