As a nation of gardeners looks forward to spring, the unscientific poll results are in from our Extension Master Gardener Facebook page. We asked, “It is just a little over 5 weeks until spring! What is your favorite native spring flower?” Our followers responded with their favorites and the states where they garden. Below are the top five vote-getters:
|Helleborus – Not a U.S Native, but perhaps a favorite – Ohio
Hellebores, a part of the Ranunculaceae family (“buttercups”), is actually not a native wildlflower of North America. Natives of Europe and Asia, Hellebores here which have escaped their garden borders include blooms in colors ranging from white to pink as well as yellows and blues. Five sepals surround petals which contain nectar, making them a good addition to butterfly and pollinator gardens. Also called “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose,” Hellebores are quite frost-resistant and hardy to zone 6 and above with summer shade. They typically start blooming in December through May. Seed can take 6-18 months to sprout, but propagation by division is fairly easy.
|Desert Lupine, Arizona
Desert Lupine, Lupinus aridus (also known as Douglas desert lupine) is a native wildflower of the Western United States, ranging over Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Small purple-blue, pea-like flowers spiral around a tall stock with palmately divided leaves. A member of the Pea family (Fabaceae), Desert Lupine seeds are sown in the fall for a spring bloom and benefit from an overnight soak to aid germination. Rake in seeds and water regularly. Other desert-dwelling native lupines include Arroyo Lupine, Lupinus succulentus of California; Arizona Lupine, Lupinus arizonicus; and Coulter’s/Mojave Lupine, Lupinus sparsiflorus. For more information, see also: http://www.desertmuseumdigitallibrary.org/
|Tidy Tips, California
Tidy Tips, Layia platyglossa, are a native wildflower of arid regions of California with some occurrences in Nevada, Utah and Arizona. A member of the Asteraceae or sunflower family, Tidy Tips are mid-spring to summer flowering annual yellow daisies with white-tipped flowers almost 2 inches across. They can be grown in zones 3-10, but do best in western states. Seeds germinate in about six days and prefer poor, but well-drained soils. For more information see also: http://www.wildflowerinformation.org
Trailing Arbutus, Minnesota
Trailing Arbutus, Epigaea repens is a trailing evergreen shrub. It is a member of the Ericaceae, or heather, family. Found in 29 eastern United States and Canada, from Florida to Manitoba, it prefers rocky, acidic soil and woodland habitats. It is on the Endangered list in Florida, rated as “Exploitably Vulnerable“ in New York and on the Watch List of threatened species in Indiana and a Regional Forester Sensitive Species plant in the Hoosier national Forest due to its slow rate of recovery after disturbance & collection. Pink-white flowers bloom in early spring to April. Transplant only from reputable nurseries, Trailing Arbutus requires mycorrhizal association to grow.
Prairie Phlox, East Texas
Prairie Phlox, also known as Downy Phlox, Phlox pilosa, from the Polemoniaceae (Jacob’s-ladder) family is a native perennial featuring clusters of pink to lavender flowers. It ranges from Texas to Manitoba, New York to Florida. It is listed as endangered in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Blooming March-May, Prairie Phlox attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It prefers dry, well-drained soils and from sun to part shade. Propagate Prairie Phlox by stem cuttings ( spring), root cuttings (fall) or by seed (save the seed by tying a bag around fruits). For more information see, http://www.wildflower.org/
Thanks to all who entered & please look for more polls on our Facebook page!
by Eileen Kane
Maricopa County Arizona Extension Master Gardener