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Prairie Star flowers
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The following column is from K-State Research and Extension’s horticulture department. The Prairie Star and Prairie Bloom programs highlight the best varieties of annual and perennial flowers for the state of Kansas. Along with this piece, I will be giving a lunch program about these programs as well as highlighting plants that will grow well in a drought situation. This will be at the Great Bend Recreation Center at noon on Wednesday, April 23, and there is no cost to attend. For more information, please call 620-793-1910 or e-mail me at
Angelonia made the cut. So did several cultivars of celosia, gaillardia, impatiens, lantana and petunias. Those flowers and more are on the new Kansas State University list of Prairie Star Annual Flowers.
The Prairie Star program was developed to identify annual flowers that grow best in the often-challenging prairie climate, said Alan Stevens, horticulture specialist with K-State Research and Extension. The list, available online, provides the flower name, cultivar, average height and width and whether it’s best suited for sun or shade.
“The plants are rated for vigor, meaning how fast and strong they grow, as well as overall visual impact,” said Stevens, who is the director of K-State’s Horticulture Research and Extension Center in Olathe. “High temperatures and drought conditions throughout much of Kansas particularly in 2012 were a real test.”
The flower trials are conducted in Olathe, Wichita, Hays and Colby. The sites fall into two U.S. Department of Agriculture cold hardiness zones (5 and 6) and two American Horticulture Society heat tolerance zones (7 and 8).
Some flowers grow best in landscape beds while others thrive in containers, so the list has three categories – plants for flower display, plants for foliage display and plants for containers, said Robin Dremsa, K-State research associate who works in the program.  
Many of the plants recommended on the list are available in garden centers and nurseries. However, because Prairie Star is not a commercial brand or product line, rather a rating system, gardeners should look for the specific variety on the list when shopping for their annual flowers. Plants may or may not be labeled Prairie Star.
For more information about the Prairie Star and Prairie Bloom programs, I will be giving a lunch program at the Great Bend Rec Center at noon on April 23rd. There is no cost to attend this program. Call 620-793-1910 with any questions you may have and I hope to see you there!
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at or calling 620-793-1910