10 Beautiful Biennial Wildflowers to Grow in Your Garden

Biennial wildflowers combine the qualities of annuals and perennials. These wildflowers live for two years but won’t flower in their first year. In this article, we’ll look at ten popular types of biennial wildflowers.

Colorful biennial wildflowers in bloom

About Biennial Wildflowers

Biennial wildflowers are one of the three main flower categories, along with annuals and perennials. Biennial wildflowers only live for two years.

Like perennials, biennial wildflowers won’t bloom in their first year while they develop strong root systems. Biennials bloom in their second year and have a long flowering season like annuals. Biennials die off completely once flowering finishes but often self-seed.

Biennial wildflowers only require a little maintenance as they naturally die back to their roots in their first year. What’s more, they can be pulled up after flowering and self-seeding in their second year.


1) American Bellflower

Purple American Bellflowers in bloom

Also known as tall bellflowers, American bellflowers are annual or biennial wildflowers from the Campanulaceae family. They are native to central and eastern areas of North America.

One of my favorite things about these plants is their gorgeous tall flower spikes covered in light blue star-shaped flowers. Each flower has a white center and is about an inch wide.

American bellflowers grow best in USDA Zones 4 to 7. These attractive wildflowers require full sun or partial shade and moist, well-draining soils.

Scientific Name:Campanula americana
Height:3 to 6 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

2) Common Evening Primrose

A cluster of biennial yellow Common Evening Primrose flowers

Common evening primroses are gorgeous types of biennial wildflowers native to central and eastern parts of North America. It belongs to the Oenothera genus in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae).

Common evening primroses produce clusters of yellow flowers with four petals. The flowers emerge from tall flower spikes. Each flower only lasts for a single day after opening in the evening.

In my experience, common evening primroses need full sun or partial shade and moist, well-draining soils. These pretty biennials thrive in Zones 4 to 9.

Scientific Name:Oenothera biennis
Height:Up to 5 feet
Flowering Season:Summer to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun to partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

3) Forget-Me-Nots

Blue Forget-Me-Nots in bloom

Forget-me-nots are biennial or perennial wildflowers native to Eurasia and the Americas. They belong to the Myosotis genus in the borage family.

I love ther beautiful star-shaped flowers with five petals and yellow centers. These small flowers come in blue, white, pink, or yellow and are popular with pollinators.

Forget-me-nots grow best in Zones 3 to 8 and make excellent ground cover plants. In my garden, these plants grow best in full sun or partial shade and moist, well-draining soils.

Scientific Name:Myosotis spp.
Height:Up to 1 foot
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

4) Foxgloves

A cluster of colorful biennial Foxglove flowers in bloom displaying spikes of tubular flowers

Foxgloves are beautiful types of biennial wildflowers that belong to the Digitalis genus in the plantain family (Plantaginaceae). These colorful flowers are native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

They produce tall stalks covered in thimble-like flowers that are popular with bees. Foxgloves can be pink, purple, white, or yellow. The insides of the flowers often have spot-like markings.

Foxgloves need well-draining, loamy soils and full sun or partial shade and are hardy to Zones 4 to 10.

Scientific Name:Digitalis spp.
Height:2 to 5 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Well-draining soil

5) Hollyhocks

Colorful Hollyhocks growing in a wildflower garden

Hollyhocks are dramatic types of biennial wildflowers native to Eurasia. These towering flowers come from the Alcea genus within the mallow family (Malvaceae).

Hollyhocks grow up to 8 feet tall and produce masses of pink, purple, white, or yellow flowers. Each flower can be up to 4 inches wide. These large flowers are perfect for attracting bees.

Hollyhocks thrive in Zones 2 to 10 and can tolerate cold temperatures. They require moist, well-draining soils and full sun or partial shade.

Scientific Name:Alcea spp.
Height:Up to 8 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

6) Honesty

Purple biennial Honesty flowers in bloom

Honesty is a pretty biennial wildflower from the cabbage family (Brassicaceae). These attractive flowers are known for their translucent oval seed pods. Due to these seed pods, honesty is also known as moneywort or silver dollar plants.

Along with the seed pods, honesty also produces clusters of gorgeous purple or white flowers. The flowers have a beautiful fragrance.

Honesty needs full sun or partial shade and moist, well-draining soils. These biennials grow well in Zones 5 to 9.

Scientific Name:Lunaria annua
Height:2 to 3 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

7) Sweet William

A collection of colorful Sweet William wildflowers in bloom on a sunny day

Sweet William are colorful types of biennial wildflowers native to southern Europe. These attractive flowers come from the Dianthus genus within the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae).

Sweet William produces clusters of small, bi-colored flowers with frilled edges. Common color combinations include red and white or shades of pink and purple. The flowers have a faint scent of cloves.

Sweet William thrives in Zones 3 to 9. These biennial wildflowers need moist, well-draining soils and full sun or partial shade.

Scientific Name:Dianthus barbatus
Height:Up to 2 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

8) Teasels

Teasels growing natively displaying thistle-like flower heads in shades of purple.

Teasels are unusual biennial wildflowers from the Dipsacus genus of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). Teasels are native to parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.

I love their large thistle-like flower heads with tiny blue, purple, or white flowers. The middle flowers bloom first before the flowers above and below emerge in a sequence.

Teasels are adaptable plants that thrive in most well-draining soils. They also need full sun or partial shade and grow best in Zones 3 to 9.

Scientific Name:Dipsacus spp.
Height:3 to 8 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Most well-draining soils

9) Viper’s Bugloss

Blue biennial Viper's Bugloss wildflowers in bloom.

Viper’s bugloss is a biennial or perennial wildflower native to parts of Eurasia. These wildflowers have also been introduced to North America. Viper’s bugloss belongs to the borage family.

In my opinion, they stand out for their tall flowering spikes filled with tiny blue flowers. The flowers are pink when they first bloom before turning blue. Viper’s bugloss also produces blue pollen.

Viper’s bugloss requires full sun and grows in most types of well-draining soils. These nectar-rich biennials thrive in Zones 3 to 8.

Scientific Name:Echium vulgare
Height:1 to 3 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Well-draining soils

10) Wallflowers

Yellow and orange Wallflowers in bloom.

Wallflowers are perennial wildflowers that grow as biennials in gardens. Wallflowers belong to the Erysimum genus in the cabbage family.

Wallflowers have four-lobed petals that come in blue, purple, orange, red, or yellow. These colorful flowers are adaptable enough to grow through cracks in walls, hence the name. I find that some wallflowers also produce sweet scents.

Wallflowers thrive in Zones 6 to 10 and need loose, sandy soils and full sun or partial shade.

Scientific Name:Erysimum spp.
Height:1 to 3 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Loose, well-draining soils

Wrapping Up

Biennial wildflowers live for two years and won’t flower in their first year while they develop their root systems. Many types of biennial flowers enjoy a long flowering season in their second year. Common biennial wildflowers include foxgloves, teasels, and common evening primrose. Remember that it’s illegal to pick native flowers unless you’re on private land and have the landowner’s permission.

Contributing Editor | edd@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

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