A drive across Kansas might lead you to think the state is entirely given over to vast corn and wheat fields. The rich soils that make Kansas one of America's great farm states, however, also support an enormous range of native flowering plants. Because they're native plants, they have adapted well to Kansas' growing conditions. Adding a few of them to your Kansas garden can provide low-maintenance color and fragrance.
Growing wild in the rocky soil of north and south central Kansas' open area, perennial pincushion daisy (Gaillardia suavis) grows up to 2 feet. Blooming from March to May, the plant's flowers quickly lose their few red, orange or yellow petals. They leave behind reddish-brown pincushion-like centers that make interesting additions to floral arrangements.
On warm days, the flowers are noticeably fragrant. Plant pincushion daisies in part shade and dry, acidic soil. Providing them with adequate water and removing spent flowers will extend their blooming season.
Between March and May, bluebowls (Giliastrum rigidulum) cover southwestern Kansas' dry prairies and hills with a sea of violet. Their clustered deep-blue flowers often conceal the plants' tough, prickly leaves. The blooms' vivid yellow centers are bull's-eyes for nectar-seeking bees and butterflies.
These small shrubs, seldom reaching 3 feet, like sunny locations and dry soil. They thrive in the caliche (soil high in calcium carbonate) that spells doom for so many other plants.
Four Point Evening Primrose
Four point evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala) grows throughout Kansas. It's most common in the sandy soil along the central state's roadsides and streams. This biennial plant reaches up to 3 feet in its second year, producing spikes of deep yellow 2-to-3-inch flowers that open at dusk.
Plants bloom from May until September. Four point evening primrose, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, likes sandy or sandy loam soil, and sun or part shade. Regular summer watering will prolong the bloom period.
Scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea) occurs across central and western Kansas' open prairies. Like bluebowls, these perennials do well in caliche. Native Americans would crush globe mallow leaves to make poultices for irritated skin.
Growing up to 1 foot, scarlet globe mallow plants produce several flowering stems. They sometimes colonize over large areas. Its pinkish-orange blooms appear in small clusters between April and September, making an attractive contrast with its green leaves. Birds and small mammals eat the fruit that follows the flowers. Plants like sun and dry, light limestone-based or sandy clay soils.