Prairies across the United States bloom with purple flowers in spring and summer. Many of these flowering prairie plants can be grown successfully in the home landscape, as individual specimens or in a prairie garden. In addition to offering attractive blooms, flowering prairie plants attract insects, birds and other wildlife seeking food and shelter.
Purple coneflower, or Echinacea purpurea, grows 2 to 4 feet tall. This prairie plant features dark green leaves and drooping, purple flowers with a raised disk in the center. The flowers bloom in late spring and summer and attract butterflies, birds and bees. Grow purple coneflower in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8 in full sun and well-drained soil. Deadheading after blooms have faded will improve the appearance of the plant but will not encourage more flowering.
Meadow Blazing Star
The rough, hairy stems of meadow blazing star grow between 2 and 4 feet tall and bear fuzzy, grass-like leaves. In late summer and early fall, tall cylindrical spikes of flowers bloom. The blooms open from the top of the spike downward and account for half of the plant's height. Stamens extend from the flowers and give the plant a soft, feathery look. Also known as Liatris pycnostachya, meadow blazing star tolerates drought and heat and performs best in zones 3 to 9. Plant in acidic, moist, well-drained soil. Meadow blazing star prefers rocky, sandy loam of poor quality.
New England Aster
The fall-blooming New England aster grows up to 4 feet tall. Thick stems bear hairy leaves and purple flowers with raised, yellowish orange centers. Also known as Aster novae-angliae, New England aster grows best in zones 4 to 8. Plant in full sun and acidic soil. Cut back New England aster several times during the growing season to prevent having to stake the tall flowers. Once the foliage and blooms begin to fade, cut the plant back to the ground.
Wild bergamot, or Monarda fistulosa, belongs to the mint family and reaches 1 to 5 feet in height. In the summer, clusters of lavender flowers appear on the tops of the soft, hairy stems. Grow wild bergamot in zones 3 to 8 in full sun or partial shade. It tolerates most soil conditions. Powdery mildew often attacks wild bergamot if it does not receive proper air circulation. Space plants 12 to 24 inches apart to prevent attacks of powdery mildew.
Tradescantia virginiana, commonly known as Virginia spiderwort, grows between 1 and 2 feet tall. Smooth leaves grow from the hairy stems and in spring and summer, purple flowers bloom. Each flower only opens for one day but new flowers continually emerge throughout the growing season and blooming lasts up to 20 weeks. Grow this prairie flower in zones 3 to 9 in dry soil. In cooler areas, Virginia spiderwort prefers full sun but in warm regions it will do best if provided with afternoon shade. Cut back the flowers after blooming to encourage more flowers and improve the overall appearance of the plant.