Wild Men on the North Fork

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The chart below lists flower varieties and flowering bushes and trees that do well here in Wyoming. I have tried to list them in descending order of popularity, so that those who are new to our fair state will get an idea of what is going on in the gardens.

Annual Flowers: are started from seed each Winter or Early Spring, and are set out as small plants when all danger of frost is gone. Here the most popular annuals for Wyoming.
Petunia is a genus of flowering plants from South America, and is related to tobacco, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; in the family Solanaceae. At the end of the season, or Fall, this variety is even more frost resistant than Marigold, and almost as resistant as Snapdragon to cold and frost. It is widely planted across the U.S. and seems particularly well suited to the high, dry, and cold Rocky Mountain Region. It comes in a wide variety of colors including red, blue, white, violet, pink. It also comes in multicolor and yellows and oranges, but the yellows and oranges are not as vibrant as they are in Marigold.
Marigold is the genus Tagetes. It is in the Sunflower family. It is native to North and South America and has been naturalized around the world. It is tough and resistant to cold and that makes it especially suited to the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. It has a strong odor which many harmful insects find unpleasant, but beneficial insects find attractive. It comes in a wide variety of shades from light yellow, brilliant yellow, to many oranges and to very deep reds. It is not available in blues. It has a wide variety of blossom types from daisy-like to composite.
Snapdragon is the genus Antirrhinum. Snapdragons are actually perennials, but are often sold as cold-season annual plants and do best in full or partial sun. They are available in a range of heights: dwarf (6-8 inches), medium (15-30 inches) and tall (30-48 inches). They do best with some relief from the wind. They will definitely winter over in Wyoming and will also seed out and you will get little Snapdragon plants next year from your initial planting.
Pansy/Viola or pansy violet is a large group of hybrid plants derived from the Viola species. So, technically they are Violas. Violas are wild flowers found across Europe and North America. In very wet highland spots across Wyoming wild Violas can be found. Pansies are sometimes called Monkeyflower because they appear to have a face in them. Pansies are very resistant to cold, very cold hardy. Like Snapdragons, they can winter over if planted somewhere where they are very well protected from the wind. They love to grow in the shade.
Hollyhock make up about 60 species in the genus Alcea in he mallow family Malvaceae. They are native to southwest and central Asia. They are biennial or short-lived perennial plants. The Mallow relatives are quite numerous in Wyoming mountains, particularly in wet areas near streams. Hollyhock can grow to 7 feet in Wyoming. In warmer climates they can grow over 12 feet tall. They will often seed out and produce baby plants in the Spring. The blossoms come in a wide variety of colors. White and black seem to dominate.
Geranium Geranium is a genus with over 400 species of flowering plants, that are also called cranesbills. It is found throughout the temperate regions of the world and mountains of the tropics. The species include annuals, biennials, and perennials. What you will find for sale at your local greenhouse will most likely be an annual. But some greenhouses will also have perennials for sale. The perennials look and grow much like their wild Wyoming cousins. Geraniums are very showy. They annuals usually come in white, pink, or red shades. The perennials will come in white, pink, or blue. They like water, but want well drained soil. They, and their wild cousins love to grow next to a rock or wall. They like the extra radiant heat at night. The perennial blossoms, both wild and domestic, will be simple blossoms with 5 petals. The annuals will be compound blossoms.
Perennial Flowers: are started from seed each Winter or Early Spring, and are set out as small plants when all danger of frost is gone. Perennials will winter over and bloom year after year. Many gardeners have perennial beds where 3 or 4 flowers (on a rotational basis) are always blooming throughout the summer. Here the most popular perennials for Wyoming.
