It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to picking out plants for your garden.
While annual plants are a great way to learn, and to discover what colors and forms you like in your own garden, it can get expensive, very quickly, even if you grow them from seed.
While the seed packets are a lot cheaper than buying plug or mature plants, you still have to factor in the cost of the compost, (which is probably the most expensive part, and it doesn’t nearly stretch as far as you think), the pots, and the electricity, if you use a heated propagator or grow lamp.
But what about perennial plants?
What Are Perennials?
Perennial plants are perfect when you want flowers to grace your garden year after year, without having to sow more seeds.
While annual plants only last for a single year, perennial plants will come back every year and flower within that year.
Largely, with perennial plants, you only need to buy a few, and then you can propagate the rest, but this does depend on the type you go for, as some are easily propagated, and some are very difficult.
Some will even spread a little more with each passing year by themselves, in which case you’ll need to divide them every few years to keep them healthy.
Quite a few different perennials will die off during autumn and winter, reappearing in spring. Some keep their form and foliage all year round.
It is worth noting that annual flowers do produce more blooms than perennials, as perennials need to devote more of their energy into growing a decent root system, while annuals only last for a single season.
Flowering Perennials You Should Grow At Least Once
Also known as false goat’s beard, astilbe are perfect if you want to get a lot of color into shady areas of your garden, as they produce feathery flowers which are incredibly vivid.
You can get them in shades of pink, purple, red, and white, and these beautiful blooms will attract a lot of pollinators into your garden.
While astilbe does well in both partial or full shade, these plants still need well-draining soil – especially so, if the sun cannot reach them – in order to prevent root rot.
You’ll see these feathery blooms appear from late spring well into summer, and the plants themselves can reach a maximum of 2 feet tall.
This perennial lives up to its name, with ‘poppable’ flower buds, also known as Platycodon grandiflorus.
These flower buds soon open into huge, bell-shaped blooms, usually blue or purple. They bloom from June until August, in either full sun or partial shade, though as with most plants, you’ll get more flowers, the more sunlight you give them.
Depending on the conditions, the height can range anywhere between a single foot to just under 3 feet tall, and spreading anywhere from a single foot to 1.5 feet wide.
The soil needs to drain well in order to accommodate balloon flowers (see also How To Grow Balloon Flowers), as they cannot tolerate constantly-wet soil.
Balloon flowers are very easy to grow straight from seeds, but transplanting can be a little tricky, so plan to sow them where you want them to grow.
They also need staking when they get larger, as the stems aren’t robust enough to support them, especially in windy or exposed areas.
Part of the Monarda genus, bee balm (see also Bee Balm Types And Care Guide) is actually a herb, used both in culinary and medicinal applications, but you might assume it was only ornamental because of its unusual appearance.
Bee balm is instantly recognizable for its spiky flowers in a range of colors, attracting a huge amount of attention both in terms of planting and being a pollinator magnet.
Bee balm will thrive in both a sunny position as well as partial shade, and will treat your garden to bright red, purple, pink, or white spiky flowers during summer.
It is worth mentioning that bee balm can reach 4 feet tall, and up to 3 feet wide, so plant them in the back of a bed, or keep them in a container if space is limited.
Bee balm grows quickly, making it perfect for seasonal screening.
Also known as Campanula, bellflowers can come in both dwarf and standard varieties, as large as 6 feet tall in the right conditions.
Bellflowers are mainly bell-shaped, as you can guess, although some varieties do open out to become nearly flat, star-shaped heads instead.
If you’re after some ground cover, dwarf bellflower varieties grow as mats, which help fill in the gaps during the summer, but most cannot withstand winter, so plan accordingly.
Bellflowers will happily grow in most soil types and positions within your garden, as long as they manage to get some sunlight during the day.
Bellflowers come in pinks, whites, or blues, and you can also get biennial varieties.
Gaillardia, or the blanket flower (see also Blanket Flower Care), is a perfect flower for summer. While they grow relatively slowly before they get established, these beautiful flowers can ‘blanket’ an area, and cover it in a range of red, yellow, and orange shades.
You can grow them directly from seed, or you can also buy them as plug plants and grow them on.
It’s cheaper to grow them from seed, and you will get more out of these short-lived blooms than if you buy them while they are in flower.
