Gardeners in Kansas can choose from a variety of plants for the home garden, but some require more attention than others. Planting native species can create a low-maintenance garden that still provides year-round interest and attracts wildlife. Native plants have adapted to the climate and weather conditions of the region and thus require little to no water, fertilization or pest and disease control.
The bright yellow, daisy-like flowers of black-eyed susan, or Rudbeckia hirta, bloom in the summer throughout Kansas. The dark centers of the flowers form a cone and bees and butterflies visit the blooms for nectar. The hairy, rough stems reach 1- to 2-feet tall. Plant black-eyed susans in full sun or partial shade. Blooms may last longer if provided with afternoon shade. It tolerates moist or dry soil as long as it is well-drained.
The crooked, branching stalks of Polygonatum biflorum, commonly known as Solomon's seal, grow up to 5 feet long. Bright green oblong leaves and pairs of bell-shaped, greenish white flowers appear on the branches in spring. Blue berries, favored by birds, appear in the summer. Native to woods and thickets, Solomon's seal prefers partial to full shade and rich, acidic soil. It grows best in eastern Kansas and does well when planted under trees.
Liatris aspera, also known as rough gayfeather, grows wild in prairies and thin woods throughout Kansas. The slightly crooked, hairy stems bear thin, bright green leaves and reach up to 4 feet tall. Round pink or lavender flower heads bloom on the top 18 to 32 inches of the stems in the summer, and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Rough gayfeather tolerates drought and enjoys rocky or sandy soil. Choose a location in full sun for this Kansas native.
Fragrant sumac, or Rhus aromatica, grows wild in rocky prairies and fields in Kansas. This deciduous, spreading shrub reaches up to 12 feet tall and features fragrant, glossy, bluish green leaves. The leaves turn purple, red and yellow in the fall. Butterflies visit the pale yellow flowers in the spring. The red berries of female plants appear in summer and remain on the shrub throughout the winter, attracting birds and small mammals. Plant fragrant sumac in sun or shade. It tolerates drought and most soil types including clay, sandy, and loamy soil.
The clump-forming grass known as sideoats grama, or Bouteloua curtipendula, reaches 2 to 3 feet tall. Purplish flowers form on one side of the stems and attract butterflies in the summer and fall. The bluish green leaves sometimes turn red or purple in the fall. Sideoats grama grows wild in Kansas prairies and prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Birds often eat the seeds and use the grass for nesting material.