To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower. — William Blake
We have all been touched by the untamed beauty of wildflowers. But beauty isn’t the only thing they have to offer the 21’st century gardener. They’re extremely hardy, mostly take care of themselves and their resistance to pests means you don’t have to use chemicals to ward off pests and diseases. I love them, in part, because they don’t need us.
What are wildflowers?
By definition, a wildflower is a flower that grows in the wilderness i.e. it is not planted intentionally through a seed. This does not necessarily mean that you cannot plant wildflower through a seed.
Back home in Wisconsin, my blue wildflower garden was the talk of the town. I hope some of the blue wildflowers on this list make their way into your gardens, too. The tables I’ve included in this list and our guides should help you identify any of these blue wildflowers if you happen upon them on your walk or in a crossword. See my notes on growing your own wildflower garden.
Types of Blue Wildflowers:
Here is a list of blue wildflowers names and pictures:
|Virginia Bluebells||Eastern North America||Spring|
|Corn Speedwell||Native to Africa, Asia and Europe||Winter|
|Chicory||Native to Europe central Russia & all over North America||July to October|
|Wild Blue Phlox||Central US||Mid to late Summer|
|Cornflower||Native to Europe, naturalized throughout much of the US||June to August|
|Forget Me Nots||Meadows of Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and North & South America||April to June|
|Marsh Blue Violets||Minnesota south to Arkansas and Mississippi, east to all New England and south to Georgia.||April to June|
|Harebell||Europe to the north Mediterranean||Late Summer to Autumn|
|Big Leaf Periwinkle||Native to Western Mediterranean||Late Summer to Autumn|
Blue Wildflowers in a Video:
1. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia Virginica)
One of the most beautiful and most easily identifiable blue purple wildflowers on our list, this stunner is endangered in most of its native range (most of Eastern North America) because of habitat loss. You can find it as far north as Ontario, south to Alabama and to the west its range extends to the Mississippi River with Kansas being the westernmost location you’ll find these as native plants. Virginia bluebells bloom in mid spring (mid April through mid May in Wisconsin). Loose clutches of flowers dangle at the end of coiled/arched stems, and the buds open to blue wildflowers with a sweet fragrance.
|Virginia Bluebells||Mertensia virginica|
|Height||Up to 24 inches|
|Location||Eastern North America|
2. Corn Speedwell (Veronica Arvensis)
These tiny blue purple wildflowers are low growing winter annuals, produce branching stems which grow close to the ground in a bent fashion, then stand upright. Flowers are small, ¼ to ½-inch across, with blue petals and dark-blue stripes. Like other speedwell species, not all of whom are blue wildflowers, each flower has two stamens and one style. Habitats include savannas with little vegetation, lawns and gardens, grassy areas along roads, rocky glades and arid wastelands. These blue purple wildflowers are the most common plant on our list, and can be found in almost every county of every state, from South Carolina, to Illinois to Tennessee and even sweltering Texas.
|Corn Speed Well||Veronica Arvensis|
|Height||2-8 inches tall|
|Location||Native to Africa, Asia and Europe|
3. Chicory (Cichorium Intybus)
Perennial chicory is a small blue purple wildflower identified by its tough, hairy stem, light purple flowers and leaves that are great in a salad. There are many varieties of chicory plant, known by different names globally because of their numerous medicinal and culinary qualities. In Wisconsin, we called this pretty blue wildflower ‘coffee weed’ because its roots are roasted, ground and brewed into a mean cup of coffee. Generally, chicory plants grow straight up with many lance shaped leaves branching off of the stems. The basal leaves are green or red in colour, spoon shaped, and can be up to 25 cm long.
|Colours||Blue, pink and white|
|Height||10-40 inches tall|
|Season||July to October|
|Location||Native to Europe central Russia and western Asia and naturalized all over North America|
4. Wild blue Phlox (Phlox divaricate)
Phlox, meaning flame, is most common in mideastern woods and fields, and thrives in cool, sunny climates in rich, sweet (alkaline) soil. Phlox are beloved, and it’s easy to see why. They’re resilient, long blooming, perfumed and attract tons of butterflies. They can be anywhere from 2-5 ft tall, and turn out big curtains of blooms in all different colours, from starkly white to deep, velvety reds. Phlox grows happily in most of the country, from California to Iowa and the deep south, Virginia and Carolina. Interestingly enough, there’s a town in Wisconsin named after this pretty, occasionally blue wildflower.
