In June 2012 I had an article on “Nebraska Wildflowers In My Yard” using the 1972 “Wildflowers of Nebraska” as a reference. (1) In 1990 John Farrar, with the cooperation of the NebraskaLand Magazine, printed another book on “Nebraska Wildflowers” (2) that divided the plants by flower color.  All the flowers in the book are printed in color along with their history. So today I will bring you another group of flowers that does well in my yard.

          The tallest one is the “Maximilian Sunflower”. On June 12, 2012, it was over 6 feet tall and about 3 feet wide and this is only its second year.  Last fall it was completely covered with yellow blooms, each 2 to 3 inches across.  It spreads by root rhizomes.  Farrar says it is named after Prince Maximilian who explored North from South American in 1800. The plant needs no attention at all to make a background.

          One of my early spring favorites is the “Bloodroot” (Sanguinaria canadensis). Sanguinaria is Latin for blood. Never very tall 6-12 inches), each leaf coming separately from the ground with the flower rolled up inside.  Leaves are unusually shaped, almost round, with deep rounded cuts in a slowly widening clump. In 8 years it has never strayed very far. The white, small, single, one inch flowers are waxy looking to me.

          If you pull up a plant to see the roots it will bleed a red (blood) sticky juice that Indians used for a red dye.  The plants will go dormant if they dry out and do it naturally a few weeks after blooming.

          Around the edges of my grey garden on the “hell strip” I have some “Pussy Toes” (Antennaria sp). As with many grey plants they are densely hairy but under 2 inches tall with the blooms about 6 inches tall. I usually cut them off as the plant spreads by roots.  Plants are either male or female and if you have a colony it may be all of one sex.

          “Solomons Seal” is a taller plant, up to 4 feet, preferring shade. In a good location it can spread fairly fast. An interesting thing is that it produces its blooms hanging down in clusters under the leaves. I have a clump under a “Pine Tree” and a variegated one under a “Redbud Tree”.  The variegated one (work of plant breeders) is more popular than the original with its white stripes, and comes up as a pink knob. This is a complete plant and can be easily moved. As usual it was considered a medicinal plant by the Native Americans. John Farrar says they believed spreading it on your floor would keep spiders and snakes out.

          Another of my favorite wild flowers is the “Wind Flower” or “Meadow Anemone”. It is found in the wild over a great deal of Eastern Nebraska, preferring the larger amount of rainfall to that of Western Nebraska. Anemone canadensis blooms a good part or the year with dainty white blossoms about 1 to 1 1/2 inches across.   In my yard it requires a sharp hoe as it spreads rapidly by rhizomes.

          The “Wild Petunia” (Ruella humilis) that I mentioned for dry soils, found especially in Eastern Nebraska is trying to take over my yard at the edges of the walks and driveway. It is short (12 to 18 inches) and now as I write this on June 17th, it is completely covered with “Petunia” sized lavender flowers that last only a day, but buds appear for weeks. One summer George gave me a Water Ruella of the same color. I kept it alive only that summer so I hope to find another.

          If you like Asters, especially tall ones, the “New England Aster” will grow 4 to 5 feet tall in a good summer.  Usually they bloom in August and September but I expect this summer the blooms will be much earlier. However, to keep them from getting 5 feet tall each summer before July 4th I cut them back by at least one half. They will immediately send out branches and cover themselves with blue or red blooms.  The blues are always more vigorous for me. John Farrar says they are “the Great Plains largest flowered and showiest native Aster”. They do their best for me in the hell strips along the curb.


(1) “Nebraska Wildflowers” by Robert C. Lommasson Ph.D. and published by the University of Nebraska Press on November 1, 1972.

2) “Field Guide to Wildflowers of Nebraska and the Great Plains” by John Farrar. NebraskaLand Magazine published by the Nebraska Game and Parks
Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska. Copyright 1990

Copyright 2012





          Farmers are having mandatory water restrictions in some Nebraska counties. Lincoln has voluntary water restrictions. Wise watering will save lots of water and keep your water bill as low as possible without starving your flowers and lawn.

          In searching the internet I ran across the following quote from a University of Nebraska publication:


“Weather adjustments to an automatic irrigation system can conserve      A LOT of water. A system applying 1 inch of water to an average size lawn (approximately 5,000 square feet) that has already received sufficient rain (or water from your system), wastes over 3,000 gallons of water-a year’s supply of drinking water for 17 people.” (“Make Every Drop Count On Your Yard” a publication by University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Available at “” In the search box type in “Make Every Drop Count In YourLandscape” Then click on “Make Every Drop Count In Your Yard”.


Also check out the following NebGuides at “”.      

Type the name or number in the search box on the left.

          “Perennial Flowers for Water-wise Gardeners” (G1214)

          “Mulches for the Home Landscape” (G1257

          “Landscape Sustainability” (G1405)

Copyright 2012