20 favorite perennial flowers

These unfussy, long-lived plants pump out beautiful foliage and flowers year after year. Plant in fall or spring when cooler temperatures help them get a healthy start

Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily)

Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily)

Flowers of the evergreen hybrids come in shades of purple with dark flecks and last well in bouquets. Alstroemeria aurea blooms come in shades of yellow and orange.

The 2-to 3-foot tall plants produce flowering shoots as long as the soil doesn’t get too hot. (Twist the shoot off at the base to keep them coming).

More about growing Alstroemeria

 

Aster x frikartii

Aster x frikartii

Delicate-looking flowers on ultra-tough plants tolerate just about any soil type. ‘Mönch’ grows to 2 feet-tall and pumps out 2 1/2-inch lavender-blue flowers almost all year if spent ones are removed.

‘Wonder of Staffa’ is another favorite with lavender blue blossoms.

More about growing asters

Catmint (Nepeta Faassenii)

Photo by Charles Mann
 

Catmint (Nepeta x faassenii)

Loose spikes of lavender-blue flowers cover the soft, silvery-green mounds in late spring and early summer.

As soon as blossoms fade, shear plants back by half, or cut faded flower stems to the ground to encourage rebloom.

Plants (to 1 foot tall) make attractive, informal hedges.

How to grow catmint

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Colorful and super tough, ‘Ruby Star’ from Monrovia nurseries has large pinkish-purple blooms with pronounced coppery centers.

The plant grows 2-feet tall; the flowers are 4 inches across. Among the many showy hybrids are ‘Orange Meadowbrite’, butter-yellow ‘Sunrise’, and reddish-orange ‘Sundown’.

More about growing coneflowers

Coreopsis 'Mango Punch'

Photo courtesy of Terra Nova nurseries

Coreopsis 'Mango Punch'

The low, mounding perennial covers itself in summer with mango-orange flowers that have a red blush.

We love the fresh, fruity hue of this new variety. Clip the faded blooms so the flowers will keep coming.

More about growing Coreopsis hybrids

Euphorbia characias wulfenii

Euphorbia characias wulfenii

Upright stems crowded with narrow blue-green leaves form a dome-shaped bush 4 ft. high and wide.

Chartreuse flower clusters appear in late winter or early spring (cut spent ones out at the base).

More about growing Euphorbia characias wulfenii

Forget-me-not

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)

Must-haves for lightly shaded woodland gardens, these much-loved plants bear tiny but exquisite blue flowers in spring in mild climates.

‘Baby Blue’, a hybrid from Proven Winners, has true blue flowers and grows 6 to 8 inches tall.

More about growing forget-me-not

Gaillardia x grandiflora

Gaillardia x grandiflora

Cheerful daisylike blooms in various warm shades of yellow, bronze, and red. Many varieties are available, with single or double flowers.

Ones we love: foot-tall ‘Goblin’ with deep red flowers bordered in yellow; ‘Yellow Queen’, pure yellow flowers (2 1/2 feet tall), and orange ‘Tokajer’ (3 feet tall).

More about growing gaillardia

Gaura (G. lindheimeri)

Gaura (G. lindheimeri

White flowers cluster like butterflies atop tall spikes on these airy 2½- to 4-foot-tall plants. Selected forms include 'Siskiyou Pink' (to 2 feet tall), with rose-pink flowers and 'Whirling Butterflies' (to 3 feet tall), with white flowers. 

More about Gaura

Geum chiloense

Geum chiloense

Tall flower spikes grow from mounds of velvety foliage to 15 inches high, 2 feet wide.

‘Lady Stratheden’ has clear yellow blooms; ‘Mrs Bradshaw’ has double scarlet blooms. Both have a delicate wildflower look.

More about geum chiloense

Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta)

Photo by Norm Plate

Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta)

Deep golden petals radiate from chocolate centers on 2- to 4-inch-wide flowers.

Plants reach 3 to 4 feet tall and 1 ½ feet wide. Shorter varieties such as ‘Goldilocks’ and ‘Toto’ top out at 10 inches tall. 

More about growing gloriosa daisies

Heuchera

Photo courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Heuchera

These garden workhorses thrive in light shade (full sun in cooler climates).

They send up slender, wiry stems of tiny bell-shaped, pink or white blooms. But it’s the scalloped or lobed leaves we love most; they come in delicious shades of cool lime, plum, chocolate, and more.

Our current crave: ‘Southern Comfort’ from Terra Nova nurseries; its hue is rich and mellow, like its namesake.

More about growing heuchera

Jerusalem sage

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)

Tall stems of these Mediterranean natives are set with widely-spaced, hooded yellow flowers.

Moisture-conserving thick, typically furry or hairy leaves are lance-shaped. Pretty planted with lavender and red hot poker (Kniphofia ‘Bressingham Comet’).

More about Jerusalem sage

Lavender

Photo courtesy of High Country Gardens

Lavender

Every garden should have one of these beauties.

English lavender is the most fragrant, but Spanish lavender’s deep purple “rabbit ears” stand out in garden beds.

Where space is tight, grow a compact form; one we can’t wait to try is Lavandula angustifolia ‘Thumbelina Leigh’, coming late this year from High Country Gardens. It stays 12 to 15 inches tall.

More on growing lavender

'Moonshine' yarrow

Photo by Thomas J. Story

'Moonshine' yarrow (Achillea)

One of the most carefree and generous bloomers, yarrow has tight clusters of deep yellow flowers on 2-foot tall plants.

Pair it with blue flowered catmint.

More about 'Moonshine' yarrow

Penstemon Beard Tongue (Penstemon)

Photo by Marion Brenner

Penstemon (P.  gloxinioides)

These bushy plants are fairly short lived, but to make up for it, they produce lots of trumpet-shaped blooms over a long period.

Deep purple ‘Midnight’ and scarlet ‘Firebird’ are standouts for their vivid, south-of-the-border colors. Pink and white ‘Appleblossom’ looks fresh and springlike.

More about Penstemon

Pineapple sage (salvia elegans)

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Pineapple sage (salvia elegans)

At its best in fall when it sends up spikes of vivid red flowers, this salvia’s foliage smells like ripe pineapples.

The plant grows 4 feet tall. S.e. ‘Golden Delicious’ grows 1- to 3 feet tall with fire-engine red blooms and chartreuse leaves.

More about growing pineapple sage

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

Masses of velvety purple flower spikes cover gray-green shrubs from late summer into spring in mild-winter climates (bloom stops with frost in colder regions).

Plants reach 3 to 4 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide.

More about growing salvia leucantha

 

Sea holly (Eryngium amethystinum)

Sea holly (Eryngium amethystinum)

Amethyst flower heads surrounded by 2-inch silvery-blue bracts open atop tall stems in summer, emerging from a rosette of spiny, medium green leaves.

The thistlelike blooms resemble 4th of July fireworks ― great for bouquets.

More about growing sea holly

Sedum telephium

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Sedum telephium

Dense flower clusters on sturdy stems rise above bright green leaves. Blooms start out blush-colored, aging to coppery pink, then rust as weather cools.

Plants reach 1-to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Pretty beside asters.

More about Sedum telephium

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