There are many perennial flowers you can plant in your garden. Below we’ve put togther a list of 20+ perennial flower favorites that are unfussy, long lived and year after year pump out foliage and flowers.
What is a perennial plant? Put simply; these are herbaceous garden plants with a lifespan of three years or more.
The lifespan of herbaceous perennials may vary significantly depending upon environmental considerations such as:
- Soil condition
- Disease problems or insect infestation
Nonetheless, for the most part, perennial plants are hardy, easy to care for and prolific in the production of beautiful blossoms and attractive foliage for years on end.
In this article we provide brief descriptions of some of the most popular perennial plants to grace your easy-care garden.
Read on to learn more about the top favorite perennials of master gardeners.
Lilies: Asiatic Lily, Daylilies, Peruvian Lily
The Asiatic lily is a great choice for lots of bright colors all summer long. These flowering perennials grow to be two or three feet high and make lovely, long-lasting additions to cut flower bouquets.
These lilies come in a wide variety of colors. Plant a mass of one color or mix and match white, cream, yellow, orange, rose and purple. There are also several attractive bi-color varieties.
Plant Asiatic Lily bulbs in autumn or in springtime in a bright, sunny spot with well-drained soil. With very little care, these vigorous plants will grow larger and spread enthusiastically from one year to the next.
Daylilies are a versatile lily available in a huge number of flower types and colors. These hardy bulbs thrive under almost any circumstances and need very little care.
They do best in full sunshine, but they will flower (not as abundantly) in light or partial shade. Some varieties bloom sporadically throughout the summer months. Others put on one big show of blossoms a year.
These drought tolerant lilies are accepting of almost any soil condition as long as it’s not too wet and boggy. They do well in a light shade garden.
Peruvian Lily is a vigorous evergreen hybrid is available in several color variations ranging from soft yellows and pinks to shades of lavender and purple with darker flecks of color. The plant attains a height of two or three feet and blooms in the mid-to-late summer. Great as cut flowers.
Hybrid Perennial Sage
Hybrid perennial sage is a good, cold-hardy herb garden denizen. This smaller plant also features pretty grayish-green foliage and lovely flower spikes that only grow to be a foot or two high. The flowers come in shades of white, blue and purple.
Pineapple Sage is so-called because its leaves smell like ripe pineapple. In addition to this attractive feature, this variety of salvia also produces large, showy spikes of vivid red flowers. Golden Delicious is an especially popular version of Pineapple Sage. It attains a height of one-to-three feet and presents a brilliant display of fire-engine-red blossoms on a backdrop of chartreuse foliage.
Salvia leucantha is another very popular type of sage that is native to Mexico and South America. It is often called Mexican Bush Sage. It is winter hardy in zones 8-10, but it can survive colder winters if planted in a sheltered area and cut back to the ground before the first frost.
This salvia grows to be two or three feet high and produces masses of white and purple blossoms that can attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. The soft, grayish-green foliage is quite attractive. [source]
Jerusalem sage is a native of the Mediterranean that is very common on the west coast, but it could easily be grown in cooler settings.
This moisture conserving plant grows in a 2′-4′ mound and features attractive, furry, lance-shaped leaves in a pretty shade of silvery gray. Its blossoms are yellow and grow in spikes. It’s a great addition to an herb garden and looks especially attractive as a backdrop to lavender.
Russian Sage is a big, bold plant standing five feet high and spreading to a width of about three feet. Because it is so big and tall, it is a good choice along a fence line, at the back of your herb garden or as an individual specimen plant.
The plant produces masses of tiny blue flowers in late summer. Russian sage is often confused for (and sometimes used as a substitute for) lavender. It likes the same sort of bright, sunny, airy conditions and prefers gravelly, poor soil.
Lavender is not a sage or salvia, but it is related. Lavender is a popular semi-woody perennial that can act as a shrub. The plant features pretty grayish-green foliage and can be an evergreen in mild conditions. Despite its name, there are white, blue, pink and purple blooming lavender plants.
As a member of the mint family, lavender has square stems and produces richly scented essential oil that is useful for tea, cooking, personal care, household products and creating craft items such as potpourri. The plant prefers full sun and soil with a slightly alkaline pH. [source]
Catmint is a variety of catnip, but it is not the same plant. Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) will not drive your cat wild, nor will it attract wandering cats, so it is safe to plant it in your herb garden.
