Which Plants Can I Grow in Kansas City?
A sprawling city rightly deserving of admiration for its wealth of culture, all manner of art is celebrated here in grand fashion. Whether it's the famous Jazz music or any number of works on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, visitors and residents alike will be awed by the sheer potential of human creativity. And let's not forget about the famous BBQ which is some of the best in the nation! Given its amiable climate, it's no wonder some of the food takes on such delicious flavors, as fresh ingredients are only one growing season away, and that's just regarding consumable plants. An even wider variety is available for aspiring gardeners in the Kansas City climate, with plants ranging from flowers to fruit. Here's why Kansas City is the perfect place for your growing aspirations:
Which Plants Grow Well in Kansas City?
Even with harsher winters and cold, Kansas City should stay on your radar as an optimal environment for growth. All it takes is a little preparation and due diligence to keep on top of weather variations to get through the colder months, and when spring and summer roll around, you'll enjoy one of the longest growing seasons in the nation! Evidence of these optimal growing conditions are readily available at any number of local parks or gardens. Start at any of them for inspiration and insight into how you can implement some of the plants and techniques that have already proven successful in the area. And if you need somewhere to start, give a few of these lovely plants a look:
Missouri Evening Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa): Also known as bigfruit or fluttermill, not only is this plant beautiful with its prominent yellow flowers, but it's also a native to the region. These flowers open in the evening and close during the day, but even then its denser foliage will add character to your garden. A favorite of pollinators, plant in full sun for best results!
Prairie Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata): Also a wildflower in the region, these small, yellow flowers are all widespread and are sure to thrive in your garden, capable of withstanding extreme heat, drought, harsher soils, and even pests! Plant in full sun, and be aware that they spread rapidly, so be ready to maintain them so that they don't choke out other plants!
English Ivy Gold Child (Hedera helix 'Variegata'): An excellent plant for patios, railings, lattices, or anywhere it can exercise its talent to climb. Get ready because it can go as high as 10 feet! With unique, star-shaped leaves that grow lush green and are ringed in white, this plant has plenty of character to offer your garden or wherever you plant it. Give it lots of morning sunlight, then dappling shade for the rest of the day, and be sure to bring it indoors if temperatures drop below 35°F. English Ivy Glacier and English Ivy Green Ideal are two relatives of Gold Child are just as suited for patios, railings, trellises, and ladders, given they'll climb just as well as their Gold Child relative. With unique vibes and patterns of their own, they're sure to add excellent variety and dimension wherever you plant them!
April is the perfect time to prep for a bountiful harvest by starting your cold season veggies indoors. You can move them outside and nurture them through the warmer months when things warm up a bit. Here are a few to try yourself:
- Brussel Sprouts
Veggies and fruit that prefer warmer months are just as numerous in the Kansas City region, so don't hesitate to plant a few of them when the warmer side of spring rolls around! Just be sure to mind the first and last frosts of the year. Here are a few to get you started:
- Butter Lettuce
- Sweet Potatoes
- Bush Beans
Best Landscaping Plants in Kansas City?
Finding plants that can endure the colder temperatures of this area might seem somewhat formidable. Still, that challenge is easily overcome with a look at the local species already populating the area. Several species are more than ready to handle the cold that comes with the territory, all with wonderful character of their own that's perfect for your garden. Be sure to confirm the soil composition in your area, and when you're all set in that regard, check out a few of these options for your growing season:
Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus): This plant also goes by the name "old man's beard" and is a deciduous native of the area. It works well as the focal point of plant beds. Feathery clusters of white flowers decorate this tree, taking on the appearance of a dusting of snow when in full bloom. Blooming season is substantial, lasting from spring to mid-fall, all the while producing a pleasant aroma with their flowers. Plant in full to partial shade for best results!
Ozark Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis): A distinguishing characteristic of this plant is that it can bloom as early as January to April! Bright reds and yellows are a great way to add color and texture to your garden, especially in winter. Capable of growing up to 10 feet tall, be sure to plant in full sun to partial shade to keep it happy and healthy. Be mindful of its unique roots if you wish to keep it contained in a particular area.
