Did you find a RED wildflower in Minnesota?

Types of red wildflowers in Minnesota

If so, I’m sure you’re wondering what type of wildflower you found! Luckily, you can use this guide to help you identify it. 🙂

 

Please be aware that I’m ONLY listing the most common red wildflowers today. There are so many species, varieties, and subspecies that it would be impossible to name them all. But if you want to dive even deeper into ALL the red wildflowers in Minnesota, check out this field guide!

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Today, we will look at 11 RED wildflowers you can find in Minnesota.


#1. Indian Paintbrush

  • Castilleja coccinea

Also known as: Scarlet Indian Paintbrush, Scarlet Paintbrush, Scarlet Painted-cup

Red wildflowers in Minnesota

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Life Cycle: Biennial or Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 4-36 in (10-91 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun

 

Indian Paintbrush is a hemiparasite, which means it feeds on the nutrients of other plants instead of creating nutrients through photosynthesis. Its most common hosts are grasses and sagebrush. To collect the nutrients, this red wildflower in Minnesota must attach its roots to the roots of its host.

 

Because of its parasitic nature, Indian Paintbrush can be hard to grow in home gardens and doesn’t transplant well. As a result, it’s commonly found in open fields with other wildflowers and grasses.

 

Interestingly, if you look closely, the red coloring on Indian Paintbrush isn’t the flower, but a part of its leaves called bracts.

 


#2. Columbine

  • Aquilegia canadensis

Also known as: Red Columbine, Wild Columbine, Canadian Columbine, Jack-In-Trousers, Meeting Houses

Minnesota red wildflowers

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3b-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial or Biennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 6-48 in (15-122 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Sun

 

You might be more familiar with Columbine varieties from Europe that are purple and blue. However, Red Columbine is a native red wildflower in Minnesota! You’re probably looking at Columbine if you spot drooping, bell-like red wildflowers near woodlands.

 

Columbine grows particularly well in gardens or even as a potted plant. Aside from painting your garden with a myriad of colors, the Columbine can attract hummingbirds, bumblebees, and butterflies, which help to pollinate these beauties. Finches and Buntings are also known to eat the seeds!

 

 


#3. Fire Pink

  • Silene virginica

Also known as: Scarlet Catchfly, Cliff Pink, Indian Pink

Types of red wildflowers in Minnesota

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 8-36 in (20-91 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring to Mid Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade

 

Fire Pink is a native, carnivorous red wildflower in Minnesota.

 

Carnivorous plants that trap and eat insects sound like something from a tropical jungle, but we have tons of them in North America! The sticky hairs on its leaves trap prey and discourage ants and other pests from eating the leaves.

 

Fire Pink has five bright red petals that flare out into long tubes. Although this plant is pollinated primarily by hummingbirds, many small songbirds eat its seeds. Juncos, Pine Siskins, Sparrows, Water Pipits, and Horned Larks are all common birds attracted to it.

 


#4. Pitcher Plant

  • Sarracenia purpurea

Also known as: Purple Pitcher Plant, Northern Pitcher Plant

Red wildflowers in Minnesota

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 8-16 in (20-41 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

You might be surprised to know that the Pitcher Plant is carnivorous and can capture a wide range of animals! Although they’re primarily insectivores, frogs, lizards, newts, and even Spotted Salamanders are on the menu.

 

Pitcher plants get their name from goblet-shaped leaves that help them catch their prey. The leaves fill with water, and insects and other small animals fall in and can’t get out. Eventually, the insect drowns, and enzymes made by the plant digest its meal.

 

You can easily distinguish Pitcher Plants by their purple-veined leaves that grow into the shape of a pitcher or cup. The pitchers are about 6 inches (15 cm) long with a large lip. A leafless stalk grows from the middle, and a single reddish-purple flower blooms at the top.

 


#5. Cardinal Flower

  • Lobelia cardinalis

Also known as: Red Bay, Scarlet Lobelia, Indian Pink, Water Gladiole, Slinkweed, Bog Sage, Hog’s Physic

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 3.6-72 in (9-183 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Summer to Early Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

The blooms on this red wildflower in Minnesota cluster on the end of a long stalk. The Cardinal Flower has dark green leaves with purple undersides.

