Missouri Native Plants Soar In Popularity

By Abby Lapides-Elliott

The Missouri native gardening trend is gaining steam as gardeners are discovering its many benefits. Adapted to Missouri’s particular and unique climate, Missouri native plants easily create luscious gardens overflowing with blossoms. They are tolerant of rapid weather changes, cold snaps, heat waves, drought, and whatever else Mother Nature throws at us.

Missouri native prairie plants are excellent choices for sunny sites, tolerating poor soils and requiring little to no fertilization for their establishment and success. Missouri wildflowers, along with Missouri native grasses, can create gardens bursting with color and texture.Winecups’ delightful magenta blooms appear all summer. The crowd favorite Missouri Primrose gets rave reviews for its huge lemon yellow blossoms. To attract butterflies you’ll want to grow the Milkweeds. These host plants for Monarch butterflies entice many species of butterflies and moths. The brilliant orange Butterfly Milkweed thrives in sunny areas with average soil.

Woodland natives prefer moist, rich soils, along with shade. Missouri native ferns and many of our spring ephemerals (they will go dormant in the summer) colonize well. Nothing is more thrilling for a gardener than to see one of the first blossoms of spring, Virgina Bluebells. Easy to grow woodland plants include Mayapples, with umbrella-like large green leaves; Wild Sweet William, a sweetly scented early bloomer with soft blue flowers that are excellent cut; the cherished Missouri native Goat’s Beard with dramatic, 1” long white, feathery plumes in spring and ferny foliage that looks great all season; and Fairy Candles a handsome, bushy plant that creates anethereal show in the shady garden with its long bottle brush and fragrant white flowers that appear in mid to late summer.

A gardener of Missouri wildflowers can have a flourishing flower vase for months on end! The delightful Purple Coneflowers with large pink daisies, and the sunny yellow Black-Eyed Susans make long-lasting cut flowers. In fall, the butterfly favorite Aromatic Aster gets smothered with thousands of sky blue daisy-like blossoms rewarding the gardener with armloads of cut flowers. Even though Aromatic Asters grow nicely in average or even poor soil, they grow best with a shovelful or two of compost.

Missouri natives thrive in difficult and tough spots. For wet areas the Bluestars with their colorful flowers and foliage work well. Clusters of star-like, light blue flowers appear in late spring. Its narrow, willow-shaped, shiny 6” leaves, turn a brilliant yellow in fall. Prairie grasses and perennials with long tap roots hold up in dry, hot areas. Even though it looks fragile with its graceful, arching thin blades, Prairie Dropseed, a native grass that grows around 15” inches tall, has a tap root that will grow 4-5’ deep.

What’s old is new again, as Missouri native plants become many gardeners’ favorites. Most important of all, Missouri native plants help preserve our native fauna, often being hosts for food, or habitat sources for animals, insects, and larvae.

To see images and growing instructions for these plants and more natives visit sugarcreekgardens.com. For more information, and a free 45-minute consultation, please call 314-965-3070.