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10 Best Perennial Plants For Anyone's Garden

Updated on April 17, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

Ilona has gardened actively for most of her life, and been a writer and webmaster online since 1998. Homeschooled all 10 of her children.

List of the Top Ten Best Perennial Plants

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10 Perennials for Garden Success

Everyone wants a beautiful garden, but not everyone wants to have to coddle plants that give only limited return of bloom for a good garden show. It's not as if the modern homeowner has access to the kind of professional gardener that made the English gardens of the early twentieth century the places of garden legend. That kind of garden required a small army of laborers, run by a career head gardener. The bedding annuals, the pots of blooming bulbs, the insertion of plants to fill the place of those gone out of bloom...

As Rudyard Kipling was known to observe:

"Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made

By singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,

While better men than we go out and start their working lives

At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives"

The work of a garden was an apt analogy for the making of a great nation, wasn't it?

Most of us aren't aiming for garden legend, but we would like to have dependable bloom to brighten up our landscapes. Perennials that produce color during their bloom time, and attractive foliage when out of bloom will give a modern garden good looks without an army of gardeners.

Here are the top ten perennials I would pick to help give a garden a bright note of color, year after year.


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Plant harmonies made easy

Color Wheel For Gardeners

A tool like this can be very important for combining your plants in the border. If you have tried and failed to produce the plant pictures you wanted, try this quick way to use the ten best plant choices with some companions.

The main flower feature always needs a number of secondary flowering plants to create a garden picture. That is a good garden tip to remember when putting together even small borders.

Arrange plants by height, then factor in bloom time, sun requirements and color choices, reduces planning time and increases successful combinations. There are other color wheels to choose:

Womanswork Shade Garden Wheel

Growing Closely

Make sure there is good soil and complete fertilizer for optimum growth. Many perennials are "heavy feeders" which produce lots of bloom.
Make sure there is good soil and complete fertilizer for optimum growth. Many perennials are "heavy feeders" which produce lots of bloom.

A Word About Perennial Plants

Characteristics of a this herbaceous form

When landscaping, we all have a wish list of less work, more bloom, and all season interest. The bad news is it is impossible to fulfill those wishes with just one kind of plant. The good news is that if you know what plants can do, you can combine them to get something very close to your landscape wishes.

Perennials, the Good Things

They come back year after year (with proper care).

Perennial blooming plants often have substantial form.

There are choices for every climate and every garden growing condition.

There is less work for most perennials than for biennials or annual flowers.

They will multiply in proper growing conditions.

Perennials, the Not-So-Good Things

They have a specific season of bloom.

They do need dividing, fertilizing, and other care.

You do need to plant the right plant in the right place (creates a learning curve)

The plants take time to "settle in", and produce the desired effect.

Just so you understand that it is not possible to pop plants into the ground and get back a full season of non-stop color, I wanted to start off with this information. Instant effect is something that a gardener can get with annuals, for the cost of the plants replaced every year and the annual renewed efforts of planting. But by choosing wisely, a chosen month of the growing season can be spectacular, and a longer time of continuous bloom can be achieved.

Would you like to mull over the ten plants that I think will give you the best results for a blooming garden?

Peonies And Iris

Late Spring/Early Summer Bloomers
Late Spring/Early Summer Bloomers | Source

Well Planted Perennial Border

Where flower borders became famous: England.
Where flower borders became famous: England.

Here Are My Top Ten

Long Bloom, Good Health, Ease of Growing

  1. Coreopsis verticillata
  2. Campanula glomerata
  3. Hemerocallis
  4. Chrysanthemum, cushion type
  5. Siberian Irises
  6. Echinacea, the Coneflower
  7. Peonies
  8. Achillea filipendulina
  9. Hostas
  10. Rudbeckia fulgens

Plant Profiles For More Info

Coreopsis verticillata

The Threadleaf Coreopsis is also called "Cut and Come Again". It is a golden yellow daisy form flower with whorled fine, bright green leaves. It is one of the longest bloomers of the perennials, and it is one tough plant. Many of the best plants for American gardens are the prairie plants, and this is one of those. When I was first gardening, every garden book seemed to have this plant on the list of a "must have". It is not quite as popular today, and some of the new varieties are not quite as tough, although very pretty. Long bloom especially when used as a cut flower ( hence the common name).