In full sunlight in well-draining soil, they may reach a maximum height of 45cm, spreading slightly more.
These are flowers that like to bask in the sun’s heat, so the more sunlight you can give them, the better.
Blanket flowers will flower all the way through summer until the first frosts. You will need to water them regularly to keep the plants producing more flowers, but this isn’t a hardship when you consider what you get in return.
Lamprocapnos spectabilis, or the bleeding heart flower, is guaranteed to stop anyone in their tracks. The flowers take the shape of – well – exactly what they sound like, flowers that look like bleeding hearts.
These unusual flowers cascade along arched stems that can reach 15 inches tall, making for a great display in any shady area of your garden.
Depending on the variety, you can get bicolored flowers, usually pink and white, or red and white, as well as fully white.
Bleeding hearts are not demanding perennials, but they do need good-quality soil which is moist most of the time, as well as partial shade.
Once you plant one bleeding heart, and it has flowered, you’ll notice that some will self-seed across your garden.
While these plants are not invasive, it’s worth knowing, as they are dangerous if ingested, so keep an eye on pets and children.
If you’d prefer a spring-flowering perennial that will be happy in shade, bugleweed, or Ajuga, is a good choice.
The foliage is a rich green which takes on a soft sheen, and from mid-spring onward, you’ll be treated to a fabulous display of vivid blue or purple flowers.
You will need to keep a watchful eye over this plant, however, as it can carpet any surrounding area with ease, but that might be a look you’re going for, if you’re after a blue-carpeted woodland floor, for example.
While these perennials aren’t cold tolerant, you can either grow them as annuals in colder climates, or overwinter them to make sure they make it to the following year.
Canna lilies are a must for anyone who wants a particularly tropical feel in their garden (see also Exotic Flowering Plants), adding both height and color.
Depending on the variety you go for, they can reach anywhere from 2 to 6 feet tall, and the leaves may be a vibrant green, a dark purple, or either with white stripes.
The flowers are also show-stoppers, usually available in shades of red, yellow and orange.
The only maintenance you really need to do is to deadhead any spent blooms, and take them inside once winter arrives.
While they attract plenty of attention from both pets and children, they are safe to have around both.
Nepeta faassenii, or catmint, is perfect if you live somewhere warm, which goes a long time without any rainfall, as catmint withstands drought.
They offset the rich tones of other drought-tolerant plants perfectly, as the flowers of catmint are purple or white.
They are a great option if you don’t want to use lavender, especially if you don’t like the scent.
As catmint stays fairly low to the ground, you can use it as ground cover, or as a border plant to mark where your flower beds end, and to keep the soil in place.
Catmint has a sprawling growth, which softens the look of your planting scheme, preventing it from looking too formal, or ‘standing to attention’, if you like your garden looking neat.
While most catmint hate any other light levels other than full sun, you can use Nepeta subsessilus in very light shade if full sunlight is not possible.
Be prepared for your garden to have a few visitors when you plant catmint, namely the furry, bird-terrorizing kind. Another name for catmint is catnip, and this magnetism ranges from cat to cat.
Some will outright lie flat on catmint, while others may chew it a little, and some avoid it altogether. If you’re not a cat person, or if you have dogs that don’t take kindly to cats being in their space, it’s wise to avoid this plant entirely.
One of the prettiest flowering vine you’ll find which is completely non-invasive, clematis is perfect for any bare trellis, fence, or side of your house that needs a bit of color.
You can get clematis which flowers at different times of the year, including autumn and winter-flowering types, which ensures your garden will have colorful blooms year-round.
Clematis is a very versatile plant, as the flowers come in pretty much any color you can think of, and many shapes.
Some prefer full sunlight, while others thrive in partial shade, but all of them like well-draining soil, with their roots being in shade, and the flowers in sun.
Clematis, like roses, will last for years to come, but there is a little trade-off. They are somewhat slow to get established, but once they settle into their new home, you’ll be treated to fabulous displays of color.
You can also use clematis to screen off parts of the garden, especially if you’re overlooked by neighbors.
It’s a non-offensive way to ensure you have some privacy in your own little oasis, without upsetting anyone by putting up a huge fence.
You can grow different varieties up the same structure for year-round blooms and interest, as well as companion planting them with roses to create a whimsical, fairy tale effect in your garden.