Shasta Daisy is the genus Leucanthemum x superbum. Shasta Daisy originates in the Pacific Northwest in the Cascade Mountain Range, and particularly around Mt. Shasta. They were first introduced to American growers by Luther Burbank. There are a number of varieties, with a number of bloomtimes spreading from late Spring to past mid-Summer. They are universally white in color. They work well when planted with Rudbekia because Rudbekia is starting to bloom just as Shasta blossoms are failing.
Rudbeckia is one plant of the 23 different species of the Asteraceae family. These species are often called coneflowers or black eyed susans. All 23 species are native to North America. Nearest relatives of the 23 species are, not surprisingly, the Sunflowers. Blossoms are very showy, golden, and bloom from mid-Summer to frost. A mild Fall can allow the blossoms to last well into October. The plants are big, often growing 3 feet tall. They grow steadily throughout the Summer and usually make lots of children which show up next Spring. This perennial has to be managed, or it will take over the whole bed.
Tulip is a perennial bulb, in the genus Tulipa, which has many species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. So, it is related to the lilies. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The Dutch found the tulip early in their trading and took it home, where it became wildly popular resulting in the 'Tulip Mania' that peaked in 1637. Most tulips sold in the U.S. are of Dutch origin. Most tulips sold in the U.S. come from three different growing consortiums in the state of Michigan. There are several companies in each group and they cooperate with their marketing. Tulips are great flowers for Wyoming, far better than Dafodils, because they generally bloom later than Dafodils and thus don't get as damaged by late Spring snows. Tulips come in a wide range of colors, and multicolored blossoms. Tulips are mid-Spring bloomers. They need to have their bulbs dug up and moved every third year. They also benefit from special fertilizers that are designed just for them. They are best when planted in groups or showy 'masses'. Deer love to eat the blossoms. Plant the bulbs in the Fall before the soil freezes.
Dafodil is one plant of Narcissus, a genus of hardy spring-flowering bulbs in the Amaryllis family. It is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. Dafodil is the common English name for all varieties in this big family. Most every gardener in Wyoming has Dafodil planted. Dafodil comes up very early in the Spring. That's why we like it. But, really folks, it does not do very well here because of its earliness. A common joke in my circle of gardeners is a rule of thumb I have promoted: It's not really Spring yet until the Dafodils have been snowed on at least four times. One reason some folks go ahead and plant Dafodils amongst the Tulips is to deter deer. Deer hate the smell and tast of Dafodil. Plant the bulbs in the Fall before the soil freezes.
Flowering Shrubs and Trees: are very popular. They are very attractive, and with a little care, will last a lifetime. Here the most popular for Wyoming.
Rose is a perennial plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They typically a shrub, but can also be a trailing vine. The stems often have sharp prickles. The flowers are large, showy, and have a pleasant fragrance. The petals can be dried and used in teas. The seed pod, or hip, is a 'pome', and so the rose is a close relative of apple and pear. Blossom colors range from whites, pinks, reds, oranges, to yellow. Wild roses are native to North America and to Wyoming. These blossoms are simple five petal affairs. Roses are popular with deer early in the spring, particularly the new growth. They bloom starting in June. Some varieties will bloom all summer. Some varieties are not rated for any climate below Zone 5. Most of Wyoming is Zone 4.