While catnip literally grows like a weed and doesn’t have much in the way of flowers, catmint (also called Nepeta) is another story. Nepeta is heat and drought tolerant and resistant to most diseases and pests (including being deer-resistant plants). So if you want a sure fire way to stop the deer damage, you may want to get a catmint.
These deer resistant perennial plants grow in low, tidy mounds and puts on a nice show of soft, grayish-green foliage early in springtime. In late spring, during early summer and into the autumn, it produces masses of soft lavender colored flowers.
There’s no need to cut the foliage back for winter as it adds winter interest with pleasing, silvery-gray leaves. There are several varieties of catmint, each presenting slightly different foliage and growth habits and with slightly different requirements.
Overall, these deer-resistant perennials are hardy and easy care, and the choice in varieties makes it easy to find just the right plant for your setting. [source]
Wild & Naturalized Flowers
Yarrow is a hardy, attractive perennial flower that does well throughout the United States. Both foliage and blossoms are attractive and fragrant. The leaves are fern-like and spicy smelling.
These deer-proof plants come in shades of very dark green and grayish-green. There are several varieties of yarrow, and the flat-topped clusters of blooms can be found in shades of white, pink, red and yellow. One very popular variety is Moonshine Yarrow, which produces copious numbers of cheerful yellow blossoms. All varieties stand about two feet high.
Coreopsis is another plant that comes in many colors, varieties, and sizes. The variety referred to as “threadleaf” produces soft, fern-like foliage and a blanket of small daisy-like yellow or pink blossoms throughout the summer months.
Larger (grandiflora) varieties grow two or three feet high and produce big, showy blossoms in shades of yellow and orange. A lower mounding variety called Mango Punch produces orange flowers with a red blush.
Forget Me Not flower is a pretty, self-seeding favorite available in several different varieties. The plants grow in low mounds with pretty gray-green foliage and abundant clusters of dazzling blue flowers with yellow centers.
They make a great ground cover mixed into a spring-blooming bulb garden. These favorite plants are not strictly perennial. Instead, they are considered biennial, meaning that the original plant lives for a couple of years.
Because these plants are prolific self-seeders, they do come back year after year on their own. You can always plant more by hand-sowing seed, or the hardy volunteer seedlings can easily be moved to new locations when they appear in the springtime.
Gaillardia is also known as Blanket Flower or Indian Blanket. It is a perennial wildflower native to North America. It is heat tolerant and drought resistant and does very well in poor soil.
The daisy-like flowers are about three inches wide and come in both single and double configurations in shades of gold, red, bronze and/or brown. They have a continuous bloom time throughout the summer and well into early autumn. Several varieties range in height from one foot to three feet tall.
Gaura is a lovely, hardy Texas and Louisiana native that stands between two and five feet high. It produces abundant clusters of butterfly-like flowers in white (Whirling Butterflies) or pink (Siskiyou Pink) atop long, wand-like stem. The plants’ three-inch-long, lance-shaped leaves are also visually appealing in dark green with occasional maroon spotting. [source]
Sea Holly is available in about a dozen varieties. All sport pretty, purple/blue thistle-like flowers and attractive foliage. All are drought resistant. Most varieties have slightly fuzzy, grayish green foliage. Some have variegated foliage. They grow to a height of two or three feet.
These types of plants (Eryngium) make an excellent choice for dry, sandy, poor soil conditions and harsh sun. They do not flourish when planted in rich soil. The flowers look lovely in bouquets and dry flower arrangements. Handle with care as they are a bit prickly. [source]
Echinacea is also commonly called Purple Coneflower or just Coneflower. This big, pretty prairie wildflower is drought and heat tolerant and produces lots of lovely, useful white, pink, purple, peach, orange or yellow blossoms throughout the summer months. They are also great for deer control.
The deer proof Coneflowers stand about three feet high and can be harvested to add to bouquets of cut flowers or to dry to make a healthy, immune-system-boosting tea. These cheery, easy-to-please perennials do well in full sun and poor soil with very little watering.
