As American as fireworks in July, official state flowers honor the natural diversity of our country. The idea dates back to 1893, when, for a national garland at the Chicago World's Fair, each state was asked to nominate a floral emblem. The sunflower was a shoo-in for Kansas, suggesting "the majesty of a golden future." But debates raged in other states as they struggled for consensus on a single bloom. In some close contests, legislators turned to botanists to break a tie. Or they consulted schoolchildren, who, in Colorado, chose the Rocky Mountain columbine and, in Rhode Island, the violet. Most of these picks are common natives that bloom on summer roadsides or are familiar transplants, comfortably at home in their adopted state. Many are also such great all-around garden plants that—no matter where you live—they'll thrive with little fuss, adding notes of carefree Americana to your landscape.
Here, we present all 50 state flowers, along with growing tips and recommended varieties.
Shown: No bloom holds more titles than the rose. It's an official emblem for New York, Georgia, North Dakota, Iowa, and Oklahoma, as well as the national flower of the U.S.A.