|Wild blue Phlox||Phlox Divaricate|
|Colours||White to red, with nearly every shade of pink, lavender, salmon and purple|
|Height||2-4 feet tall|
|Season||Mid to late summer|
5. Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Cornflowers— or bachelor’s button— are vibrantly coloured blue wildflowers, with simple leaves and bright, thistle esque flower heads and enlarged outer florets. In folklore, cornflowers were worn by young men in love; if the flower faded fast, it meant their love wasn’t returned, hence the name. Though these most commonly appear with flowers that are blue, they can also be found in pink, violet or white. Cornflowers are endangered in their native habitat on account of agricultural intensification, though their introduction as an ornamental plant has seen them naturalized in many other parts of the world, including the UK. Cornflowers grow and flower best in sunny positions, and they look great in beds and borders, which is where I had them in Wisconsin.
|Season||June to August|
|Location||Native to Europe, naturalized throughout much of the US|
6. Forget Me Nots (Myositis Arvensis)
The name Myosotis comes from the greek ‘mouse’s ear’ which the flowers are said to resemble. The colloquial name “forget-me-not” was derived from the German Vergissmeinnicht and first used in English by King Henry IV of England in 1398. This meek but wonderful blue wildflower appears in great frothy waves at the edges of paths and in borders. It accents other spring flowers, especially taller ones and looks great for wilder plantings or sequestered in a box. These tiny blue wildflowers, are just darling and grow on hairy stalks that can reach two feet in length. Sweet, five petaled blue blooms with yellow centers grow from the stems from April through June.
|Forget me Nots||Myositis Arvensis|
|Colours||Pink, pale blue and white|
|Height||Up to 2 feet|
|Season||April to June|
|Location||Meadows of Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and North and South America|
7. Marsh Blue Violet (Viola Cucullata Aiton)
Marsh blue violets are a beautiful blue purple wildflower in the Violaceae family, which is about 800 species strong, not all of them wildflowers. It’s a small, moisture loving violet with no stem and a knot of leaves beneath its simple darkly veined five petaled flowers. Its sides curve inwards, resembling a hood, hence the species name cucullata meaning ‘hoodlike’. It’s native to eastern North America, from Newfoundland west to Ontario and Minnesota, and south to Georgia.
|Marsh Blue Violets||Viola cucullata|
|Colours||Light to dark blue violet|
|Season||April to June|
|Location||Minnesota south to Arkansas and Mississippi, east to all New England and south to Georgia.|
8. Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Harebell’s name alludes to the folk beliefs that it either grew in places frequented by hares or that witches used juices squeezed from this flower to transform themselves into hares. Though you might think it a rather fragile blue purple wildflower, owing to its papery petals and fragile appearance, it is incredibly hardy and resilient and best suited to dry open places, from mountain tops to sand dunes, harebell is happiest where it’s dry. The distinct powder blue bells on slender stalks make this one blue purple wildflower that’s hard to miss, whether it’s at elevations of up 12,000 feet in the US or on turf in the UK.
|Colours||Blue and lavender|
|Season||Late summer, autumn|
|Location||Europe to the north Mediterranean|
9. Bigleaf Periwinkle (Vinca Major)
Vinca, from the Latin vincire “to bind, fetter” is the only poisonous blue purple wildflower on our list, and the only flower I never grew back in Wisconsin. It’s a deceptively pretty little plant, with slender, winding stems and attractive blooms that loves copses and hedgeboxes just as much as barren ground. It’s also an excellent study in erosion control, because the stems quickly develop roots where they come into contact with the soil. It grows equally in sun as it does shade, and you can expect the flowers come spring.
|Big leaf periwinkle||Vinca Major|
|Colours||Purple, blue and white|
|Height||Up to 10 inches|
|Season||Late summer, autumn|
|Location||Native to Western Mediterranean|