These native plants are easy to care for and can provide a full season of color.

Have you ever stopped in awe, looking at a neighbor’s garden as you drive by? As spring progresses and we are largely homebound due to COVID-19, here’s an update for creating a colorful flower garden that’s full of easy-care wildflowers that are native to Ohio.

Why Use Native Plants?

Natives are more tolerant of the region’s climate and tend to be more drought-resistant. Natives need less care. Natives draw local wildlife, including pollinating bees. Natives help control soil erosion.

Native Choices

Native wildflowers that thrive in Central Ohio include:

Large white trillium—Ohio's state wildflower produces big white blooms beginning in spring. If you want to plant it, buy the seeds. It’s illegal to pick the flowers or pull the plants where they grow in the wild. Columbine—This spring bloomer blossoms in a variety of colors with bell-shaped flowers that are hummingbird magnets. Marsh marigold—Another spring bloomer, this flower keeps its yellow buttercups until June. It’s a favorite of butterflies. Helen’s flower—Sometimes known by the less attractive name of sneezeweed, this is an aster that brings yellow and orange flowers to early fall. Wild geranium—Bringing a hint of pink to the garden, this flower draws migratory birds as well as butterflies. The flowers also repel mosquitoes, emitting a scent the bloodsuckers don't like. Wood poppy—This is another spring bloomer with flowers that resemble yellow poppies. Swamp milkweed—These blooms appear in mid- to late summer with clusters of pink flowers that appeal to butterflies and nectar-loving bees. Ox-eye sunflower—This plant looks like a sunflower but doesn’t get as tall. Songbirds can't resist the sunny yellow petals, which come to bloom in mid-summer. Goldenrod—If you want to keep color in your garden past summer, this plant sprouts its yellow flowers when others have tucked it in for the cool seasons. Turtlehead—Getting its name from white flowers that resemble a turtle poking its head out of the shell, this plant does well in partial shade. Pearly everlasting—This wildflower gives your garden white flowers in the summer and does need full sun. Canada tick trefoil—Drought resistant for summer’s hot temperatures, this flower adds splashes of pink and purple.

Caring for Wildflowers

When planning your garden, choose varieties that add color from spring through fall and arrange your plants with taller species in the back. Native wildflowers generally need little care, but extra watering is advisable for a few weeks when plants are new and during droughts. Of course, do some come caretaking by keeping beds free of weeds.

Once wildflowers have gone to seed as winter approaches, cut them back to about 6 inches to ensure they’ll come back healthy and beautiful in the next growing season. 

This column was written by Roger Fisk for Lawnstarter.com.