Also known as tickseed, this is one of the easiest perennials to start off with.
It’s very easy to grow it from seed, producing vivid blooms in shades of sunshine-yellow and vivid maroon, and these flowers are a favorite of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies alike.
You can sow the seeds straight into the soil if you prefer. Just make sure you plant them into well-draining soil, where it will get full sunlight for as long as possible.
Coreopsis or tickseed will brighten up anywhere you choose to plant them, whether that’s part of a large border, or in a small container garden.
Also known as heuchera, coral bells will pile on the color into your garden, in both the striking leaves as well as the vivid flowers which tower over the foliage.
The leaves can be a deep crimson, purple, or an almost luminous green, and the flowers cluster on flower spikes, usually in shades of red.
They are a favorite for both gardens which bask in sunlight, and those which are shrouded in shade for at least part of the day.
For heuchera to thrive, keep the water moist, and plant it away from direct sunlight, especially in warmer climates.
If you want a perennial which will provide your garden with an explosion of color from spring all the way to autumn, you can’t go wrong with daylilies.
Although each flower is short-lived, sometimes only lasting for a single day, the plant can produce one for every day of the flowering season, making for an impressive and ever-changing display.
It also helps that daylilies (see also Daylily Symbolism) are resistant to both frosty and dry climates, able to withstand all but both extremes.
All daylilies need from you is well-draining soil in the sunniest position possible. The flowers can come in red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, white, or a combination.
They also attract plenty of butterflies into your garden.
It can be difficult to find flowers which produce truly blue flowers, but delphiniums are definitely one of those.
What the flowers lack in longevity, they make up for in color as well as the number of blooms per flower spike, and depending on the variety these spikes can be anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall.
These striking flowers will last significantly longer in mild weather, where the soil is damp but drains well, in a sunny position.
You do need to keep in mind that these flower spikes are delicate, so plant them somewhere sheltered, staking in between the plant to provide it with support, allowing it to move with the wind instead of snapping.
If blue isn’t your favorite color, but you still like the unusual stalk bearing more flowers than it can possibly hold up without help, delphiniums also come in white, pink, red, and purple.
It’s also worth planting them with flowers that will come out around the same time, but ones that will last significantly longer, and others that will start blooming after the delphiniums have finished.
This will ensure that you don’t have any empty planting spaces in your garden once the delphiniums have finished.
If you have pets or children, keep delphiniums out of reach, as they are poisonous.
While the flowers of dianthus can look very delicate, don’t let them fool you. Dianthus is a tough little plant, and it will flower from May until October in the right conditions.
They are available in many types, including annual varieties, biennials, and perennials, the last of which are semi-evergreen or completely evergreen.
Some are very compact, making the perfect ground cover or accent at the front of borders or containers.
Flowers are usually single or double, carrying a lovely fragrance, which you can make the most of by planting them near window sills, doors, or patio seating areas.
If you cut off any spent flowers, you’ll notice that dianthus will flower repeatedly through their extended flowering season (see also Flowers To Extend The Flowering Season).
These beautiful blooms come in white, baby pink, crimson, and deep pink, or a combination of these.
Also known as the coneflower, these eye-catching flowers come in as many colors as you can imagine, and they’re often bi-colored.
The common name, coneflower, describes the shape of the central eye, which is cone-shaped, and surrounded by rays of colorful petals.
Planting coneflowers in your garden will not only provide it with a mass of color, but it will also attract plenty of pollinators into your garden, helping boost its overall ecosystem.
Coneflowers need full sunlight for as long as possible, and well-draining soil in order to thrive, preferably sandy.
You can also plant them into containers if the soil in your garden doesn’t have good drainage, as containers have less water retention than the earth.
Most coneflowers reach about 3 feet tall, and they will bloom pretty much continuously throughout summer and into autumn.
Leaving the seed heads on once all the flowers have finished is a good idea, as it provides food for goldfinches and other birds.
Forget-Me-Nots (see also Forget-Me-Not Types And Care) are instantly recognizable for their petite flowers made up of 5 petals, usually in blue, surrounding a yellow or white eye.
Some stay very low to the ground, while others can reach a foot in height, and you’ll notice that once you have Forget-Me-Nots in your garden, they will start to crop up in random places, as their seed dispersal range is larger than you might think.
