Do you know the different types of windflowers? There are over 70 varieties of these beautiful plants in North America alone, and research is still being done to learn about their differences.
These flowers come in a wide range of colors and shapes, depending on their location, the time of year, the soil type, light exposure and other environmental factors. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types that you are likely to see in your garden.
Types of windflowers
Zinnia haageana, often called tropical zinnias, are native to Mexico and Guatemala. They are summer flowering annuals with daisy-like flowers.
These plants grow up to two feet tall and like full sun exposure. They are drought tolerant and prefer well drained soil. Zinnias need regular watering during their growing season.
Some of the more colorful varieties are Zinnia elegans with white petals, Zinnia haageana Ivory Queen and Zinnias ‘Desert Fire’ which comes in shades of purple and red.Zinnia is a genus of about 140 species that vary in height from one to four feet according to type.
These flowers are a tropical favorite that grows 2-5 feet high. The flowers come in solid colors of white, pink and light yellow. If you like variety, try Zinnia ‘Scarlet King’ which has large deep red blooms, or ‘Snow cap’ with an almost pure white center surrounded by bright yellow petals.
Tithonia rotundifolia is the most common species of this family. Most common in Central and South America, it is also cultivated throughout tropical Africa and Asia for its orange or yellow flowers, which are large (up to 15 cm across), with six petals, flower heads 15–35 cm wide on long stalks, often growing upright outside of dense foliage.
Some cultivars have orange or scarlet flowers. The plant grows to 60 cm tall, with large, coarsely toothed leaves and bell-shaped flowers. It requires good drainage in full sun.
Tithonia rotundifolia is native to Central America from the Yucatán Peninsula east to Nicaragua and south through Belize, Venezuela and Bolivia to northern Argentina. It has been introduced to many other tropical regions for use as an ornamental plant and a medicinal herb, including the countries of Africa (e.g., Senegal) through Asia (e.g., India).
It is related to Tithonia rotundifolia but with different flower and seed morphology. It has white flowers and very large seeds, both of which are unusual in the family. The species was first described in 1812 by Carl Ludwig Willdenow, from a specimen sent to him from Brazil by the Baron de Langsdorff.
The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is native to North America and grown worldwide as a commercial crop for its seeds, which are pressed for oil. It prefers full sun exposure and thrives best in rich loamy soil that is slightly moist. Sunflowers need full sun exposure to grow properly, but they will continue to produce when the weather is less than ideal.
Sunflower seeds are harvested when the flowerhead stops growing and begins to dry. The seeds should be collected promptly from the dried flower head because as soon as it is dead, the flower will start to deteriorate and the petals will fall off.
Sunflowers have two primary growth habits: some grow as a single stem with a large number of small leaves, while others have multiple branches from the base producing clusters of flowers.
Sunflower plants usually grow between 2 to 8 feet tall but can sometimes reach up to 10 feet high. The mature sunflower head is 7.5 to 15 cm in diameter and contains hundreds of seeds that can be harvested for human or animal consumption.
Sunflowers are one of the few plants which, when grown in a proper environment, will flower every day, with each floret opening for only one day. The pattern that emerges as the petals open is often referred to as a heliotrope.
Anemone Blanda ‘Blue Star’
Anemone Blanda ‘Blue Star’ is a variety that grows up to 15 cm high and produces blue flowers from May to June. They are commonly grown in rock gardens and open areas on the edge of woodlands, meadows or in full sun.
They can grow as large as 30 cm across but will spread outwards to make a small cluster of flowers when grown in the open. Anemone Blanda ‘Blue Star’ is ideal for growing in chalky soils and prefers partial shade, but will tolerate full sun on occasion.
Anemone blanda was first described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 Species Plantarum, from wild-collected specimens found growing on the banks of Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee) in western Syria. The species name is the Latin adjective “blandus”, meaning “gentle, soft, pleasant”.
Anemone blanda has several common names including white windflower, false anemone and apple-blossom. It has been used as a medicinal herb since antiquity.
Gazania linearis is a native of South Africa. The flowers have wedge-shaped petals and vary in colors from bright yellow to reddish orange. If you grow gazania, seeds should be sown in the spring or fall where they will get full sun exposure and average garden conditions. They are drought tolerant and prefer sandy loam soil.
Gazania ‘Sunrise’ is a red variety of this plant that grows three to four feet tall, and gazania ‘Toto’ has white flowers with lavender streaks.
Gazania are also known as African daisies for good reason; there are over 350 species in the genus. The tubular flowers generally range from yellow to orange in color.
In summer, the gazania is a cheerful sight in many gardens. These perennial plants are not finicky about soil and prefer full sun. They will bloom all summer long if they have adequate water, fertilizer and protection against snails and other pests.
Anemone Sylvestris ‘Madonna’
Anemone sylvestris ‘Madonna’, or wood anemone, is native to various parts of Europe. It has been cultivated since the 16th century and is used for its medicinal properties as well as beautiful flowers.
The plant grows up to 20 cm tall with attractive dark green leaves that spread outwards from the center of the plant. It produces flowers that can be up to 3 cm across in colors ranging from pale blue to pink, with white centers. In the late spring and early summer, it blooms profusely and is a welcome addition to any garden.
Anemone sylvestris ‘Madonna’ is best grown in a rich well-drained soil that is kept slightly moist. It prefers full sun and is easy to start from seed indoors, or directly in the garden after all danger of frost has passed.
