Wednesday, January 20, 2010
There aren’t many of these out there that I know of, so this is a short list.
Helianthus annuus, Annual Sunflower, had its origins in western North America but was spread across the continent by Native Americans on account of its food value. There are many highly cultivated forms available. (These are sensitive to root disturbance, but are easy from seed.)
Hibiscus moscheutos, Wild Cotton, can grow as a perennial shrub, but is also reported to grow as an annual. This is most commonly available as a cultivar or a hybrid form.
Rudbeckia hirta, Black-eyed Susan, is an annual or biennial (it dies after a season of blooming). Many fancy cultivars are available.
This list contains North American native annuals and biennials that have a good possibility of returning by self-seeding and are available as plants in retail nurseries.
Cosmos bipinnatus, Garden Cosmos, had it origins in Arizona and throughout Mexico. There are a huge number of cultivars of this plant. I have seen the single-blooming forms returning from cracks in sidewalks around here (Eastern Massachusetts).
Gaillardia pulchella, Annual Blanket Flower, is another Southwestern native. In the nursery trade there are many cultivars of G. pulchella and its hybrid, G. x grandiflora (G. pulchella + C. aristata, the perennial blanket flower). I got some seed for the straight species from the Wildflower Center in Austin, TX for 2010.
Gaura lindheimeri, Lindheimer’s Beeblossum, is a short-lived perennial in the Northeast US. This plant may be too freely reseeding for many gardeners. It is a Texas-Louisiana native. Several cultivars are available in shades of pink to white.
Melampodium paludosum (actually M. divaricatum), Medallion Flower, is originally from Mexico. There are several cultivars in production. I tried this last year and was not too impressed. A report from the Missouri Botanical Garden indicates that this plant will self-seed in their climate.
Salvia farinacea, Mealycup Sage, is a perennial in its native range around Texas, but treated as a bedding annual in the north. I have had this return from seed in my garden. There are several cultivars sold ranging from near-white to deep blue.
I could include the zinnias from the Southwest US and Mexico, but many of these have undergone extensive breeding. I might consider the ‘Old Mexico’ cultivar of Mexican Zinnia (Z. haagaeana), as it is sometimes listed as an ‘Heirloom’ variety.
I would like to hear for any of you if you know of other natives in the nursery trade, as well as what is available in other regions of the country.