This can make for some accidental but all-together brilliant planting combinations that you’d never think of yourself, contrasting the vivid blue of the Forget-Me-Nots against more conventional ornamental flowers, such as dahlias, coneflowers, carnations, and more.
If you don’t like the way they spread, you can pull them up with no problems, and replant them elsewhere.
Most Forget-Me-Nots prefer partial shade, but they can also flourish in full sunlight. All require well-draining soil for healthy growth.
They are also the perfect planting option if you have pets or children visiting your garden, as Forget-Me-Nots are non-toxic.
There’s a variety of garden phlox (see also Phlox Flower Symbolism) for every green space imaginable, as they come in creeping types, compact, and much taller forms.
Most are heavily fragranced when you get up close, and these beautiful flowers form in tightly-packed clusters of vivid color.
You can get them in shades of red, pink, white, purple, orange, or a combination of these.
Most garden phlox will thrive in partial shade or full sunlight, in well-draining soil. The taller varieties are perfect for filling out beds during the summer months, dying back completely once they have finished flowering, allowing room for the late-flowering plants to bloom.
As they are easy to hybridize, more and more color and form options are becoming available, so there’s bound to be one which will perfectly suit your garden.
It also helps that garden phlox is non-toxic, so it’s the perfect choice for a family-friendly garden.
Also known as the cranesbill, the geranium, despite the soft appearance of its flowers, and the delicate-looking leaves, will withstand dry, hot climates with ease.
Long dry spells don’t bother these plants, and in fact, they prefer it. Geraniums are one of the least-water demanding plants which still produce fantastic color and plenty of flowers.
This makes them especially suitable for people who don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to their gardens, or they live somewhere hot and dry, and need a plant that’s suitable for that climate.
There are many types of geraniums available, and more cultivars are being created all the time.
You can get ones with bright green leaves, or extremely dark foliage, ones which climb, trail, or stand upright perfectly on their own. Some which grow very tall, and some which are perfect ground cover.
The flowers themselves come in shades of red, white, pink, purple, and some varieties are bi-colored.
You may or may not be familiar with the allium, which not only provides your garden with rich color in tiny clusters of white, red, purple, or blue flowers, but what about giant alliums?
Giant alliums can reach a height of 6 feet, and the huge, globular clusters of flowers can reach 6 inches in diameter, introducing impressive and architectural interest into any garden.
All alliums are perennial, and if they are cared for properly, giant alliums can flower for more than one season in a single year.
They need little maintenance, provided that you plant the bulbs properly in autumn, about 6 inches below the soil’s surface, with the point of the bulb facing the sky.
How you place your alliums within your garden is up to you, whether you choose to create a huge allium display or to compliment or contrast other plants, make sure you give them full sunlight for as long as possible.
Combine this with freely-draining soil, and these magical plants will not only treat your garden to fabulous displays of color and form, but they will also keep slugs and snails away from neighboring plants.
Because they are related to onions and garlic, they are just as undemanding and robust, but their smell repels those pests which can absolutely decimate your garden, so the more you plant, the better your plants will fare.
The scent of the alliums – which as humans, we can’t really detect on the same level as slugs – repels snails and slugs, and they will avoid anything planted close to these alliums, so plan your garden scheme accordingly.
Giant alliums look perfect against both contrasting and complimenting colors and forms, such as dahlias, coneflowers, tulips, lilies, and the possibilities really are endless.
Once the giant alliums have finished, leave their seed heads on the plant. Not only will this provide food for the wildlife in your garden, you can also cut them once they’ve completely dried, and the dried heads are perfect for vases.
For perfect winter blooms, you can’t go wrong with choosing hellebore.
They are perfect for those tricky spots under large trees or shrubs, as they thrive in shade, but they still need some sunlight in order to thrive.
Hellebores produce their striking flowers in winter through early spring, but these flowers can last on the plant for much longer.
Their leaves are also beautiful, only adding to the overall effect and color that this plant provides.
The blooms come in many shades of pink, purple, white, green, and red, or a combination of these. Most point towards the floor, so you may not see them at first glance.
If you fancy creating your very own hellebore hybrid, this is also easy to do, and you can collect the new seed within a year.
Just be aware that if you do want to have your own hellebore in your garden, make sure they are well away from pets and children, as hellebores are poisonous.
