For Your Garden - February 2022

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

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downy phlox (Phlox pilosa)
Photo © John Hilty

Downy phlox is also known as prairie phlox. This perennial herb grows from slender roots. Its stems are hairy, upright and may reach two feet in height. The stems are sometimes branched. Leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stem. Each leaf is sessile and simple. Flowers are clustered at the stem tip. Each flower is attached to a thin, hairy stalk. Five, pink to light-purple petals are united at the bottom to form a tube. The fruit is an oblong capsule, up to one‐sixth inch in length. Downy phlox may be found statewide in Illinois. It grows in dry rocky woods and prairies. Flowers are produced from May through August. This species provides nectar for many long-tongued insect pollinators.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

 Illinois Range

 Native Plant Information

 
For more information about native Illinois plants, including where to purchase them and planting guides, view the following publications at our publications page. You can access more information on the Schoolyard Habitat Action Grant page, too.