Gardening is a pastime that provides beauty and, possibly, dinner, to those who engage in it. Choosing which plants to include in the garden can be fun or stressful, depending on the personality of the gardener.
Perennials are generally a good choice, especially for those who prefer not to have to redo the garden every year. Perennials come back year after year and tend to be low maintenance plants. They withstand winters, even where they are more difficult and many varieties get quite tall because they continue to grow over the years.
Which perennials to choose for your garden will depend to some degree on the location and layout of your garden. Some perennials do better where there is full sun, while others thrive in partial or full shade. Some need more water than others. Some bloom only once while others bloom all season. Taking these and other factors into consideration will assist you in creating a garden that will delight you and your family and friends for years to come.
When purchasing from a nursery or garden store, choose plants that have dark green foliage, as lighter colors may indicate unhealthy plants. Perennials are usually sold during their blooming season, which allows gardeners to choose according to the colors of the flowers, if desired.
Blooms in Spring
Athyrium nipponicum (Japanese Painted Fern) – Full Sun or Partial Shade, Average Soil
While this fern does not technically have flowers, its leaves come out in spring in pretty colors and the plant is dormant over fall and winter.
Baptisia (False Indigo) – Full or Partial Sun, Damp Soil
Often found along banks of streams, this plant shoots up tall flowers over a mound of blue-green foliage.
Dicentra (Bleeding Hearts) – Full or Partial Shade, Rich Soil
Available in a variety of colors, including pink, red, white, and purple, these graceful plants have hanging flowers that resemble hearts.
Helleborus (Lenten Rose) – Full or Partial Shade, Rich Soil
These flowers bloom in early spring and are often considered one of the first signs of spring. Like roses, they have several rows of petals for a nice, full flower.
Salvia Nemerosa (May Night Sage) – Full Sun, Well-Drained Soil
The tall indigo flowers shoot up out of spiky green foliage for a beautiful show of purple.
Blooms in Summer
Aconitum (Monkshood, Wolfsbane) – Partial Shade, Rich, Damp Soil
Beautiful but poisonous, this plant should be kept separate from plants that are intended for ingestion.
Astilbe (False Goat’s Beard) – Full or Partial Shade, Average Soil
Tall plants that bloom fluffy and have frilly leaves, these plants are great for the back layer of a perennial garden and pair well with shorter perennials that like shade.
Campanula (Bellflowers, Canterbury Bells) – Full Sun or Partial Shade, Average Soil
These are happiest in areas where there are cool nights and moderate temperatures. The large dark blue flowers stick up above the mound of leaves on short stalks.
Delphinium (Larkspur) – Full Sun, Average Soil
Larkspur comes in a wide variety of colors and add beauty to any garden. However, be aware that the leaves and seeds are poisonous.
Echinacea (Coneflower) – Full Sun, Tolerates Dry Soil
Coneflowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bumblebees, and ladybugs that will help keep your garden healthy. Echinacea is also an herb to help keep people healthy, and is often used to support the immune system, among other things.
Geranium (Cranesbill) – Full Sun or Partial Shade, Average Soil
Geraniums are a popular flower in the United States. These cheerful blooms are beautiful in gardens or in pots on the windowsill. They come in shades of red and white, and occasionally a bit of blue or purple.
Hemerocallis (Daylily) – Full Sun to Partial Shade, Average Soil
Daylilies come in many colors, and many have multiple colors on one flower. These are generally easy to grow. They are hardy and will spread over time.
Hosta – Full to Partial Shade, Average Soil
Hosta comes in several shades of green, as well as an amazing array of other colors. This shrub-like plant makes great ground cover. Its flowers tower over the main foliage in mid- to late-summer.
Rudbeckia Hirta (Black-Eyed Susan) – Full or Partial Sun, Average Soil
Often found growing rampantly throughout unkempt fields in parts of the United States, these beautiful flowers attract all kinds of beneficial creatures to the garden. They may take time to establish but once they do, the blooms will be worth the wait!
Blooms in Fall
Chelone Lyonii (Turtlehead) – Full Sun to Partial Shade, Wet Soil
This hardy plant loves streambanks and boggy places. The flower is similar to a snapdragon and is a pretty pink.
Chrysanthemum – Full Sun or Partial Shade, Average Soil
The quintessential fall flower, mums look beautiful in a garden or a pot and come in a wide variety of colors.
Coreopsis (Tickseed) – Full Sun, Average Soil
Tickseed loves the sun and produces bright and cheerful yellow flowers on plants that get about two feet tall. Butterflies love these flowers!
Eutrochium or Eupatorium (Snakeroot, Trumpetweed, Queen of the Meadow or Joe-Pye Weed) – Full Sun, Wet Soil
Tall plants that range from four to seven feet, these make a great border for a garden or yard. Butterflies love them! They may also be useful herbally as a diuretic and topically for joint pain relief.
Helenium (Sneezeweed) – Full Sun, Wet Soil
These can grow up to six feet tall! They bloom until late fall and many butterflies find them desirable.
Perovskia Atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) – Full Sun, Tolerates Dry Soil
Silvery-green leaves give way to sky blue flowers that delight hummingbirds and bees.
Solidago (Goldenrod) – Full Sun, Average Soil
Despite its bad rap, goldenrod is not actually the source of fall allergies (that designation belongs to ragweed). Its beautiful yellow flowers attract butterflies and brighten a garden.
Blooms Multiple Seasons
Ajuga (Bugleweed) – Sun or Shade, Average Soil
This plant crowds out weeds as a ground cover and blooms deep blue in spring and summer.
Asclepias (Milkweed, Butterfly Flower) – Full Sun, Tolerates Dry Soil
Milkweed blooms summer and fall and is necessary for Monarch butterflies, since it is the only plant on which they will lay their eggs.
Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss, “Jack Frost”) – Full or Partial Shade, Average Soil
Silvery leaves and blue flowers that show up in spring and summer make this deer-resistant plant a great addition to a perennial garden.
Leucanthemum (Becky or Shasta Daisy) – Full or Partial Sun, Tolerates Dry Soil
Pretty white daisies with a yellow center, these are eye-catching and excellent for attracting butterflies.
Phlox Paniculata (Garden Phlox) – Full Sun or Partial Shade, Average Soil
With colors ranging from white and pink to purple, phlox is an excellent ground cover that becomes loaded with flowers.
Salvia Elegans (Pineapple Sage) – Full Sun, Average Soil
Named for the fragrance of its leaves, this plant’s bright red flowers are enjoyed by all sorts of flying creatures, including hummingbirds and butterflies.
Xachillea Millefolium (Yarrow) – Full Sun, Average Soil
Available in white, red, gold, or other colors, Yarrow is a tolerant plant that is popular with beneficial insects and excellent as a dried flower.
These perennials will provide your garden with the blooms of color to attract birds and bees and delight the eye from early spring until late fall.