Three types of Wildflowers
To understand how wildflowers grow and reproduce, it’s important to know
which type of plant is being discussed. These plant types, of course,
apply not only to wildflowers, but to all the thousands of hybrids that
have been “made” from them as garden flowers we all enjoy. Remember, every
flower is descended from a wildflower (or more than one) that is native
somewhere on earth

Annual wildflowers are the ones which grow quickly from seed, bloom
usually for a long period (about two months, on average), and then die
with the first hard frost. This means annual wildflowers live only one
growing season. They are propagated by dropping their seeds as their
flowers fade. This tells you that if you know of an annual that “came
back” for a second year after a winter, it simply re-grew the second year
from seed it produced the year before. This is called “self-sowing, and
usually happens only when annual seed falls on bare ground. Most wild
annuals are native to open spaces, rather than areas that are, or were
originally, wooded. Popular wild annuals ls are the European red poppy and
North America’s plains coreopsis.

Perennial wildflowers are the ones that “come back” each year from the
same roots, forming larger and larger clumps with more and more flowers as
they age. From seed, they germinate more slowly than most annuals, and
make minor above-ground growth during their first growing season. Bloom
usually begins their second growing season, and a perennial’s season of
bloom is usually much shorter than that of an annual. (The average
perennial blooms for about two weeks.) Examples of perennials are common
daisies, purple coneflower, St. Johnswort, and the goldenrods. Some
perennials live to return year after year for decades or even centuries.
Others are what botanists call “short-lived”, which usually means the
plant persists for less than five years.

The third and smallest group of wildflowers are the biennials. These
plants have a two-year life-cycle. Like perennials, they normally do not
bloom their first year, but bloom and seed profusely– for a comparatively
long period– their second. Common examples of biennials are our common
roadside weed, Queen Anne’s lace, and one of North America’s most popular
native flowers, the black-eyed Susan.

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