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum aethiopicum): With delicate, lush fronds of vivid green that last even into the winter months, this plant might seem fragile in appearance. However, it can easily withstand temperatures as low as 10°F, making it perfect for the region! It thrives best in moist soil with high humidity.
Growing fruits in Kansas City is as easy as making the right selection of plants, and there's no shortage of options that can handle the cold, producing a tasty harvest when temperatures rise. Give a few of these a try in your garden:
- Honeycrisp and Gala Apple Trees
- Nectar and Candor Peach Trees
- Sweetheart and Stella Cherry Trees
- Asian Pear Trees (Shinseiki, Seuri)
- Bosc Pear Trees
Which Plants Are Native to Kansas City?
Going with native plants for your garden provides you with plants that are ready to handle whatever the elements might throw their way and sets you up for success in several ways, from hardiness to resistance to pests. Not only that, but these native species are crucial to the local ecosystem, providing essential food and habitats for local wildlife that depend on both. If possible, see if you can plant any endangered varieties that might be in your area! If you're looking for inspiration, here are a few you can try this year:
Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa): These shrubs grow well in thickets, making this a perfect choice for hedges or windbreaks, and with its red stems and white berries coupled with white flowers, this plant is sure to add color and variety to your garden! Pest and disease resistant, it can thrive in full sun to partial shade and requires little to no maintenance to thrive.
Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata): Also known as "winecup" due to the cupped shape and deep shade of purple it showcases in full bloom, it can also come in shades of pink or white. Capable of forming mat foliage, it's perfect for hanging baskets and compliments other flowers or leaves of contrasting colors beautifully. Plant in full sun to partial shade and enjoy!
Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa): With a distinctive look and color, these beautiful flowers grow in an upright, columned clump in bright shades of yellow and gold, as the name implies! Blooming in August into September, be aware that they can grow quickly and aggressively, so be ready to cut them back if needed. Note that they also like full sun to partial shade.
Other Plants That Grow Well in Kansas City?
Sky Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense): A flower that blooms in fall and pairs beautifully with goldenrods, the lovely and daisy-like blooms of this plant will add vibrant color to your garden from August through October. These flowers can vary in shade but always showcase a bright yellow center. Pest resistant and a favorite of pollinators, this plant also thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin): Known for its spicy aroma, this plant is sure to add wonderful variety to your garden, not just with its scent, but also with the edible fruit it provides for the local wildlife! With tiny white or yellow flowers that bloom in spring, this plant's leaves also change color when fall arrives and is an excellent way to liven up a landscape when colder temperatures hit. Plant in partial shade, and be sure to give it a drink if things get too dry or hot!
Kansas City Gardening Tips
A Successful growing season in Kansas City is all about timing and staying on top of any weather extremes that might arise. It's never a bad idea to consult your local Farmer's Almanac or similar resource to get the information you need to keep your plants healthy and safe, or to plan accordingly for the substantial growing season of the region. Don't be afraid to overwinter plants as necessary, and consider cold frames, raised beds, or mulching to ensure your plants endure harsher conditions!
When Should I Plant My Garden in Kansas City?
Landing in Zone 6 of the USDA Hardiness scale, Kansas City's most important feature for the aspiring gardener is the first and last frosts of the year. The first usually occurs in November, the last sometime in late April or early May. However, this can vary from region to region, so be sure to check your specific area for accurate information!
Planting in Zone 6
Zone 6 is divided into two subzones, 6a, and 6b, respectively. Both are differentiated by their average winter temperature range, 6a with a range -10 to -5°F, and 6b with a range of -5 to 0°F. Due to this variation, annuals are a common choice of gardeners in the area, and so is overwintering to get some plants through the coldest temperatures. Mulching, cold frames, and raised beds can also be employed to allow a wider variety of plants for your already substantial growing season!