Hardy Asters are a classic choice for a fall blooming garden. Their star-shaped flowers burst forth late in the summer and into the autumn months in shades of pink, blue, purple and bright red. They make nice, long-lasting cut flowers. There are several different species, and some can attain heights of five feet while others are well suited as bedding and perennial border plants.
Known as Bear’s Breeches or Acanthus Mollis reaches 3′-4′ feet tall in sun or partial shade.
Makes vigorous heavy growth, large dark green, heart-shaped leaves. A summer bloomer with erect spikes of large densely flowered purplish-white flowers.
Grows best in rich, well-drained soil. Use as a border plant. Good as a container plant and in flower arrangements.
Gloriosa Daisies are hybrid perennials with a fairly short life span. The same plant may not return for more than two years, but luckily these plants are enthusiastic self-seeders, so if the parent plant dies plenty of replacements stand at the ready to take its place.
Most varieties stand between three and four feet high and spread about a foot-and-a-half. There are some dwarf varieties (Toto and Goldilocks) that attain a maximum height of ten inches tall. The flowers may be 2-4 inches wide with petals radiating from a deep, chocolate colored center. They come in a wide variety of colors from light yellow to dark burgundy.
Red Dragon is as dramatic as the name suggests. This plant grows in mounds about fifteen inches high and spreads about two feet. Its leaves are thick, coarse and dark green. Bright red double blossom sway at the tips of tall flower spikes. There is also a yellow variety known as Lady Stratheden. Both types are members of the Geum chiloense family, and both present a delicate, wild-flower-like appearance.
Heuchera is a low-growing plant that spreads nicely to make a ground cover in shady places. There are at least a dozen varieties, all with very interesting leaves ranging in shades from a silvery green to burgundy. The leaves are heavily veined and very attractive. Pretty, bell-shaped flowers of white or pink grow atop erect, slender stems of about fifteen inches high.
Penstemon is a bushy perennial that makes a nice single specimen plant. Standing about three feet high, this pretty Missouri native produces abundant trumpet-shaped blooms in white, pink, blue, lavender, deep purple and several shades of red. The stamen of the blossoms sports a tuft of hair, which accounts for this plant’s common name – Beard Tongue. [source]
Sedum telephium is commonly called Stonecrop or Live-Forever. It is an exceptionally hardy perennial that hails from Japan, China, and Eastern Europe. The plant stands about two-and-a-half feet high and spreads about two feet. It produces masses of pink flowers that are very attractive to butterflies.
The blossoms transition to a beautiful rust color that provides interest in the autumn months. This showy perennial prefers poor soil, bright sun and sparing watering habits. [source]
Mediterranean or Albanian Spurge
Mediterranean or Albanian Spurge (Euphorbia characias wulfenii) is a dome-shaped bush that grows to a height and width of about four feet. Its stems are upright, and its leaves are an attractive shade of bluish green.
Late in the winter or in the early spring, interesting clusters or bracts of chartreuse flowers appear.
The individual flowers are cup-like, not petaled. Like all spurges, this plant exudes milky white, poisonous sap when cut or broken. Be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves when pruning or handling. [source]
Veronica Spicata or Speedwell
Veronica spicata [speedwell] grow easily in sunny areas in well-drained soil enriched with compost or rotted manure. Their distinctive flower spires provide accent and rich color from spring to late summer.
Water regularly during periods of extended drought. Woody growth is often a result from the lack of moisture.
Propagate by division or seeds. Divide most species every two or three years. They make great companions for garden garden phlox.
Excellent in the rock or wall garden, also used for edgings or planted around the outskirts of flagstone terraces.
More Perennials For The Landscape
- Aegopodium podagraria
- Ajuga reptans
- Alcea rosea
- Alchemilla mollis
- Amsonia tabernaemontana
- Achillea filipendulina
- Astilbe X arendsii (plant)
- Cimicifuga racemosa
- Lychnis coronaria (rose campion)
- Scabiosa atropurpurea
Perennials Provide Almost Set-It-And-Forget-It Gardening!
If you want an easy-care, colorful garden throughout the spring, summer, and autumn, you can’t go wrong with perennial flowers. Take a little time to select plants that will bloom at different times to give you continuous color.
As with any plant, getting started can present some challenges; however, once your perennial collection is established you (and your local birds, butterflies, and bees) will enjoy a riot of scents and color throughout the growing season.