Crab Apple Apples, or Malus are a genus of between 30 and 55 species of small deciduous trees or shrubs in the family Rosaceae. Wild Apples, or Crabs, are native to the Northern Hemisphere of the world including Asia, Europe, and North America. Some Crabs, like the Whitney Crab are, in fact, domesticated. Crabs are very resistant to disease, and so their root stocks often have other species grafted to them. In Casper there are nearly as many yards with a Crab or two as there are yards with Roses. Crabs are very popular because of their hardiness and their lovely blossoms in the Spring. Blossoms range from white, to pink, to red, to purple.
Lilac (Syringa) is a genus of 20 to 25 species. These are flowering woody bushes or small trees in the olive family (Oleaceae). They are native to to an area from Southeastern Europe to Eastern Asia. They are very popular in Wyoming. They can be very particular about where they are planted. I had one for 40 years in my back yard and it bloomed well maybe 10 times. In the very next yard there are three lilacs that bloom every single Spring. Those bushes are next to a fence and better protected from the wind. Lilacs can grow to be over 8 feet tall in Wyoming.
More flowers that will grow in Wyoming:
Portulaca - Moss Rose is an ANNUAL and is a Purslane. Another Purslane is a common weed in Wyoming gardens. The common weed in our gardens is edible. I do not know if Moss Rose is edible, so beware. Portulaca is very popular in Wyoming because it lends itself well to our dry, desert-like conditions in the summer.
Impatiens is an ANNUAL and is of the the family Balsaminaceae. There are many fellow species (850-1,000) in its genus, and they are widely distributed across North America. These are shade-loving flowers and too much sun will burn them, stunt their growth, and even kill them. So, if you have a very shady area that you want to live up with blossoms, consider Impatiens.
Lobelia is an ANNUAL and is a genus of flowering plants that are 300-400 species strong. These range from tropical climes to warm temperate (so how do these grow in Wyoming?), with a handful growing in cooler temperate regions. The common names for Lobelia make a long and entertaining list: barfweed, Indian tobacco, asthma weed, retchwort, heaveleaf, vomitwort, pukeweed, and fool's bane. Generally, these flowers are very small and have very intense blue colors. Lobelia grows low, and given fertilizer, grows rapidly. It will be covered all summer with blossoms. It is used in borders and in hanging baskets.
Alyssum is an ANNUAL and is a genus of about 100-170 species of flowering plants in the family Brassicaceae. So when you look at the blossom think Broccoli all dressed up. It is native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. The genus contains annuals and perennials. It is widely used in Wyoming as a border. Its shortness, like lobelia above, lends it to mixing with taller blossoms. It is also used in hanging baskets. Alyssum is also a PERENNIAL and can be purchased in Wyoming as a plant. This Alyssum blooms only in early Spring.
Yarrow is a PERENNIAL. The latin name is Achillea millefolium. Yarrow is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and North America. Yarrow has been known as an herbal treatment to staunch the flow of blood. It has a list of other names: old man's pepper, gordaldo, soldier's woundwort, devil's nettle, nosebleed plant, thousand-leaf, sanguinary, and milfoil. This one grows big and tall and deserves a place in your perennial bed, somewhere in the back due to its tallness, and in full sun. It does not like the shade.
Russian Sage is a PERENNIAL. It is a tall, spikey bush that can grow well over 3 feet. It is not a 'true sage' in that it is not in the same genus as the other Salvias which are also called 'sages'. Its home is Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet and Pakistan. Russian Sage has an intense fragrance. It was virtually unknown in the U.S. until the 1990s. It has white stems, silver-grey leaves. It blooms in late summer and into the fall. It is ideal for Wyoming climates, as it is cold hardy, drought tolerant, and tolerant of highly alkaline and/or salty soils. Grow this in full sun.
Columbine is a PERENNIAL, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It prefers to grow in partial shade. It grows wild in the mountain forests of Wyoming, particularly on north-facing shaded slopes and in full sun at or above tree line. It likes soil that is well drained. It does not seem to tolerate heavily alkaline soils. It is drought tolerant. It is rated down to zone 3. Columbine is the state flower of Colorado.

