Photo by Melody

Forbs of the Southern Prairie Garden Part 2

By Mitch Fitzgerald (MitchFAugust 12, 2007

As we discussed in part one, much of the southern United States is catching on to the native plant movement. The hardest thing for the southern gardener is finding those plants that look good in our area and will stand up to the heat. These plants can be added to a cottage look garden, they can be mixed into borders, or they can be used to build a full prairie garden.

Gardening picture

This is the second section of the flowering plants of the southern prairie. The first section is here. In the section below most of the major plants can be used in the prairie garden and most of these plants can be used in any landscape garden as well.


Lupinus texensis, Bluebonnets are the staple of the prairie garden in Texas. Aside from being the state flower, these are also a stunning plant that grows in big drifts. A great annual that is a must have for any home garden.


Mentzelia decapetala, Evening Star is a wonderful, understated plant. This is not one of the plants that is going to wow your guests but it is one of the plants that fills in nicely, plays well with others, and blooms over a long time period. The creamy yellow flowers stand up about 3 feet tall and can be the show of the garden. Sorry, but there are no photos in the plantfiles yet for this wonderful plant.


Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot is a great, fast spreading, perennial for the garden. The three feet tall plants with violet to pink blooms will be attractive to many of your garden visitors. They are also a favorite plant of hummingbirds and will bring in butterflies, too. These are a real treasure to the garden when you have the space to let them grow.


Oenothera missouriensis, Ozark Sundrops are the heralds of summer. In the first few weeks of summer these plants come alive, are covered with bright yellow flowers, and are welcoming bees and children to come out to play. Once planted, this is one of those plants that will never leave your garden-- so plant wisely.


Oenothera speciosa, Evening Primrose are the wonderful first flowers of spring. These plants are covered in pink or white blossoms that die down in the summer--only to come back in the fall. These plants weave in and out of everything in the area you plant them in. These are not going to be gone any time soon but these plants are welcome in my garden and are a great plant if you can take them going everywhere.


Palafoxia rosea, Rose Palafoxia is a late bloomer in the garden, not showing its head until the end of summer and the start of fall. The showy pink flowers are borne on slender stems that are both heat and drought tolerant.


Penstmon tenuis, Brazos Penstemon is a perennial reaching just over a foot tall with wonderful little bells that are a shinning star in the native prairie bed. This plant does well in any landscape placement and should be the first on any must have list for natives in the garden.


Petalostemum candidum, Prairie Clover is a often overlooked plant that is perfect in the prairie garden. Standing tall in the garden these plants help fill in around grasses and other garden flowers. This is not one for the flower beds but is still a stunning plant in the garden.


Petalostemon purpureus, Purple Prairie Clover is just a little better in the formal garden than Candidum but it is well worth some space in the garden. The purple flowers are tall and stand above the leaves, easy to see and also easy to pass by without notice in the garden. This is one of the wonderful surprises in the native garden.


Ratibida columnifera, Mexican Hats are the first step in any garden to so many wonderful, and at times rare, garden flowers. They are easy to grow, bright flowers that love the heat of our summers. They will start by just one little plant and in just a few years they will be everywhere in the garden.


Salvia farinacea, Mealy Cup Sage is the single best sage for the prairie garden. The wonderful blue is a beautiful example of flowers standing heat and drought. I have never seen this plant without a horde of bees around them.


Solidago speciosa, Showy Goldenrod is a moderate goldenrod that reaches four feet in height. The golden plumes of flowers are a real standout in the garden. It is often blamed for hayfever but goldenrod is not the cause of hayfever. Hayfever is caused by ragweed.


Sphaeralcea coccinea, Cowboy’s Delight is a tame garden plant reaching just 6 to 12 inches tall with showy scarlet red flowers. This perennial needs fast draining soil and some space between the plants. This plant is not for most flower beds but where you have the right space and good soil this is a jewel that will outshine the rest of the garden plants.

  About Mitch Fitzgerald  
Mitch FitzgeraldI am a pentecostal preacher, gardener,husband, and a father. I love natives, daylilies, iris, and roses. I love teaching others, be they children or adults, about the garden and plants.

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