'Moonbeam' is a variety of Coreopsis verticillata which has pale yellow flowers, and is smaller in all dimensions.

'Moonbeam' is a Lemon Yellow

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' | Source

Campanula

Source

Blue Campanulas

Campanula glomerata

There are many perennial plants of the Campanula family for gardens. They are really beautiful blues, and while I love the 'carpatica' species, this one will give you a taller plant with very showy blossoms. Either one is a good choice, and provides a lavender blue color or purplish flowers. They also come in white.

Fall Mums

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Autumn Color

Cushion Chrysanthemums

These are the mounds of chrysanthemum blooms you see in the fall. They are sturdy, and nothing compares to them during their fall bloom. Cushion chrysanthemums come in many colors from golden yellow through pink to maroon. They don't need staking, but they aren't quite as easy to grow as some of the other choices in my top ten. easy to plant, yes, but if you grow them as perennials they need dividing every other year. They need fertilizing because they are greedy feeders for that burst of bloom. And good culture practice is to pinch off the buds and growing points of the branches before July 4th, after which you leave them alone, to ensure a fall rather than late summer bloom. It is worth it to have their beautiful color when nothing else is so strongly blooming.

Daylily Accents

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Daylilies

Hemerocallis

Daylilies grow in sun or shade, in all sorts of tough conditions and bloom like nobody's business! Not to be confused with the lilies that grow from bulbs, these hardy perennials come in such a huge spectrum of varieties that one can be found to meet just about any desire for a blooming flower. Except maybe for blues, although like with the rose, you can't blame the breeders for not trying! Read more about dayliliies in their own highlight on this page.

The Easiest Iris

Siberian Iris

These are graceful and bring beauty to a garden in the sun or shade. Unbothered by diseases, they bloom in the early summer or late spring, and have beautiful foliage for the rest of the season, which is no small benefit. I've always loved this plant and there are some exciting new varieties to grow, Most are purple and blue in color.

Coneflowers

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Native Coneflower

Echinacea purpura

The coneflower is another native flower from the prairies and has rightfully become extremely popular. It is one perennial that is very easy to grow from seed and can be divided as well. There are some new colors and sizes that are now available. The foliage is a little coarse and the plants grow strongly vertical. The cone seedheads remain for winter interest, so this is a long season perennial.

Pink Peonies

Old fashioned, fullblown, and fragrant
Old fashioned, fullblown, and fragrant | Source

Springtime Peonies

Peonies

Old fashioned, fragrant, beautiful foliage, with big showy flowers... a perennial favorite for generations. Another great flower for the period garden, it is a great cut flower, and makes a fine looking herbaceous bush for the time it is out of bloom- which is all of the summer, since these bloom only in springtime. But what a show they give!

Good Dried Flowers, Too

Yarrow at Phipps
Yarrow at Phipps | Source

Goldplate Yarrow

Achillea filipendulina

I told you prairie flowers are some of the best for garden success and here is another one. The flat plate- like flowers rise medium to tall in the garden, are excellent dried flowers and will be sturdy, strong growers when given full sun. Fine textured green foliage. These flowers are an interesting form that is good for all types of gardens. AKA "Yarrow". If you are tired of Black-eyed Susans grow these plants instead. Or better yet, combine them.

Must-Have Plant

Hostas

Hostas are some of the preeminently useful perennials of the garden. The only thing they don't do so well is grow in full sun. but some of them even tolerate that. Mainly grown for the gorgeous foliage and the full shape of their plant, they also have flowers, which are a fine feature in some of the varieties. If you have any partly sunny /partly shady spot at all, you ought to have some hostas growing there. They are hardy, and grow somewhat slowly, but many become giants if given time. They also work as groundcovers.

