Let the prairie be your inspiration for a terrific summer display that stands up to the heat. Purple coneflower is a hardworking poster child, but many more excellent natives also bloom prolifically when the temperature soars.

By Marty Ross
June 09, 2015
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a variety of milkweed, has showy orange or orange-and-yellow flowers from midsummer into early fall. Monarch butterflies are guaranteed to find your garden if you grow it. Though butterflies love it, deer and rabbits leave butterfly weed alone.

If orange doesn't work in your garden design, look for the variety 'Hello Yellow', which offers golden-yellow flowers. Learn more about butterfly weed.



Coreopsis, also called tickseed, flourishes in full sun with little care. Deadhead the plants with hedge shears after their bright yellow flowers start to fade, and they'll be blooming again in no time.

There's a wealth of coreopsis varieties available. Newer varieties, such as 'Cosmic Eye' and 'Cosmic Evolution', offer long bloom seasons and bold color contrasts not seen in older varieties. Learn more about coreopsis.



Penstemon, also called beardtongue, blooms for weeks beginning in early summer, and holds up to heat and drought like a champ. Most penstemons are deer- and rabbit-resistant and need well-drained soil; they're often short-lived if planted in heavy clay.

A wealth of varieties is available. One favorite, 'Prairie Snow', offers pretty, large white blooms. 'Husker Red' is a white-flowering type that has purple foliage and won Perennial Plant of the Year award. Learn more about penstemons.

Blazing Star

Blazing Star Liatris

Blazing star, also called Kansas gayfeather (Liatris pycnostachya), has tall flower spikes tipped with striking purple blooms. They make beautiful cut flowers for summer bouquets.

All varieties of blazing star are butterfly magnets and tolerate extremes of summer heat and winter cold. They range from dwarf, 2-foot-tall varieties such as 'Floristan Violet' to majestic 5-foot selections. Learn more about blazing star.

Bee Balm


Bee balm (Monarda didyma) will also attract scores of butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. While it's not particularly drought-tolerant, bee balm does hold up to heat if it has sufficient moisture. Most bee balm varieties are deer- and rabbit-resistant.

Look for varieties that have good resistance to powdery mildew, a common diease that can cause the plant to lose its foliage in summer. 'Prairie Gypsy' is especially garden-worthy and has raspberry-pink flowers. Learn more about bee balm.


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