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Have you ever thought of including native wildflowers in your garden? Native woodland wildflowers are resistant to cold and drought and are rarely attacked by disease and insects. They are perennials that you can enjoy year after year without having to provide them with much care. They bloom early in the season before tree leaves have all unfurled to take advantage of light that will be unavailable to them later in the spring and summer.
blue phlox (Phlox divaricata)
Photo © 2008, Adele Hodde, IDNR
Office of Public Services. Photo rights available for purchase.
The lovely flowers of blue phlox (Phlox divaricata), also known as sweet William, start to grace the forest floor in mid-April and continue blooming through early June. Its stems grow upright or creeping and may be up to one and one-half feet long. The leaves are oblong or oval and arranged opposite each other on the stem. Each finely hairy leaf may be up to four inches long. The light purple to blue flowers develop in clusters at the stem tip. Each flower has five petals. A single flower may be one and one-fourth inches wide. The seeds are contained in a capsule. Blue phlox can be found statewide growing in rich open woods. This plant can add a beautiful splash of color to your spring shaded garden.
For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, the following publications are available through the IDNR order form at www.dnr.illinois.gov/publications.
Prairie Establishment and Landscaping
Landscaping for Wildlife