Larkspur/Delphinium is a PERENNIAL, and is a genus of about 300 species in the family Ranunculaceae. It is native to the whole Northern Hemisphere. The Larkspur is probably the most commonly found wild flower in Wyoming. If each of Wyoming's 23 counties were divied into 16 equal parts, Larkspur would be found growing in all 16 parcels of all 23 counties.

Domesticated Larkspur and Delphinium are both sold in garden centers across the state. The flowers grow from a center stalk. These stalks can be anywhere from 6 inches to 4 feet tall. The tallest Delphinium may need to be supported to withstand the ravages of wind.

Zinnia is an ANNUAL. Zinnia is a genus of 20 species of the family Asteraceae. They are native to and area from Southwest United States down into South America. The flowers are very showy and very popular. They are noted for their relatively long stems. If planted from seed directly in your garden, they will come on in August. They do seem to tolerate high temperatures and wind.
Peony is a PERENNIAL, which is the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae. They grow to form bushes from 2 feet to 4 feet tall. They are native to Asia, Southern Europe, and Western North America. If you plant this you will have to be careful to get them into an area sheltered from the wind. Also be aware that while a lot of Peony will grow in Wyoming, there are some that will not. Watch for the zone rating.
Lupine/Lupin is a PERENNIAL, and is is a genus of flowering plants in the Legume family (Fabaceae). There are over 260 species in the genus. There are both annual and perennial species. But the seeds or plants you will typically buy are for the PERENNIALS.

The plant strongly resembles other members of the pea family and will even form pods. The flowers erupt from a central spike, and because of the individual blossom shape, are also called Bluebonnet or Quaker bonnet. The Bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas. Wild Lupine grows widely in Wyoming, in every county. It is usually blue or white. Domesticated Lupine can be other colors. It prefers to grow in higher and cooler areas, but will grow in full sun if it is in higher elevations.

Iris is a PERENNIAL. It is a genus of nearly 300 species. The late Spring flowers are very showy and can grow up to 4 feet tall. The name comes from the Greek word for rainbow. Some blossoms will literally have every color in the rainbow contained in them, though the dominant color for Iris is blue. Iris is sold as a bulb. It also grows wild in Wyoming. Iris loves water and will grow in marshy conditions in the wild. The wild seeds can be havested late in the Summer and planted in your yard. The wild cousins are shorter, and smaller, but are quite beautiful. There are a few varieties that will not grow in Wyoming. Look for the zone rating.
Daylily is a PERENNIAL species. It is a true lily. The flowers will often last no more than 24 hours. But some last much longer. They are usually quite tough and hardy. Like all lillies, they love water. There is a vast variety of cultivars, over 60,000 registered types. They will bloom twice in the season, particulaly if their seed capsules are removed. They are agressive growers and will take over whole beds. Their roots will become bound quickly. So it is a good idea to agressively thin them every two to three years. There are a few varieties that will not grow in Wyoming. Look for the zone rating.
Clematis is a PERENNIAL vine. It is a genus of nearly 300 species. It is in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Often in a blue color, these plants can produce flowers in astonishing variety of shapes and colors. They love to grow up lamp posts, trellis, and walls. I once saw a plant that completely covered a shed, all four walls and the roof. Plant them on the North or East side of a wall. They love mild fertilizer. There are a few varieties that will not grow in Wyoming. Look for the zone rating.
Bleeding Heart is a PERENNIAL. It has multiple blossoms arranged on stems that fan out from the center of the plant. Each blossom is heart-shaped. The plant grows, not from a bulb, but from a rhizome. Blossoms are ususally red or white. These plants like the shade. There are a few varieties that will not grow in Wyoming. Look for the zone rating.
Lithodora is a PERENNIAL. is a genus of flowering plants in the family Boraginaceae. It is native to Southern Europe and and Mediterranean. They are very low growing shrubs. They love to grow between rocks, and hang down over a wall. Their brilliant blooms come in late Spring. In Greek, the name lithodora means 'stone gift'. These can be hard to find in your local garden center.
Celosia is usually sold as an ANNUAL in Wyoming. In warmer climates it is also sold as a PERENNIAL. It a is a small genus in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. They generally come from East Africa. They are very showy, and commonly grow from 5 to 10 inches tall in Wyoming, and much taller elsewhere.
Echinacea/Coneflower is a PERENNIAL. Echinacea species are are drought-tolerant perennial plants, that are sometimes used as an herb. The benefits of using Echinacea are very much in dispute, though many true believers swear by it. The plants can grow tall, anywhere from 18 inches to 48 inches (in protected full sun). They have hairy leaves, and overall, the plants are dramatic and beautiful. These blossoms are loved by butterflies.
Coreopsis is a PERENNIAL and an ANNUAL. It is a genus in the family Asteraceae. A common name for it is tickseed. They grow from 6 inches to as high as 36 inches in very warm climates. The petals have a deep sawtooth at the ends. The blossoms are usually yellow and cheery. They also come in orange, pink and yellow-orange-red.

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