STATE FLOWERS THAT WILL GROW IN NEBRASKA
BY GLADYS JEURINK
I recently came
across a list of all the state flowers, wild flowers, and floral
emblems. It is interesting to note that there is variation among the
states in the way they have officially designated flowers to represent
them. Some states designate an official state flower.
Some states designate an official state floral emblem. Some
states have also designated wildflowers and one state has designated an
official cultivated flower. A few states have a state shrub. Then I got
to wondering, which ones will grow in Nebraska. This is the result.
the first state to declare its state flower in 1893. The MISTLETOE
(Phoradendron leucarpum) was
called a state floral emblem. In
2004, Oklahoma was also the last state to designate an official state
flower when it made the OKLAHOMA
ROSE their official flower. In between they named the Indian
pulekella) as the state wild flower. INDIAN
BLANKET grows well in Nebraska as a wild flower along with several
cultivated species. They are short, bright colored mainly in yellow,
red, and orange. Gaillardia
is a short lived perennial but produces seeds.
I have “Goblin”, oranges, and lemons on the parkway only
about 18 inches high but almost 2 feet wide.
was about as late as Oklahoma. Their state flower has been the yellow JESSAMINE
since 1924. (Sometimes it is spelled JASMINE
and is not hardy here.) In 2003 they designated the GOLDENROD
(Solidago) as their official wild flower. Goldenrods of all
shapes and sizes like it in Nebraska. The variety Solidago gigantea is our state flower. Most have coarse leaves and
tend to take over any territory. They do well in poor soil that is well
drained. Dr. Bessey from
the University of Nebraska asked the legislature to adopt the giant
goldenrod, which can grow as tall as six feet. They bloom here in August
and September and do not
cause hay fever. (Ragweed is the villain and blooms at the same time.) I
have a dwarf one that only grows 18 inches high.
The hybrids are not as invasive as our wild flowers. GOLDENROD
is also the state flower of Kentucky.
A number of
states have chosen tree blossoms for their state flower.
Arkansas and Michigan chose the APPLE
BLOSSOM, (Pyrus coronaria),
Delaware the PEACH (Prunus persica), Florida the ORANGE
(Citrus sinensis), Missouri
and North Carolina and Virginia the DOGWOOD
(Cornus florida). All of
these can be grown in Nebraska but take care if you choose an apple or a
Hawthorne that you choose a disease resistant variety. There are several
NebGuides you can get from your County Extension office listing disease
One state lists a state flower
that is not a flower at all. Maine has designated the WHITE
PINE cone and tassel (Pinus
strobus, Linnaeus) as its state flower. Botanically, these are not
considered flowers since gymnosperms do not have true flowers. The
reproductive structures of pines are known as strobili. You could
accurately say that Maine is the only state to have an official state
Pennsylvania have a shrub, the MOUNTAIN
LAUREL (Kalmia latifolia) that I have tried to grow several times but with
no success. It needs moist, acidic soil, and partial shade. Each year it
always grew smaller instead of larger. Idaho has a shrub, the MOCK ORANGE (Philadelphis
lewisii), and Georgia the AZALEA.
Alabama named the Camellia
as its state flower in 1959 and added OAK
LEAF HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea
quercifolia) as state wild flower in 1999. There are many Oak Leafs
in Lincoln. They prefer acid soil with shade or partial shade.
If in the sun they need protection from wind.
They like humus in their soil, and damp but not wet feet.
Tennessee has a
state wild flower, the PASSION FLOWER, as well as a state cultivated flower, the IRIS
(Iris germanica), so you can easily have their flowers. Louisiana has
the Louisiana IRIS as their wild flower with the MAGNOLIA
as their flower. Mississippi also claims the MAGNOLIA.
Alaska has the wild native FORGET
ME NOT (Myosotis alpestris)
as both the state flower and the state emblem. Myosotis
alpestris is a short lived clumping perennial 8 inches by 6 inches
that seeds easily. It is
listed as zones 4-8. I have a clump that does well as long as it is cool
but slowly fades in the heat.
Two of the ones
that will not do well here without a greenhouse are Arizona’s GIANT
SAGUARO CACTUS (Carnegiea
gigantea) and Hawaii’s native yellow HIBISCUS
(Hibiscus brackenridgei) as
well as Georgia’s CHEROKEE ROSE
(zone 7-9). New York claims the ROSE,
North Dakota and Iowa the WILD
PRAIRIE ROSE, both of which grow in Nebraska.
The blue and
white COLUMBINE of Colorado (Aquilegia
caerules) is one of my favorites so I try to keep them in the yard
but it doesn’t compete well with the CANADIAN
COLUMBINE. Since I have
several colors in a patch, the other colors, especially the yellow,
seems to predominate as they cross pollinate easily.
The plants are short lived perennials that prefer light shade and
damp soil. They are
commonly plagued with leaf borers which do not harm them a great deal.
Every spring I need to thin the patch out so it doesn’t smother itself
I have had the CALIFORNIA
californica) several times from seed, but it has never reproduced
itself. This year I put out seeds of SHIRLEY
POPPY (Papaver rhoes). It
is also called corn, field, or Flanders poppy. It is about 2 feet tall
withy yellow, pink, white, orange and red dainty flowers about 2 inches
across. There are many seed pods I am cutting off and dropping to hope
for a new crop next spring. They are in the parkway as they like the hot
All of us know
that the SUNFLOWER (Helianthus annrums)
is the state flower of Kansas and is a native wild flower. It is
considered a weed by some and can grow 15 feel tall and 24 inches
across. From this plant many new varieties have been developed. There
are SUNFLOWERS from 6 inches high to the great tall ones.
There are whites, reds, and yellows. Some farms grow nothing but
sunflowers and they have become a favorite snack for people, squirrels,
information go to Google.com and type in “State Flower”. You will
get many web sites. Check out the web site of the United States National
Arboretum which lists official state trees as well as flowers. (www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/statetreeflower.html)
It gives the state, the name of the tree or flower, the Latin name, and
the year of Legislation.