What’s Blooming at the Farm? – September 2022

Enjoy the last flush of flowers while they are still here!

Take inspiration from our prairie and gardens for early fall flowers to add to your native plant garden at home. It’s important to plant a variety of flowers with different bloom times so you’ll always have something in flower from spring through early fall. Your garden will look lovely, and pollinators will find a reliable source of pollen and nectar in your yard. The late summer and early fall flowers are especially important to migrating pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, that need extra nourishment to travel south for the winter.  

Check out what’s blooming now in the prairie and garden at the McDonald Farm in Naperville:

1. Obedient Plant – Physostegia virginiana

Obedient Plant is a showy plant with spikes of pinkish-purple, tubular flowers that are visited by bumblebees and other long-tonged bees.

Exposure: Full or partial sun

Soil Conditions: Moist, well-drained

Mature Height: 3-4 feet

Bloom Color: Pink, purple

Bloom Season: July-September

2. Tall Coreopsis — Coreopsis tripteris

Tall Coreopsis’s flowers have brown centers unlike other common coreopsis flowers that have light centers. The flowers sway gently in the breeze and attract a variety of bees, butterflies, and beetles.

Exposure: Full to partial sun

Soil Conditions: Dry to medium moisture soil

Mature Height: 3-8 feet

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: July-September

3. Tall boneset — Eupatorium altissimum

Tall boneset is a prairie plant with flat clusters of small white flowers. Its achene, or dry one-seeded fruit (like a sunflower seed in its shell), has a tuft of white hair that spreads it through the wind.

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Soil Conditions: Medium to dry

Mature Height: 2-6 feet

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Season: August-September

4. Big Bluestem — Andropogon gerardii

Big bluestem is a dominant species of the tallgrass prairie. It has a deep, fibrous root system, blue-green leaves, and finger-like arrays of flowering spikes at the tops of their tall stems. Big bluestem is the official state prairie grass of Illinois!

Exposure: Full sun

Soil Conditions: Moist to slightly dry

Mature Height: 3-8 feet

Bloom Color: Purple to yellowish flowering spikes

Bloom Season: September-October

5. Ironweed — Vernonia spp.

Ironweed has a tough, stout central stem. Its bright purple flowers attract butterflies, long-tonged bees, and skippers.

Exposure: Full to partial sun

Soil Conditions: Moist to average

Mature Height: 3-6 feet

Bloom Color: Purple

Bloom Season: July-Early September

6. Canada Goldenrod — Solidago canadensis

Canada Goldenrod has narrow leaves and branched clusters of tiny yellow flowers. It grows more aggressively than other species of goldenrod.

Exposure: Full to partial sun

Soil Conditions: Average moisture

Mature Height: 2-6 feet

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: August-October

7. Stiff Goldenrod — Oligoneuron rigidum

Still goldenrod has short, stiff hairs that gives their stems and leaves a rough feeling. Their leaves get smaller higher up the stem and are more rounded in appearance than the leaves of other goldenrod species. The flower clusters are also flatter than other common goldenrods.

Exposure: Full sun

Soil Conditions: Moist to slightly dry

Mature Height: 2-5 feet

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: August-October

8. Zigzag Goldenrod — Solidago flexicaulis

We’ve planted this goldenrod in our new Garden Refresh shade garden at the farm. It’s easy to tell from other goldenrods by its broad leaves, a stem that zigzags between its alternate leaves, and a preference for shade.

Exposure: Light to medium shade

Soil Conditions: Moist, well-drained soil

Mature Height: 2-3 feet

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: July-September

9. Blue Mistflower — Conoclinium coelestinum

Blue Mistflower has flat-topped clusters of pink, lavender, or blue flowerheads. They are most common in southern Illinois but are also found growing wild in the Chicago area, likely from plants that have escaped cultivation.

Exposure: Full sun to light shade

Soil Conditions: Moist

Mature Height: 1-3 feet

Bloom Color: Light blue-purple

Bloom Season: July-September

10. Rattlesnake Master — Eryngium yuccifolium

Rattlesnake Master is easy to spot by its branched clusters of prickly, white balls of flowers. Its leaves resemble yucca leaves, which is how it gets its species name yuccifoliium.

Exposure: Full sun

Soil Conditions: Dry

Mature Height: 2-5 feet

Bloom Color: White

Bloom Season: June-September

11. Prairie Dock — Silphium terebinthinaceum

Prairie Dock has large, rough, toothed leaves that are up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide. In the late summer it shoots up flower stalks up to 10 feet tall!

Exposure: Full sun

Soil Conditions: Moist, well-drained

Mature Height: 6-10 feet

Bloom Color: Yellow

Bloom Season: July-September

Join Conservation
@Home

Join Conservation@Home

Are any of these native flowers blooming in your garden? If so, your garden may be eligible for Conservation@Home certification!

Conservation@Home is a program for homeowners who are helping local nature by gardening with native plants, creating wildlife habitat, conserving water, and more. Homeowners who make these earth-friendly choices are certified as a Conservation@Home property and rewarded with a Conservation@Home sign to post in their yard. Learn more at https://www.theconservationfoundation.org/conservation-home/

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