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9 native flowers often mistaken for weeds

By: Networx Systems on Sept. 6, 2011, 2 p.m.
A field of Aster foliaceus near a small pond

Photo: brewbooks [CC by SA-2.0]/Flickr

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Wild beauties

To the untrained eye, many wild plants may look like weeds. These can vary from asters and goldenrods in Maine, to butterfly weed in Georgia. However, in the garden these same plants (mostly native perennials) are great performers that, with a minimum of care, will reward you for years to come.

There is a wealth of "weeds" (including improved selections) for every season that grow happily in the wild or in a cultivated landscape. Some are dainty and diminutive like the blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium species (it grows only 4 to 12 inches tall), and others are big and bold like giant Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum), which grows up to 9 feet tall with flower heads that are 1 foot long and 6 inches across.

If you decide to include some choice native perennials or grasses in your garden, make sure to purchase them from a nursery or mail order catalogue rather than digging them up from the wild. Local native plant societies usually list sources or offer plants for sale. They also have lists of exotic weeds that are considered invasive and should not be planted in your garden including kudzu and the species rose, Rosa multiflora.

Erica Glasener originally wrote this for It is reprinted with permission.