Native wildflowers are those that were growing naturally in the landscape before the first settlers arrived from Europe. Ever since that time more and more plants have been introduced from around the world with very mixed results. Although many of the imports are now prized garden specimens, others are regarded as invasive weeds whose cultivation is actively discouraged eg. Japanese Knotweed.
The benefits of growing wildflowers are many, but here are just a few:
Since wildflowers grow naturally in the landscape they will thrive in similar soil types and situations in your garden.
Because they are growing in their natural habitat, wildflowers will require less water and fertilizer than other plants. Equally wildflowers have a natural resistance to pests and diseases and so will reduce the need for sprays and pesticides.
» Early pioneers would stuff their bedding with tickseed (Coreopsis tinctora) to help repel fleas, bedbugs and lice.
Many wildflowers are attractive to bees and butterflies and so will encourage these colorful insects to visit. Songbirds are also attracted by the seeds and berries produced by the plants.
A wildflower planting can produce a dense ground-cover that will encourage frogs and toads who will eat slugs but not harm your plants themselves.
On a more practical level, give up part of your lawn, sow wildflower seeds and save yourself the effort of mowing.
» More than 20% of wildflowers are in the Sunflower family.
Read about the folklore of wildflowers and discover a whole new world of traditional uses of plants as food, as tisanes, potpourris and more.
Many wildflowers have in the past been used as medicines and a number of modern drugs are based on plant extracts.
To bring this short list to a close, just consider that when all around you land is being developed for houses, shops, factories and roads, your area of wildflower planting can be a contribution to the preservation of the natural environment.
Hugh Harris-Evans is the owner of The Garden Supplies Advisor where you will find further articles, gardening tips and product reviews.