A beautiful perennial that only flowers for a short amount of time, the hollyhock still shouldn’t be dismissed easily, as the huge, hibiscus-like flowers are a perfect show all on their own.
They’ve been a staple in cottage garden design schemes for hundreds of years, and they are making a comeback. Older varieties produce single flowers in shades of red, pink, white, and yellow.
Newer varieties have been created to bear double-blooms, which look fantastic, almost resembling pom-poms. Some of these newer cultivars are also bi-colored.
To get as many flowers as possible out of a hollyhock plant, put them in a position that gets full sun for as long as possible.
While it needs to be within well-draining soil, this soil also needs to contain a good amount of nutrients, and if it is dry, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the hollyhocks when it comes to watering.
Long ago, hollyhocks were planted in front of privies not only to screen them, but also to act as a signpost, and prevent any embarrassment in asking where the toilet was.
Wear gloves if you plan on handling hollyhocks. While they aren’t poisonous, they can cause skin irritation, so it’s best not to risk any.
If you’d prefer your perennials with more spectacular foliage, you cannot go wrong with hostas.
Hostas produce huge, architectural leaves, sometimes in one color, or they can be bi-colored, depending on the variety.
You can also get dwarf hostas, if you prefer their shapes in a more miniature form. The foliage from both types is perfect for an accent in a flower arrangement.
If you prefer, you can also grow some hostas indoors.
One thing to note is that hostas do need some shade in order to thrive, whether that’s dappled or only partial light, and this does make them more vulnerable to slugs, snails, and other pests.
Grow alliums near hostas, and this will go a long way to help prevent the leaves looking like Swiss cheese after the slugs have gotten into them.
You can also water them with a diluted garlic mixture, which will also keep pests away.
Hostas also develop spikes of striking white flowers, which only adds to the interest they create.
The only maintenance you really need to do for hostas is to keep an eye for slugs, and every few years divide the hostas so that the clumps continue to grow vigorously.
Hydrangeas are the perfect focal point for large borders, producing huge clusters of white, pink, blue, purple, or green blooms.
Most hydrangea blooms will change color to reflect the soil – aluminum being present will mean blue flowers, and soil with high lime content and no aluminum will ensure pink blooms.
It’s worth noting that the pH of your water can also affect the color, as it will alter the color of the blooms.
If your hydrangeas live near concrete or pavements, this also has an effect, as lime can seep into the soil, turning them pink or red.
While it’s difficult to encourage a certain type of color to bloom in the ground, you can do this in containers if you want to experiment, as you can control the type of soil the hydrangea will live in.
White blooms don’t change color like the pink, purple and blue flowers do, though they can take on pink tinges. This is also true of green hydrangea flowers.
As the earth can be a mixture, the same hydrangea plant can feature several flower colors at once.
These fantastic plants can get to about 5 feet tall, spreading about the same.
Partial or full sunlight is preferred in well-draining soil, and if you give them the right conditions, they can live for over 50 years.
Delosperma, or the ice plant, is a beautiful perennial which is also classed as a succulent.
These plants don’t get very large, at a maximum of 8 inches tall, reaching 4 feet wide, and they are good in containers, as they need dry soil which drains well.
The succulent foliage is usually evergreen, and the ice plant also produces vivid flowers which appear all the way through summer, and the best part of autumn.
Different varieties of delosperma produce different flower colors, so plan ahead if you’ve got a specific theme in mind already. You can also get them in mixed groups, too.
Delosperma are nearly guaranteed to thrive in full sunlight and freely-draining soil, especially if they go for long periods of time without water.
This makes them perfect for adding some more life and color into rockeries, or otherwise poor soil (see also Rockrose Plants) where other plants simply won’t grow.
The flowers are also capable of completely carpeting the foliage, making a perfect, uplifting display for any hot or dry garden.
If you don’t have these conditions in your garden, you can also treat them as a summer annual, or keep them away from rain.
The common name ice plant refers to its high cold tolerance, making it ideal for exposed areas which don’t get a lot of rainfall.
While they can withstand very light shade, you won’t see nearly as many flowers as these petite plants are capable of.
There’s an iris plant for every color scheme and garden theme imaginable. There have been countless hybrids created within at least 200 species of iris, and they are usually tricolored, too.