Anemone sylvestris ‘Madonna’ also shares the common names Windflower and Wood Anemone with other species within the Anemone genus. Anemone sylvestris ‘Madonna’ is easy to grow and will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators to your garden throughout the summer months.
Dictamnus albus (known as Gas Plant) is a member of the Rutaceae family, which is native to the Mediterranean region. It can grow up to 2m high and flowers at any time of year. The white flowers are in clusters that resemble umbrellas (which is where one of its common names comes from). They have a spicy, pungent smell that attracts pollinators to the garden.
Dictamnus albus is easy to grow and has few specific requirements. It prefers a sunny spot with well-drained soil, but will tolerate poorer soils in the right location. The leaves are toxic if eaten so it should not be planted where children or pets can get into it.
Dictamnus albus is a great plant for the wildlife garden as it provides nectar for bees and is a butterfly magnet. It works well with other wetland plants, but should not be planted near black locust trees due to their similar growth habits.
Gazania – Savanna Sunset mixed
Gazania – Savanna Sunset mixed is an amazing blend of the gorgeous color combinations found in gazanias native to Africa, with its yellow, bronze and burgundy colored blooms. This mix is a great addition to any garden looking for color and texture.
Gazania are summer annuals that prefer full sun, light shade will work too, but they do not like hot or humid locations. Each packet contains seven varieties of this popular flower which can reach up to 20 inches in height. The plants grow quickly from seed and start to bloom five to six weeks after planting. They can be interplanted with other annuals or perennials, but will require thinning in order to produce the best of each variety.
Gazania plants have a unique shape that consists of two rows of leaves on opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are shaped like large hearts and have striking, dark green stripes. The flowers are held high above the foliage on thick stems that display a beautiful bell or funnel shape.
Gazania is well known for attracting butterflies, moths and bees to gardens due to their bright colors and nectar filled blooms. They can be easily combined with other flowers or plants to create a stunning landscape that will attract and delight visitors all summer long.
Anemone Coronaria ‘Blue Poppy’
Anemone Coronaria ‘Blue Poppy’ is a stunning perennial that produces large, waxy flowers with deep blue petals. The blooms have yellow nectar guides on the inside to help attract bees and butterflies for pollination.
Perennial anemones are part of the Ranunculaceae family, which consists of buttercups, columbines, anemones and monkshoods. Anemone Coronaria ‘Blue Poppy’ prefers well-drained soil in a location with full sun. Gardeners should watch for plant disease when growing this or any other perennial anemone as they are prone to fungal diseases.
Anemone Coronaria ‘Blue Poppy’ is a showstopper in the garden and will attract pollinators from all around. These plants are not only beautiful, but very drought tolerant and hardy once established.
If planting this variety in a mixed bed with several perennials, make sure it is properly spaced so that it has room to grow. This plant can take up to five years before producing flowers and will only flower every other year after that.
Anemone Coronaria ‘Mount Everest’
Anemone Coronaria ‘Mount Everest’ prefers well-drained soil in a location with full sun. Gardeners should watch for plant disease when growing this or any other perennial anemone as they are prone to fungal diseases. The lovely flowers are a bright red with white tips and yellow centers. It is easily grown in Zone 5, 6 and 7.
Anemone Coronaria ‘Mount Everest’ produces deep green leaves that turn a very attractive maple-red during the fall months as well as attractive seeds that birds love to eat. Anemone Coronaria ‘Mount Everest’ is a dwarf, spreading plant that grows to about 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide.
The anemone flowers from mid-spring well into the summer months in zones 5 through 7 and rarely flowers in the fall at all making it ideal for those with northern gardens or who live in areas where late frosts are common.
Anemone Coronaria ‘Mount Everest’ prefers to be in full sun but will tolerate partial shade on a hot day. It may take up to two years for this plant to become fully established and bloom. Gardeners can help the plants along by deadheading, or pinching off spent flowers, or keeping the plant moist.
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ is an upright growing catmint that produces hot pink, double flowers from late spring to early summer. This variety has a strong scent and is loved by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Green or purple leaved plants are available, depending on the conditions in which it is grown.
It is very easy to grow from seed, as they come up quickly after sowing. In order for the seeds to germinate, some soil moisture is needed. Once the plants are well established in the garden, they usually don’t need to be divided or replanted.
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ likes to be in full sun but will tolerate partial shade on a hot day. It can take between one and two years for this plant to become well established and bloom. Gardeners can help the plants along by deadheading, or pinching off spent flowers, or keeping the plant moist.
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ is a low maintenance variety that is great for borders and mass plantings. The plants smell wonderful and bees love it. This variety of catmint is considered deer resistant.
-Can I cut the flowers for drying?
Yes, you can. Just use a sharp pair of gardening scissors to make clean cuts on the flower stems. Use them as soon as possible after cutting.
-How do I start growing Anemone Coronaria?
Dig a hole that is 6 to 8 inches deep, and spread your seeds over the surface of the soil. Cover with 1/4 inch of soil, gently firming it down with your hands.
-How do I propagate my plant?
You can divide your Anemone Coronaria. Dig up the plant in early spring and separate it into sections with at least 4 stems. Replant immediately in a new hole, planting at the same level as before.
-Can I grow Anemone Coronaria from cuttings?
Yes, you can. Cut a 6-inch piece of stem and place it in a small container with some moist potting soil or vermiculite, making sure the growing end is facing up. Cover the top of the container with a clear plastic bag to help it retain moisture before placing it in full sun on your windowsill.
The cutting should root in a few weeks, but be patient and wait until early summer before transplanting in the garden.