Minnesota experiences a continental climate with frigid winters and warm summers. The state of Minnesota falls within the Untied States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zones 2 to 4. Minnesota gardeners should choose flowers according to plant hardiness, intended use, flower color and bloom time. Various flowering plants perform well in Minnesota gardens.
The yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum), also called the dogtooth violet, belongs to the Liliaceae plant family and generally grows in large colonies. Naturally occurring in moist Minnesota woodlands, this plant prefers rich soils in part shade. This herbaceous perennial features mottled, brown or maroon leaves and stems that reach up to 12 inches. Flower petals have yellow insides and bronze outsides. These flowers bloom from March through May. Yellow trout-lilies work well as ground cover.
Moccasin flowers (Cypripedium acaule) naturally occur in dry woodlands across Minnesota. Moccasin flowers bear leafless stalks and single flowers from April through July. The flowers feature pink petals with red veins. This perennial prefers sandy soils in partial to full shade positions. The glandular foliage hairs cause skin irritations in some individuals. Gardeners often plant moccasin flowers in woodland margins. This orchid family member (Orchidaceae) is difficult to propagate in garden settings.
The cowslip (Caltha palustris), a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), forms mounds reaching up to 2 feet in both height and spread. Also called the yellow marsh marigold, this perennial features heart-shaped leaves, hollow stems and clusters of large, yellow flowers that appear in April and May. Cowslips prefer humusy, muddy soils in partial to full shade. Minnesota gardeners often use these hardy plants in woodland gardens and stream margins.
The Virginia springbeauty (Claytonia virginica) grows from a tuber and reaches up to 12 inches in height. This plant features grass-like leaves and pink or white flower clusters that bloom from January through May. This purslane family member (Portulaceae) likes moist, acidic soils that receive partial shade. Early Native Americans and American colonists used the tubers as a food source. Minnesota gardeners often use the Virginia springbeauty in woodland gardens.
The pickerelweed, a member of the Pontederiaceae plant family, typically grows in shallow, still waters. This perennial bears green, heart-shaped leaves and spikes of small, dark blue to violet-blue flowers. These hyacinth-like flowers add color to Minnesota landscape from June through September. Reaching up to 3 feet in height, the pickerelweed prefers sandy or loamy soils in partially shady to fully sunny locations. Gardeners typically plant pickerelweeds in bogs, ponds and water gardens.
The scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), also called the painted cup, belongs to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). This annual blooms from May through June, featuring non-showy, green blossoms hidden by showy flower bracts that seem to have been dipped in scarlet red paint. Mature plants reach up to 2 feet in height. The scarlet paintbrush naturally thrives in the moist, sandy soils of Minnesota prairies and meadows. This flowering plant works well in native plant gardens and wildflower gardens.