Iris plants are instantly recognizable, both for their sword-like leaves, and their gorgeous, six-petalled blooms, which feature standard petals which are upright, and fall petals which curve toward the earth.
Irises can broadly be divided into three different categories: those which are bearded, featuring hairs on the fall petals, beardless, which only has smooth petals, and crested, which feature ridged petals.
Bearded is among the most popular, valued for its unusual appearance, while the crested iris isn’t frequently found in many gardens.
Most irises prefer full sunlight in well-draining soil, but you can also get irises which thrive in boggy areas, and partial shade.
It largely depends on the type of iris you go for and the variety you choose, as to the conditions it needs to thrive.
Nearly all irises will need dividing after a few years in order to keep them flowering.
Alchemilla mollis or Lady’s mantle is perfect for gardens which don’t get a lot of sun, as they thrive in partial shade.
They especially like rocky soil, where they will grow with no problems in exposed areas, as they are quite hardy.
Bear in mind that lady’s mantle doesn’t do well in very hot weather, as you’ll notice the foliage will burn. Keep it somewhere shaded and cool if possible.
You can plant it in sunlight, as long as the sunlight isn’t too fierce, for example, if your garden gets only sunlight in the morning.
Lady’s mantle does need quite a bit of water, but it will withstand drier conditions if it is placed in shade.
If your garden is situated somewhere that gets winters, it will die back in the cold, and reappear during spring.
While it’s usually grown for its foliage, it does also produce lime-green flowers which tower above the leaves.
Lamb’s ear, or Stachys byzantina, is a part of the mint family, also known as wooly hedgenettle.
It’s instantly recognizable for the silvery hair which covers all parts of the foliage, giving it a pale appearance.
It’s grown ornamentally in many parts of the world, and in some cases it has escaped and naturalized in the landscape instead of just in someone’s garden.
Provided the plant is given the right conditions, Lamb’s ear can and will quickly outgrow any container or bed that you put it in, so it does need dividing occasionally.
If you don’t want any more Lamb’s ear than you already have, you can pot it up and give it to someone who does want one, or you can compost it.
Lamb’s ear also flowers in the later days of spring, running into early summer, producing flower spikes with petite purple blooms. These pale colors complement the foliage well.
The leaves themselves can reach 10cm long, and the flower stems can reach a maximum height of 22cm long. While these stems also produce leaves, they are much smaller than the ones produced at the base of the plant.
They also make the perfect contrast to very vivid, huge blooms such as dahlias, tulips, and coreopsis.
If you prefer a more muted color palette in your garden, they also make a great choice for other pale foliage, or nearly completely white gardens.
In fierce winters, Lamb’s ear will die back, before producing new leaves in spring, but they tend to be evergreen in warmer conditions.
The common name comes from the silvery hairs, combined with the curve of the leaves.
Lamb’s ear plants attract plenty of pollinators, and they are a favorite of Wool Carder bees, which use the hair on the foliage for their nests.
During the morning, the leaves are also a precious source of water for pollinators, as condensation forms on the hairs.
You may be surprised to learn that lavender is actually part of the mint plant family.
This gorgeous plant has a range of uses, not just in gardening, but also in cosmetics, herbal remedies, and culinary applications.
Lavender plants are a real magnet for bees and other pollinators. Plant it in your garden, and you’ll soon notice more bees in your garden than before, helping to boost the health of your garden, while also making sure your local bees have enough to thrive.
Lavender is also a very drought tolerant plant, capable of withstanding long dry spells. This is not only useful if you live in a hot climate, but also for the climate-conscious gardener, who wants to reduce the amount of water they use.
Plant lavender in full sunlight, somewhere that they’ll be able to bask in the sun for as long as possible.
If you love the smell of lavender, plant it by your porch, near windows, or seating areas, to really get the best out of the scent.
You can also use it as a border plant (see also Best Border Plants) or a hedge, if you prefer. Just make sure that there’s enough air circulation around the leaves, so that this limits any risk of fungal infections.
Make sure that the soil drains well, as lavender is vulnerable to root rot.
While lavender is harmful to dogs and cats, you don’t normally see these pets ingesting them, but it is worth knowing, and keeping an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t eat lavender.
Penstemon can be confused with ornamental sage from a distance, as both produce tall spikes of flowers which cluster in vivid hues.
