Alaska is the biggest state in the US with a wide range of climates. It has some of the harshest conditions that pose a challenge for blooming delicate flowers.
Still, it’s home to numerous wildflower species. So exactly what flowers grow well in Alaska?
The flowers that grow best in Alaska are native to the region. The woolly lousewort has insulating wool, the moss campion has cushioning to absorb moisture from the fog, and the arctic poppies follow the sun’s path for optimum photosynthesis. Alaska is home to different perennials, annuals, deciduous shrubs, and evergreen wildflower shrubs.
This article will highlight some adaptations of Alaskan flowers and list the characteristics of some of the most common native wildflowers in Alaska.
What Flowers Grow Well in Alaska?
Because of their survival adaptations, the best plants that grow in any region are those which are native to its land. Native plants grow without human intervention.
We can sum the benefits of growing native Alaska flowers as follows:
- They support native animals and insects
- They’re adapted to the region’s soil, needing less water, pesticides, and fertilizers.
- It’s unlikely that they’ll become invasive against other native species
Adaptations of Alaskan Wildflowers
Alaska’s wildflowers have developed a number of common adaptations to survive the harsh environment.
Woolly Lousewort (Pedicularis lanata) has advanced insulating “wool” for protection against the chill. The wool is a fuzzy layer that wraps around the plant’s stem and the young flowers.
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) can thrive in dry cracks on rocky ridges and other harsh barren spots. Similar to the Arctic Forget-Me-Not and Creeping Phlox, the Moss Campion has a cushioning trait.
Cushioning allows the plants to extract and store moisture from fog and flurries. Moss Companion also obtains minerals from silt and its own dead leaves, which are trapped in its dense greenery.
Responding to Cloudiness
Arctic Gentian (Gentiana Algida) folds its petals immediately when the clouds gather to avoid the dilution of its ambrosia.
Arctic Poppies (Papaver radicatum) have cup-shaped flowers that track the sun full circle. This trait allows it to maximize photosynthesis in low-light regions.
This trait also traps heat with the flower cup, creating interiors that are much warmer than the ambient air. This speeds the ripening of seeds at the center and attracts fly pollinators.
The Moss Campion (Silene acaulis) has a hedgehog silhouette providing the largest surface for photosynthesis with minimal exposure.
Lapland Rosebay (Rhododendron lapponicum) and Purple Mountain Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) are hardy dwarf shrubs that have small waxy leaves. The leaves’ waxiness limits evaporation and duck winds by hugging the earth beneath.
Snow Buttercup (Ranunculus Nivalis) has hair-coated sepals that grow into yellow petals. They protect the bud that develops into fruit after pollination. The petals fall off when the spring arrives.
Native Flowers Grow Well in Alaska
Alaska’s native flowers grow on wild deciduous and evergreen shrubs as well as vines, perennials, and annuals. Those plants are concentrated in various climatic zones.
Deciduous shrubs have leaves that fall off at the end of their season. The leaves grow again in spring. Deciduous shrubs can be short ground covers or grow to the height of a short tree.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
Serviceberry is domesticated for producing fruits. Clusters of white fragrant flowers grow on the shrub before the leaves appear in mid-spring. The flowers attract pollinators initiating fertilization.
Afterward, in early summer, the fruits become ripe and ready for human as well as animal consumption. The small sweet blueberries are used for jams, jellies, and juices.
In autumn, Serviceberry retains its glamor with new shades of orange leaves that eventually fall off.
Shrubby Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
This bushy shrub is richly adorned with bright yellow flowers that bloom from late spring till the initial frost. Aside from its extensive blooming season, the shrub is favored by gardeners for surviving the droughts of both summer and winter.
The Shrubby Cinquefoil prefers full to partial sun exposure and tolerates poor salt soil. It’s a charming addition to any garden and requires minimal care.
Evergreen shrubs have leaves that remain colored and functional all year long. The old leaves are only shed after the new ones have entirely formed.
Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
This dense evergreen shrub is native to Western North America. Its distinctive leathery and glossy green leaves turn reddish-purple in winter. Because of their attractive looks, florists use the leaves in flower arrangements.
In spring, dangling white or pink flowers grow on dark red stems. The produced dark-blue berries are edible to animals and humans. They can be eaten raw or cooked.
Salal prefers shaded areas and expands horizontally to form brilliant ground covers.
Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)
Leatherleaf blooms in spring, preferring to grow in wetland areas like bogs. Its pure white flowers elegantly dangle from upward-arching stems. Although the leaves remain year-round, they get a purplish tint in winter.
Reddish capsules follow the flowers, endure the winter cold, and remain on the plant. The shrub resists pests and diseases, requiring minimal care. It can grow up to three feet in height, forming dense thickets that suit bog gardens, mixed gardens, and mixed borders.
Perennial plants continue growing for at least two years. We regularly use perennial herbs like mint, sage, and oregano.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
Fireweed has reddish erect stems holding stunning rosy-purple flowers. It spreads quickly and can invade a garden if not controlled. The seeds are also airborne to form distant vibrant colonies.
Besides efficiently propagating itself, Fireweed is resistant to pests and diseases, rendering it a low-maintenance plant. Moreover, expect lively visitors to your garden, for this plant attracts pollinators.
Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
This bright perennial grows multitudes of dangling upside-down red and yellow flowers with protruding stamens.
However, its charm can only be enjoyed for a few weeks, from late spring to early summer. Visiting butterflies and Hummingbirds will also add to the delight of this plant’s bloom.
Although the Western Columbian has had medicinal uses for the natives, it should be held with care because its sap can irritate the skin. The plant is very adaptable and easy to grow, but it can’t handle poorly drained soil.
Annual plants go through germination, flowering, and seed production in a short amount of time. They have an extended flowering season but wither at the season’s end. Every year, all the plant parts wither except for the dormant seeds, which grow the next generation.
Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
The widely loved Sunflower is native to Northern Mexico, Canada, and the United States. You probably guessed you need to grow them in a sunny spot because they’ll follow the sun with their vast dark-centered yellow heads.
This flower is resistant to deers but still attractive to bees and birds, bringing a touch of wilderness. Growing Sunflowers is generally easy as they’re tolerant of poor soil. However, make sure to shield taller flowers from the wind.
Alaska has extremely short summers. To enjoy a prolonged sunflower bloom, sow the seeds indoors 3–4 weeks before the last frost.
Blue Gilia (Gilia capitata)
Blue Gilia provides weeks of powder-blue color from late spring to mid-summer. Each erect stem holds a charming flower ball consisting of 50-100 tiny blossoms. The protruding stamens give the flowerheads their distinctive pincushion appearance.
This annual resists both pests and diseases, tolerates droughts, and is easy to grow. Its abundant nectar attracts honeybees, native bees, and butterflies.
Wrap Up On What Flowers Grow Well in Alaska
Alaska’s harsh climate and landscape haven’t posed a challenge for numerous plants. Knowing what flowers grow well in Alaska can help us invest in native species that require less care.
Those local wildflowers have proven their resilience with a set of adaptations. The list we’ve provided isn’t comprehensive. There’s much more to explore about Alaska than can’t be listed in a single article.
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