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How to plant and grow a thriving wildflower garden

If you have a bare patch in your yard that needs some color and life — and bees and butterflies to boot —  you may want to consider planting a wildflower garden. Wildflowers come in a range of colors and sizes, and add textural and visual appeal to any green space.

For those who don’t consider themselves to be expert gardeners, wildflowers can be a low-maintenance alternative to other flower varieties. However, while they are easier to care for than other flowers, they do require some legwork to get up and running.

Before you start your new garden, here’s what you need to know about wildflowers and how to plant and care for them.

What Are Wildflowers?

As the name suggests, wildflowers are flowers that can be found naturally in the wild. Unlike commercial flowers, wildflowers have not been cultivated or bred to have certain characteristics. In fact, all commercial flower varieties originate from wildflowers, and only after years of breeding and genetic manipulation have become what we cultivate in home gardens today.

Wildflowers can be found in woodlands, prairies and wetlands, and some states have even designated special refuges and reserves where you can observe them. They tend to be native species, ideally suited for the ecosystems where they live, and have been around as long as 100 million years, according to some fossil records.

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MORE: 5 ways to attract dragonflies to your yard to help eliminate mosquitoes

In the U.S., the best time to see wildflowers can vary widely from state to state. In climates that are warmer year-round, you may find them blooming all year. In those that have cooler winters, wildflowers will typically surface in the springtime — and even then bloom time may still vary depending on the variety.

Because by definition wildflowers

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6 Easy-to-Grow Native Wisconsin Plants to Add to Your Garden – UpNorthNews

No green thumb required for these beautiful, pollinator-friendly plants! 

New England Aster

New England Aster flowers (photo via Wild Seet Project).

Despite its name, the New England aster is actually native to Wisconsin, as well as the east coast. This flower has a stout and leafy base that looks like a purple daisy when it blooms in the late summer. They’re happiest in moist soil that’s in a sunny spot. 

Tip: If you don’t think the New England aster will blend in with the rest of your garden, try one of the other dozen breeds of aster that grow naturally in Wisconsin!   

Eastern Red Columbine

Eastern Red Columbine flower (photo via Wikipedia).

The Eastern Red Columbine’s unique shape and eye-catching red color is sure to brighten up your garden and attract hummingbirds, too! These hanging red flowers bloom in May and June and are ranked by the Wisconsin DNR as an easy plant for beginners.

Tip: They do best in rich, moist soil, but can survive just fine in drier ground if you’re fine with duller colors.

Northern Maidenhair Fern

Northern Maindenhair Fern (photo via The Spruce).

Although ferns don’t have the most exciting color palette or blossoms, the northern maidenhair is a great way to add some texture and depth to your garden. Ferns are very forgiving plants for beginners, and do best in moist soil without direct sunlight. You can tell a maidenhair apart from other ferns by their fan-shaped leaf clusters and delicate appearance. 

Tip: Fertilize your fern once a month, water it at least every other day, and you’re all set!

Prairie Phlox

Prairie-Downy Phlox (photo via Keystone Wildflowers).

If you want to add a splash of color to your garden, the eye-catching magenta prairie phlox (also commonly known as the downy phlox) adapts easily to

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