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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 03, 2013

From: Commerce Township, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Showy Low Growing Perennial for Michigan
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have been looking for a native perennial that would do well in full sun and moist to dry soil. It would have to be at most 2.5' tall and have showy pink, purple, or red flowers. Is there such a plant that will grow here in Michigan?

ANSWER:

There are plenty of great native perennials that will fit your requirements. The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: State – Michigan, Habit – herb, Duration – perennial, Light Requirement – full sun, Soil Moisture – dry and moist, Size Characteristics – 0-3 ft, and bloom colors – pink, purple, and red. This will give you a list of 54 potential plants.

Some of the possibilities from this list for you to consider include:
Anemone multifida (Pacific anemone)
Asclepias sullivantii (prairie milkweed)
Callirhoe involucrata (winecup)
Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)
Gentiana puberulenta (downy gentian)
Hedysarum alpinum (alpine sweetvetch)
Liatris cylindracea (Ontario blazing star)
Lupinus perennis (sundial lupine)
Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)
Phlox pilosa (downy phlox)
Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (smooth blue aster)

 

From the Image Gallery


Pacific anemone
Anemone multifida

Prairie milkweed
Asclepias sullivantii

Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

Downy gentian
Gentiana puberulenta

Alpine sweetvetch
Hedysarum alpinum

Ontario blazing star
Liatris cylindracea

Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Downy phlox
Phlox pilosa

Smooth blue aster
Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve

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