Hardy Native Plants

By Chris Edmunds

There are plenty of low-maintenance native plants to take the pressure off of keeping your garden.
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Our busy schedules and active lifestyles mean that many of us just don’t have the time we used to. When we finally get a moment to ourselves, getting on our hands and knees to labor into our gardens is the last thing on our minds. Luckily, there are plenty of low-maintenance native plants to take the pressure off of maintaining your garden. These plants already know what they’re doing and will need barely any help to thrive in your garden, without making too many sacrifices on color and variety.  

Why Go Native?

With so many new hybrids bragging about their hardiness, is there really a benefit to planting with native plants? Of course there is! Early varieties of popular annuals used to be so delicate that many struggled to survive here. While new varieties may have proven extra strength and sturdiness so that they are an option for Midwest gardens, they don’t have the thousand-year track record that natives do. New hybrids might have finally made the cut to grow here, but native plants have been designed for our climate and conditions from the beginning.

These plants have been growing here as hard as rocks without human help for longer than we’ve known them. Birds, bees, and butterflies love these local favorites, and they don’t mind the heat or a little drought. Give your native plants full sun and the occasional watering and these plants will grow fast and furious for years to come.

Here are some of our top choices for beautiful but low-maintenance native gardening:


PurpleConeflower.jpgConeflowers have quirky, captivating blooms that will bring more than just beauty to your garden. Also commonly known as Echinacea, these flowers have large seed heads that are a favorite of our local pollinators, while their stunning color makes them a favorite for us, as well. In our garden centers, we love the orangy-red of Hot Papaya, Purple Magnus and PowWow Wild Berry, and the colorful yellows, oranges, reds, purples, pinks, creams and whites of recent All-America Selections® winner, Cheyenne Spirit.

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans, or ‘Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, have been adored by gardeners for many years. These beautiful flowers are a classic for good reason - their lively yellow petals surround a deep black center, giving them a striking appearance that is hard to match. Black-Eyed Susans are a powerhouse perennial will only need occasional deadheading to keep them blooming all summer long.


Milkweed.jpgMilkweed is closely associated with Monarch butterflies. Asclepias tuberosa, also known as Butterfly Weed or Indian Paintbrush (in case you are curious, yes it has a shared nickname with the alpine native which is a totally different species), and has delicious nectar that is one of the main natural food sources for Monarchs. The tiny, orange flower clusters aren’t just for the butterflies, though. They are loved by most beneficial bugs, including ladybugs and bees, as well! Not just heat and drought tolerant, this plant is also deer and rabbit tolerant. With milkweed, you can be sure your garden is safe from big and small pests alike, while attracting the helpful and beautiful pollinators your garden needs.


Yarrow is another sun-loving, native perennial that attracts butterflies while deterring deer and big rodents. Not just heat and drought tolerant, these flower clusters actually prefer a little neglect, hating wet soil. They’re an ultimate low-maintenance plant that anyone can enjoy, with a color option for every garden. Our favorites include the New Vintage Red, New Vintage Rose, Little Moonshine, and Apricot Delight.


With little seeds that look very similar to ticks, this pretty perennial also goes by the less appealing name “Tickseed.” The beautiful, bright yellow flowers are hardy plants (depending on the cultivar) that aren’t picky about their soil or their watering habits. Two “old-reliables” are ‘Moonbeam’ (a threadleaf cultivar with primrose-yellow, profuse, all-summer flowering) and ‘Early Sunrise’, a double-petalled rich gold bloomer. Newer cultivars such as ‘Sunny Day’, and two ‘Leading Lady’ varieties: Lauren and Sophia, have really impressed us. Named for classic actresses, the ‘Leading Ladies’ are drop-dead gorgeous, bred to flower earlier and longer while being resistant to mildew and both cold and heat. We currently carry and adore Lauren, named after Lauren Bacall, and Sophia, named after Sophia Loren. Both have lemon-yellow large flowers; Lauren has large single flowers, while Sophia has tubular petals. ‘Sunny Day’ has richer, deeper golden yellow color which lights up any area of your garden!

Blanket Flowers

blanket flower.jpgBlanket Flowers, or Gaillardias, are a gorgeous native variety to add romance to your garden. Not only low-maintenance, these flowers come in truly stunning shades that will take your breath away. There’s no sacrificing beauty for easy care and function with these stunners. For a sultry sunset feel, try the Arizona Sun or the Mesa Bright Bicolor. For bold statement-makers, try the Mesa Red or the Mesa Yellow. For a beautifully soft color you don’t see every day, try the peachy gold of Mesa Peach. These often re-seed, but we have not found them to reliably come back from the root, so watch for new plantlets the following season. Their summer-long season of bloom and decorative seed-pods make them well worth planting.

Having a strong, hardy garden doesn’t have to mean more time spent working, and less spent enjoying. While many people still find themselves attracted to the classic look of vibrant annuals, anyone can garden smarter, not harder, by picking stunning varieties of native plants. By planting these native plants you’ll have a beautiful and colorful workhorse of a garden, that works hard without the extra effort from you.

To see these and other amazing native plants, visit any of our Kaw Valley garden centers today!





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