Landscaping on the hot, dry, Kansas prairie

As soon as I see the first petunia plants make their appearance at our local Orscheln’s, my mind starts thinking of all the places I can put flowers around our farm. In the past, when we had free range chickens, my flowers didn’t fair quite as well; however, this year, the girls are contained, so I went big. There’s nothing as visually pleasing as a well-maintained farm with beautiful flowers and plants scattered around; in pots, in flower beds–everywhere!

I’ve spent the past six years really honing my floral maintenance skills. I’ve tried all varieties of flowers. Some thrive in our hot, arid conditions; others shrivel within days (even when I water every evening). Here’s what works best for me out here on the prairie:

Cactus {Common Prickly Pear} 

I actually “re-homed” this cactus from a walk in our pasture. My husband came across it and I decided to dig it up. Cacti do well in well-drained, grainy (rocky) soil. I actually stuck this little guy back in a flower bed that isn’t very well drained, but it seems to be doing well for now. I’ll keep ya posted! 


These rugged plants look like a very close relative to the Gerbera Daisy, but are significantly more heat and cold tolerant. In some areas, they’re perennials. I found these at Orscheln’s and went crazy after I saw how beautifully they bloomed once at home; I headed back and bought four more containers! I’m keeping these in their pots and have scattered them around in the different flower beds and the front door. They come in a wide variety of colors and bloom boldly during the day, but close up at night.

Succulents {Dudleya}

Essentially kill-proof, Succulents are perfect if you’re a forgetful person who might go a few days without watering. I found a great deal on Succulents at Orscheln’s ($1.49 per plant!) and put them in my containers to add some visual texture and height variation. Succulents do really well in Kansas, but I made sure to put mine in a spot where they aren’t in direct sun all day.

Other flowers that do well:

Celosia  These peculiar-looking flowers grow incredibly well in full-sun; even when it’s 104° outside! These come in a variety of citrus-inspired hues and add a really beautiful color pop to both containers and beds. 

Petunias  Petunias are beautiful, grow well and really add bursts of color wherever they’re planted. I’ve strayed a bit from them in recent years because I was looking for more visual interest; however, a Petunia plant, when dead-headed regularly (just pull off the dead blooms), will grow and produce beautiful flowers all summer long. I have had great luck with petunias in full sun, full shade, and in containers as well as beds. They’re incredibly versatile.

Other tips:  The wind out here in Kansas has been known to blow upwards of 80 miles an hour during a storm, so I make sure to weight down all my flower pots by putting rocks in the bottom half of the pot before pouring in my potting soil and fertilizer (chicken poop).

Soil varieties have vast differences from one side of my yard to the other–some areas are more sandy, some are more clay-like. Because of this, what works in one spot, definitely may not work in another, regardless of the amount of sun the plant is getting. Take this into consideration and check the soil before you commit to planting something in an area.

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