How Many State Flowers Grow in Alamosa? Part 2

2017 January 11

This column continues the discussion of state flowers that grow in Alamosa gardens.

Tennessee named the Iris (Iris) its state cultivated flower. While the legislature did not specify a color or particular species, the Purple Iris is widely accepted as the Tennessee state cultivated flower. Why does Tennessee have the special distinction of ‘cultivated’ in the title? Because the state already had a state flower, the native Passion Flower! Iris do very well in Alamosa and the colors range from white, to pastels, to bright hues, and to almost black.  They need dividing every few years, and like Peonies, don’t do well if planted too deep.

A favorite golden flower I have in my garden is Maryland’s Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta – hirta refers to the short bristles that cover the leaves and stems). I was a bit confused as I did some research on this flower.  I’ve always made a distinction between the more weedy looking Black-eyed Susan plants you see along highways in Colorado and the more compact plants with larger blossoms often splashed with red and orange that I have along my sidewalk.

I used to call the nicer ones Gloriosa Daisies, but several web sites I checked didn’t make a distinction. However, the Missouri Botanical Garden website says, “the larger-flowered cultivars that come in shades of red, yellow, bronze, orange, and bicolors” are more commonly called Gloriosa Daisy.

They make a great cut flower and the blossoms tend to last well. Mine bloom from June until September. These daisies are perennials and freely reseed so I tend to keep them confined to specific areas.

Kansas’ sunflower (Helianthus annuus) are not uncommon in Colorado and the rest of the nation. In fact, it’s considered a secondary noxious weed in Iowa! Typically yellow and tall.  The natives have flower about 3-5 inches across.

Violets (Viola) also grow in most states and are the state flower for four states: Illinois, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. Sadly, the purple ones I’ve had in my yard aren’t very showy.  The purple flowers hide under leaves and produce a lot of seeds.  In the past few years sprouts have popped up all over the yard. With their distinctive heart-shaped leaves, they are not hard to identify and pull up if I don’t like where they are.

One flower that I just can’t seem to grow and others are very successful with is Coreopsis (Coreopsis), Mississippi’s state wild flower. It’s often called Tickseed and is a group of 35 species of flowering plants; 28 are native to North America. Coreopsis ranges in color from golden to pink. I have images of two species on the website; however, they’ve since died off.  I just can’t get the perennials to return!  If anyone has growing suggestions please email me at!

New York’s state flower is the Rose (Rosa) and North Dakota and Iowa selected the Wild Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana). Rose fossils up to 35 million years old have been discovered and rose cultivation goes back at least 5,000 years according to New York left the entire genus open proclaiming it includes Roses “in any color or combination of colors common to it.” It is the most highly cultivated flowers with more than 150 species and 20,000 hybrids in existence.

Various roses do well in Alamosa.  Some people are very deft at cultivating beautiful showy hybrids. I stick to the more easily grown climbing roses or native roses similar to the Wild Prairie Rose. Turns out it is native to Colorado and arkansana refers to the Arkansas River in our state! I have some wild rose bushes I got near Trout Creek Pass east of Buena Vista many years ago.  They grow in a dry part of my yard and look very similar to the Wild Prairie, but I identified mine at one time as Rosa woodsia.

For more information and photos of the flowers mentioned in this column, please visit and click on the Flower Lists tab. After appearing in the Valley Courier, all columns are posted at the website.

Community Seed Exchange: Mark your calendar for the January 28 swap at Adam State’s Nielsen Library from 1 – 3 p.m. “Share locally grown, non-hybrid seeds with your community.  Bring snacks and stories to share!” reports librarian Mary Walsh in an email announcing the event. This annual event is co-sponsored by VEGI (Valley Educational Gardens Initiative) and Seed to Seed Library at Nielsen Library. Registration is not necessary and if you have questions, please call Mary at (719) 587-7174.

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments."  Janet Kilburn Phillips