Penstemon is sometimes labeled as beard tongue or Palmer’s penstemon, and they are grown across the world not only for their abundant blooms which last for a significantly long period, but also for the bees.
These gorgeous flowers appear in June, and can flower all the way through until October, depending on the weather, and any early frosts.
There are different types of penstemon to choose from, some of which prefer cooler temperatures, well-suited to alpine planting schemes, but most love sunny positions.
If you’re looking for additional color in late summer, and you don’t seem to have nearly as many flowers as you thought you would, buying penstemon at this stage is a great way to fill in the gaps, especially as they should return the following year.
Penstemon come in nearly every shade of pink, white, red, purple, and blue, and newer varieties are also bi-colored.
Penstemons are fairly undemanding. They need full sunlight to produce the most blooms possible, but they will also tolerate light shaded areas.
They require well-draining, moist soil, which makes them perfect for the middle of a large border, where water can be retained quite easily.
During the height of summer, it’s best to feed them once a week, along with any other perennials flowering at this time, such as dahlias or delphiniums.
While you might be tempted to cut off any spent flower spikes as they all start to die down, hold off on cutting back the flowers in autumn, and wait until the frosts have passed in the following year.
The old growth will help shield the new growth from cold temperatures, just like you should leave hydrangea heads on until the following year.
It is also worth taking cuttings of penstemons, as while these plants are perennials, they don’t last forever.
Within a few years, the growth of a penstemon isn’t as vigorous, so cloning the plant will ensure that you have a ready supply without having to spend more.
Peonies (see also Peony Varieties And Facts) are fantastic plants that produce some of the biggest, most delicate-looking flowers available, some of which can reach dinner-plate diameters.
Despite what some believe, peonies are fairly easy to look after. You can grow peonies in containers, and you can move them from the ground if you really need to.
There are three types of peony, including herbaceous peonies, where their top growth dies back to the ground once winter arrives, tree peonies, which are classed as shrubs, keeping their structure in the colder months, and intersectional hybrids, which are a hybrid of the first two.
No matter what type you go for, peonies need full sunlight for as long as possible, in well-draining soil which stays fairly moist most of the time.
The soil needs to be fertile, but don’t let them sit in completely wet soil, as this will kill the peonies. If the soil you have doesn’t drain well, you can add a thick layer to the bottom of the planting hole to improve drainage.
Most herbaceous types of peony like earth which has a hint of alkaline, or a completely neutral pH.
Tree peonies will withstand some acidity in the soil, but they also require some protection from wind.
If you go for peonies with huge flowers, you will need to give them some support, as the blooms will be too heavy for the stems in some cases.
One thing you absolutely must get right from the get-go is the planting depth. If you’ve bought a bare-root peony, you need to plant it as soon as possible in fall or spring.
Don’t be tempted to plant them too deeply, or to bury the crown of the plant, as this can kill peonies, or cause the growth to become irregular.
As a general rule, herbaceous peonies need to be planted more shallowly than tree peonies.
While you might think peonies are too expensive for your garden, these beautiful perennials will certainly outlive you if you give it the right care, unlike some perennials which will go woody and need to be replaced within a few years.
While you might assume that most Scabiosa, or pincushion flowers are annuals, you do get perennial types as well, such as Scabiosa caucasica.
These are very easy perennial plants to grow from seed, and they don’t need a lot of maintenance once their roots have fully established themselves within the soil.
You can recognize these beautiful plants easily by their ruffled petals with stamens which resemble pins, appearing in the later part of spring, all the way through until the first frosts of autumn.
To get the most flowers possible out of each pincushion plant, make sure you position it in full sunlight, in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.
Preferably place them in a sheltered location, like a bed at the side of your house, which will protect these flowers from the cold, ensuring they last as long as possible.
Poppies are known for their huge, papery flowers which come in vibrant colors, usually appearing at the start of summer, flowering for a few precious weeks.
There are both annual and perennial types of poppies, and the perennial ones have been known to stay viable in soil which has no light for decades.
Once the light hits the soil, the poppies will germinate as if there’s never been a delay to begin with.
You might be most familiar with Papaver bracteatum, the Iranian poppy, which produces the familiar crimson flowers, used to commemorate those who have died in the World Wars, and it’s also used to produce thebaine, an opiate alkaloid.
Papaver orientale and Papaver bracteatum have helped produce many of the newer poppy cultivars, often featuring ruffled petals in many shades.
