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Prairie Star
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At this time of year, many gardeners are thinking about what to plant in their gardens, and how they want their landscape to look this coming growing season. K-State Research and Extension can be a great resource for research on what will grow well in your yard. By going to the Horticulture website at, you can find a link for Recommended Plants for Kansas. These plants have been tested at research centers and placed on the list for their abilities to grow and thrive in the Kansas climate.
Today I am going to highlight two categories, the Prairie Star and Prairie Bloom collections. The Prairie Star collection is annual flowers that include varieties best adapted to the challenging prairie climate. The list contains flowers that have exhibited superior performances for two or more years in the K-State bedding plant research trials. Prairie Star flowers are the best of the best- flowers that grow and bloom abundantly with minimal care.
The Prairie Bloom collection consists of high performance perennial flowers of great vigor and spectacular bloom. These flower varieties have exhibited superior performances for at least 3-5 years in the K-State bedding plant research trials. They are the best of the best: flowers that grow and bloom like crazy with minimal care.
Flowering plant research is headquartered at the Horticulture Research and Extension Center in Olathe with other trial sites in Wichita, Hays, and Colby. These sites encompass two USDA cold hardiness zones (5,6) and two American Horticulture Society heat tolerance zones (7,8). All varieties on the list grow well across the state, east to west and north to south.
Plants are rated for vigor, defined as how fast and how strong they grow and how much substance they have. They are also rated on floriferousness, or total overall visual impact of the flower display. The number of flowers, size of flowers, and how they are borne on the plant are important. Flowers that hang down with backs showing are not as pretty as those presented in profile. Ideally, flowers should tilt up to greet onlookers.
Flowering plant varieties in research trials are submitted by or collected from plant breeders and distributors from around the world. All varieties on the list are available from retail garden centers or mail-order plant companies. However, the list contains many varieties - no greenhouse, garden center, or nursery is likely to carry them all. The Prairie Bloom list is not a commercial brand or product line. Gardeners should look for the specific variety on the list i.e. not the generic daisy but the specific daisy variety ‘Becky’, or “Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia” instead of a generic petunia. Plants at garden centers may or may not be labeled Prairie Bloom, so take the list to shop for specific varieties.
If you would like some help finding the different lists on the K-State website, please stop by the office, call or e-mail me. I would be happy to help you get the information you need for your landscape and gardens.
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