Hostas Have Flowers

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Rudbeckia Family

Rudbeckia fulgens, Black-eyed Susans

By now, you are probably all too familiar with the Black-eyed Susan daisies. Landscaper's darlings, they produce along period of bloom with interesting seed heads through the winter. But don't snub the Susan's since they will mix very nicely with other plants in your garden and have a very long flowering time. They also bloom during a later season than many plants. Breeders are producing many types and some different colors, but I prefer the mid sized golden ones. Goldsturm is a good one.

Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg
Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg | Source

Amount of Daylight Needed

Remember the light requirements of the plants when situating them in the garden. Most flowering perennials require full sun or at least part sun. If you give less than they need they won't grow well, and may not bloom.

Daylilies are Everyones Favorite - Widely used by Landscapers for good reason

photo by normanack
photo by normanack

Day lilies provide a long period of bloom, great color on a well formed plant that stays healthy. It also grows in a wide variety of conditions. While 'Stella D'Oro' is everywhere (no other day lily blooms for quite as long), there are so many wonderful colors and forms, along with some that have fragrance that you really should plant several types. They have a span over a long season- you can get early, mid, and late bloomers. Tall, medium, and miniature heights... breeders have gone wild with the Hemerocallis group of perennials.

Home gardeners benefit!

Some of my favorites are :

Hyperion This is an old fashioned one, with lemon yellow blooms and fine fragrance. It is also good for a period garden.

Siloam Junebug is a cute miniature that will bloom her head off. All the varieties that come from the Siloam group are worth growing.

Moonlit Masquerade is a prolific bloomer.

Fairy Tale Pink for sweet, tender color.

Lullaby Baby small, but many blooms, in a pretty white.

Golden, Yellow, And Orange Are Common Hemerocallis Hues

Hyperion is one of the best Daylilies

An heirloom plant

Lemon yellow with a delicious fragrance, the stature of this daylily is slender and tall. It was introduced in 1924 and has stood the test of time in many gardens. No wonder it is one of my own favorites.

All White Daylilies Are Rare

Daylily
Daylily | Source

Joan Senior With Large White Blooms

15 Bareroot Hemerocallis Joan Senior Daylily
15 Bareroot Hemerocallis Joan Senior Daylily

Joan Senior is one of the best, most venerable of the white daylilies. This much sought after color is a beacon in the part shade section of a perennial border.

 

Mixed Flower Garden

Mixed Flower Garden has many perennials of varied colors
Mixed Flower Garden has many perennials of varied colors

Do you have favorite perennials that do well in your garden? Which ones add the most to your garden, which ones can't you live without? Tell us about it!

Perennial Comments Pop Up Here! - Welcome to the Garden

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    • Adriana Daniela profile image

      Adriana 5 years ago from New Market

      I have irises, peonies and lavender. Beautiful lens!

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 5 years ago from Ohio

      @Adriana Daniela: Those are some of my favorite- it sounds like you have lovely things in your garden:)

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very nice lens. The flowers are beautiful to look at.

    • profile image

      cyberwizzard 5 years ago

      The flowers are beautiful! Nice work.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Beautiful lens! Great information and gorgeous pictures. Purple Coneflower is one of my favorites!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful stroll through these beautiful gardens.

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 5 years ago

      Beautiful, beautiful lens. I'd never heard of the "Cushion Chrysanthemum," and now I want some! Angel Blessings!

    • gemjane profile image

      gemjane 5 years ago

      One of the best lenses I've ever read! Well done. Nice pictures. I'm afraid I'm prejudiced--the same plants are very high on my list. Good book recommendations, too.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! Great tips! Thanks!

    • oxfordian profile image

      oxfordian 5 years ago

      Soooo beautiful!! And chock full of great information. I'm bookmarking this one so I can come back. This is better than some of the books I have on the subject. I was shocked at the price of the "Flower Cuisine" fertilizer you recommended... $65 for a 5 lb bag? Zowie!! What's in it?

