A wide variety of flowers are suitable for planting in West Virginia's shallow, claylike and acidic soil. Azaleas, hydrangeas and proteas are the best flowers to plant in areas predominated by acidic soils. The runner bean, black-eyed Susan and butter daisy are ideal flowers for a West Virginia garden with slow-draining, clay-based soil. Rose campion and tall verbena are herbaceous flowering plants that tolerate shallow soils.
The showy, elegant great laurel (Rhododendron maximum) is the official West Virginia state flower. The West Virginia Legislature designated the great laurel as the floral emblem of the Mountain State on Jan. 29, 1903. This evergreen shrub hails from the Rhododendron genus in the Ericaceae family of flowering plants. Great laurel produces large, white to purplish-pink spotted blossoms in clusters of 16 to 24. Rhododendron grows from 4 to 15 feet tall but can grow 30 feet high under ideal conditions. Great laurel grows best in slightly shady spots in cool, moist, well-drained soil.
New England Aster
Attract honeybees, the official West Virginia state insect, to your garden with the New England aster (Aster novae-angliae). Native to the Northeastern part of North America, New England asters are among the best flowers to plant in West Virginia. These perennials are hardy plants with hairy, rounded stems and deep-green leaves. New England asters produce bright, magenta-lilac to purple flowers from August through October. The flowers grow up to 2 to 6 feet in height and bloom for up to 45 days. West Virginia's average summer temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit suits New England asters. This flower thrives in rich, moist soil and grows best in spots offering full sun exposure.
The soil in West Virginia is shallow, clay and acidic. Aquilegia (Columbia) flower varieties -- including "Canadensis," "Tequila Sunrise" and "Songbird Cardinal" -- are some of the best flowers to plant in West Virginia because they tolerate acidic soil. Aquilegia is a hardy perennial that grows in the wild throughout North America. Aquilegia flowers during the summer and produces showy blossoms in a variety of colors. The "Canadensis" variety consists of slender, red-pink petals and peach-colored spurs. Tangerine petals surround a golden inflorescence on the "Tequila Sunrise" cultivar. In general, aquilegia flowers are bell-shaped and face the garden floor. Although aquilegia prefers sandy soil, it tolerates acidic soil and continues to grow in dappled shade or sun.
The tobacco flower (Nicotiana) is best for West Virginia gardeners wishing to grow highly fragrant flowers. This large, hardy annual produces 2-inch-long, trumpet-shaped, mostly white blossoms with hues of lilac, yellow, pink and red. Flowers appear in pendulous clusters in the early summer and continuously reflower throughout the season. Night blooming flowers open just before sunset and remain fragrant throughout the evening. The tobacco flower cultivates best in full sun in moisture-retentive, well-drained, nutrient-rich soils. USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 11 are suitable for the tobacco flower; West Virginia plant hardiness zones range from 5b to 7a.
- 50 States: West Virginia State Flower
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Rhododendron maximum (Great Laurel)
- Texas AgriLife Extension Service: New England Aster
- Botany: Aquilegia
- National Garden Bureau: Year of the Nicotiana
- State Symbols USA: West Virginia State Insect -- Honeybee
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: A Look at West Virginia Agriculture
- Birds and Blooms: Top 10 Plants for Clay Soil