 

If you’re especially fond of hummingbirds, you can use the Cardinal Flower to attract them to your neighborhood. While other insects might find it hard to reach the sweet nectar inside, the tubular flowers are perfect for the long beaks of hummingbirds.

 

Cardinal Flowers grow well in a garden setting. Plant it in an area with partial sun for a beautiful pop of red that will attract hummingbirds!

 


#6. Spotted Coralroot

  • Corallorhiza maculata

Also known as: Summer Coralroot, Speckled Coral Root, Many-flowered Coral Root

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 3.9-31 in (10-79 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade to Full Shade

 

This red wildflower is commonly found in wooded areas in Minnesota.

 

The most interesting feature of Spotted Coralroot is that it doesn’t have any leaves! Instead, the bare stalks produce clusters of flowers. Since this plant isn’t capable of photosynthesis, it siphons nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi, which is a natural fungus that occurs in its roots.

 

Mining bees are especially attracted to Spotted Coralroot. Although they pollinate this native orchid, it can also self-pollinate by transferring its pollen as its flower opens.

 


#7. Prairie Smoke

  • Geum triflorum

Also known as: Red Avens, Three-flowered Avens, Old Man’s Whiskers

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 6-18 in (15-46 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Mid Spring to Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Prairie Smoke is one of the most striking red wildflowers in Minnesota.

 

Its green leaves turn red, purple, or orange in colder seasons. It produces bright red flower buds that droop from long stems during the spring.

 

However, the real show starts when the flowers start to seed. They open to reveal feathery, silvery-pink seed heads that unfurl into puffy clouds. It’s easy to mistake these wispy pink plumes for smoke, which is how they got their common name, Prairie Smoke.

 


#8. Painted-leaf

  • Euphorbia cyathophora

Also known as: Wild Poinsettia

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-11
  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 28-35 in (71-89 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Spring to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

You can easily identify the Painted-leaf by its fiddle-shaped leaves with blotches of reddish pink near the base. Their coloring gives them a painted look, which is where their common name came from. You might mistake these colorful leaves as petals, but if you take a closer look, you will see that the true flowers are small and yellow.

 

This red wildflower in Minnesota grows in many different soil types, and it’s common across its range. So you’re likely to spot it in habitats ranging from forest edges to open fields.

 


#9. Scarlet Bee Balm

  • Monarda didyma

Also known as: Red Bergamot, Scarlet Monarda, Horsemint, Indian Plume

bee balm plants that need divided

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 24-72 in (61-183 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

A native red wildflower in Minnesota, Scarlet Bee Balm attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Scarlet Bee Balm grows up to 4′ (1.2 m) tall and produces bright red tubular blooms that are a fantastic nectar source. Deadheading flowers will encourage a second round of blooms.

 

Although it’s most commonly grown in gardens as an ornamental plant, you may spot Scarlet Bee Balm on the edge of forests in full sun.

 


#10. Wine Cup

  • Callirhoe involucrata

Also known as: Purple Poppy Mallow

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8a
  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Approximate Mature Size: 4-12 in (10-30 cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring to Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

The Wine Cup is named for its vibrant chalice-shaped flowers. The blooms are magenta, with a white spot at the base of the five upturned petals.

 

You can plant the beautiful Wine Cup in hanging pots, garden walls, or open meadows to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The stems trail along the ground and spread to about three feet but won’t smother your other plants.

 

This drought-resistant red wildflower is found in open fields and clearings in Minnesota.

 


#11. Blanket Flower

  • Gaillardia pulchella

Also known as: Indian Blanket, Indian Blanketflower, Beach Blanket-flower, Firewheel, Sundance

Growing Information

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11
  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Approximate Mature Size: 12-24 in (30-61cm) tall
  • Bloom Time: Summer to Early Fall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade

 

Blanket Flower is a sunflower with an impressive display of red, orange, and yellow petals. Don’t be surprised if you spot many bees and birds where these flowers grow!

 

Many beekeepers use Blanket Flower in the production of honey. The honey made from this red wildflower is mild, buttery, and amber-colored.

 

Goldfinches enjoy the seeds of Blanket Flower, so don’t forget to leave some seedheads after the flowering season!

 


What are your FAVORITE red wildflowers in Minnesota?

 

Let us know in the COMMENTS below!