Most poppies require as much sunlight as you can give them, with rich, well-draining soil. Once the roots have established themselves into the soil, they can go for long periods without water.
The height of fully mature poppies depends on the variety, but most reach at least 50cm, some stretching to 90cm tall.
It’s worth noting that poppies are very harmful if ingested, so keep these plants well away from curious hands or paws.
Red Hot Poker
Also known as Kniphofia, or the torch lily, red hot pokers are very striking members of the lily plant family.
The leaves that form are tightly packed, usually lance-shaped. The plant forms flower spikes any time between March until November, and the gorgeous flower heads look like lit torches, in shades of yellow, red, orange, and white.
Most flowers are a combination of colors, some of which are bi-colored.
Mature red hot pokers can reach heights of 6.5 feet tall, spreading to 3 feet wide, so give them plenty of room if you can, but they will also adapt to smaller spaces.
Red hot pokers are among the most hardy and unusual-flowering plants available, and because they are long-lived, they are grown and prized by gardeners all over the world.
More compact forms have been recently created, allowing people to grow red hot pokers in pots or much smaller gardens, and some with more unusual colors, such as maroon and baby pink flowers.
Make sure to plant red hot pokers in full sunlight, in well-draining soil, preferably which is rich in nutrients.
It wouldn’t be a proper list of perennials without the rose. Roses come in many types, from those that ramble, growing across every available surface and other plants, those which climb vertically up structures, and standard roses, which grow upright with a little help.
You can also get container roses (see also Growing Roses In Containers), and though these are often sold as ‘houseplants’, they eventually need to be planted outside, otherwise they will just die.
You can get roses in pretty much any color you can think of, except blue and black, as there’s still no ‘true’ natural versions of these colors just yet.
We have a long history with roses as a species, first cultivating them for medicinal and culinary purposes, then for perfume, and ornamental use, all of which we still practice today.
Most roses need rich, well-draining soil and full sunlight to survive, but this depends on the type of rose you go for.
Salvia is a favorite of pollinators, and there’s a cultivar for every color scheme within a garden imaginable, from shades of white, blue, purple, yellow, red, and pink.
These ornamental sages prefer dry and hot climates, but you can also treat them as annuals for summer planting in colder parts of the world.
They are also very easy to grow, requiring little maintenance, which is perfect for people who want a lovely garden without having to put in a lot of work to get there, especially if you have to travel.
It also helps that salvias have a similar flower arrangement to foxgloves, but unlike the foxglove, they are not poisonous to humans or animals.
Also labeled under the scientific name Eryngium, the sea holly (see also Flower Names Starting With S) is instantly recognizable for its prickly flowers which resemble thistles, usually in shades of blue, silver, white, or silvery-blue.
Sea hollies are perfect for gardeners who want unusual flowers, or a particularly architectural aesthetic within their garden, where structure is given its own value.
It’s also a perfect choice for those who live in coastal areas, as sea hollies have adapted to fierce, exposed conditions and poor soil.
Depending on the variety, sea holly can grow anywhere from a single foot to 3 feet high.
If you let the flowers dry on the stem, you can then use them as part of dried flower arrangements.
Sedums come in two categories: those which stay compact, mainly used for ground cover, and those that grow taller.
If you’re looking to suppress weeds and fill in the gaps, the low-growing sedum is the one to go for.
Tall sedums boast bright clusters of flowers from the height of summer into the early days of autumn.
Both types are easy to look after, and need well-draining soil and full sunlight.
Also known as the ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum or the Shasta daisy essentially looks like a common lawn daisy, if it grew 3 feet tall.
These beautiful perennials are pollinator magnets, and the central yellow eyes are sure to brighten up any corner of your garden, either in partial shade or a fully sunny position.
Make sure to keep Shasta daisies in soil that drains well, and deadhead any fading flowers to ensure a long blooming period.
Yarrow, sometimes labeled as Achillea, usually Achillea millefolium, is a good way to fill your garden with color and lofty, airy foliage quickly.
Yarrow grows very fast and it also self-seeds, but without the nuisance of becoming invasive.
Large clusters of flat flower heads appear during summer, typically well into autumn.
Keep yarrow in well-draining soil and in full sun, and it will reappear year after year in your garden.