Gardeners in western Kentucky are in a warm, temperate zone where the average lowest night-time winter temperatures range from -5 to -10 degrees, giving them a wide selection of flowering plants that are native to Kentucky to choose from. Plants are available that go in full sun or shade and in different types of soil. Pick small flowers to grow in beds, small shrubs that can grow in the shadow of large trees or large shrubs that can be planted as stand-alone specimen plants, bringing a splash of color to a green landscape.
Eastern Red Columbine
Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), also known as wild red columbine, grows up to 2 feet tall. The plant produces blue to blue-green leaves and red-yellow, 2-inch-long, bell-shaped flowers that bloom from February through July. Plant eastern red columbine in partial shade or full shade and in a soil that is dry to moist but not wet and is not fertilized. Hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and hawk moths will come for the nectar, and finches and buntings will make a meal out of the seeds.
Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) is also known as narrow-leaved sunflower and narrow-leaf sunflower. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall and produces narrow, rough leaves that grow from 3 to 6 inches long and a 1/2 inch wide. The 2- to 3-inch-wide flowers appear in late summer and fall with yellow petals surrounding a red-brown or purple center. Plant the swamp sunflower in full sun and moist soils. The plant will die back to the ground after first frost and reappear the next spring. It is a favorite of butterflies.
American beautyberry( Callicarpa americana) is also known as beautyberry and French mulberry. The shrub grows from 6 to 8 feet tall and produces toothed green or yellow-green leaves that grow from 6 to 8 inches long. Small lilac flowers grow in clusters and appear in spring to be followed by inedible berries. Plant American beautyberry where it can get dappled shade through out the day and in a soil that is well drained and day to slightly moist. Birds will stop by to make a meal out of the berries.
American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia) grows from 10 to 15 feet tall and is slightly taller than it is wide. The shrub produces dark green leaves that grow from 2 to 4 inches long and turn a pale yellow in the fall. Green-white bell-shaped flowers appear in May and grow in clusters that grow up to 2 inches long. Pale-green fruit follows the flowers, turning to brown when they mature in September. Plant American bladdernut in full shade and in most, well-drained soils.