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 5 years ago from Ohio

      @oxfordian: thanks for bringing that to my attention- my bad for not writing up the info on the fertilizer. It is the price for a 6 count ( 30 lbs) and they offer a 20% discount... which starts to sound mighty good, instead of "zowie" LOL!

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 5 years ago from Ohio

      @blondebecky: It can- the secret is to plant things that will grow well in your garden ( right plant, right place) and take care of them with consistency throughout the season. That is not a lot of work, but regular attention. build your soil with natural fertilizers and compost. It can be done :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is such a beautiful and informative lens. I can't wait for Spring to plant more perennials, and see how the many I planted last year have grown. I have such pleasure from my flowers :) *Blessed

    • newdaygardens profile image

      newdaygardens 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Beautiful lens. I loved mixed perennial borders. As a daylily and bearded iris hybridizer I am glad you shared some photos of daylilies beyond the old historic ones. People should really look into the varieties that are available today in many forms, colors, and sizes. Do wish you would have included the bearded iris on your top 10 ;) I love the Siberians too but they bloom sporadically in my climate.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Of these 10 perennials, I have grown or am growing 8 of them. They are great, their short bloom times just mean the bloom is more precious. I love Stella de Oro lilies, and Siberian Iris with its lovely green & white leaves. Gorgeous lens! Thank you!

    • MamaRuth profile image

      MamaRuth 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great information on perennials. (And I loved the pictures). I'm working on adding flowers to my yard and reading your suggestions was very helpful.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 5 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I just added coneflowers last year and I am waiting for them to come back. So far they still look rather dead,,,,

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      These are great perennials. I really love the Daylilies and will be buying some. Thank you.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      This is a very lovely lens. I live in the desert southwest, so I grow Golden Bells, Lantana and Verbena, as well as annual succulents and cacti. We enjoy them year after year.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      Absolutely beautiful selections of flowers. I'm looking for some new ideas for a garden at my new house.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 4 years ago from Connecticut

      Beautiful, and filled with information on selecting and growing perennials. Hostas and daylilies are personal favorites, and I'm always looking for new plants and new ideas for the garden.

    • notsuperstitious1 profile image

      Edith Rose 4 years ago from Canada

      Hostas , Columbines, and Blue Flax are a must in my garden.

    • profile image

      poutine 4 years ago

      I like my bleeding hearts, my day lilies and my autumn joy the most

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 4 years ago from Ohio

      @poutine: I love those, too. I grow the sedums mainly for their foliage, but they are really an all season planting, and considered those for top ten. The dicentra ( bleeding heart) disappears after bloom -like Virginia bluebells, so they are a secondary plant in my garden. I think they have such pretty blooms that we get very attached to that and forget that they don't offer as much for the rest of the season. But we need more than just the top ten, don't we?!

    • profile image

      roger530 4 years ago

      Great job on 10 Best Perennial Plants To Grow.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Love your selections! All do well in my garden in Illinois too.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 4 years ago from Ohio

      @Anthony Altorenna: Thank you- you have beautiful gardens and I love the lenses about them.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 4 years ago from Ohio

      @notsuperstitious1: I have had all these, and they make a lovely early summer garden. I find that blue flax is short lived and has to be replaced every couple years, but it is SO lovely.

    • Ilonagarden profile image
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      Ilona E 4 years ago from Ohio

      @LauraHofman: Thanks :) Yes, Illinois is very similar in soils and climate to much of Ohio (where I garden)

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      Totally awesome lens! Its been shared on BOTH our Facebook and G+ pages today! Way to go!

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/10593843672309975630...

      "The Green Thumb: A Place For Gardeners To Gather"

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Several of these are in my yard, but I lost some over the hard winter. The Campanula glomeratai is pretty. Appreciate all the info and photos for ideas. So lovely.

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