Updated date:

10 Best Perennial Plants for Anyone's Garden

Author:

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

List of the Top Ten Best Perennial Plants

Siberian Iris is one of the top ten perennials in my list.

Siberian Iris is one of the top ten perennials in my list.

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.

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

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

"Moonbeam" Is a Lemon Yellow

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'

Cut and Come Again Perennial

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.

  • Full Sun
  • Well Draining Average Soil
  • Average Moisture
  • Zone 4-9
  • Native Plant

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.

Campanula

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 Campanula species is a good choice, and provide a lavender blue color or purplish flowers. They also come in white.


  • Full sun or part shade
  • Average well-drained soils
  • Regular moisture
  • Zone: 3 to 8

Fall Mums

Cushion mums are the type best grown in perennial gardens. They are available in many colors and forms.

Cushion mums are the type best grown in perennial gardens. They are available in many colors and forms.

Autumn Color From Mums

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 will need dividing every other year. Fertilizing is important because they are greedy feeders for that burst of bloom. Additionally, 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).

The labor is worth it to have their beautiful color when nothing else is so strongly blooming.

  • Full sun
  • Humusy, fertile soil that is well drained
  • Average, but regular moisture
  • Zones 3 to 9

Daylily Accents

Daylilies Grow Well

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.

Hemerocallis is the Official Latin Name

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 a 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

10-best-perennials

An Heirloom Hemerocallis

Hyperion is one of the best Daylilies

Lemon yellow with a delicious fragrance, the stature of this daylily is slender and tall.

Hyperion was introduced in 1924 and has stood the test of time in many gardens. No wonder it is one of my own favorites.

  • Full to Part Sun
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Zones 4 to 9

Daylilies are Everyones Favorite

photo by normanack : These are widely used by landscapers for good reason

photo by normanack : These are widely used by landscapers for good reason

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.

All White Daylilies Are Rare

Daylily

Daylily

Peonies and Irises

Late Spring/Early Summer Bloomers: Peonies and Siberian Iris

Late Spring/Early Summer Bloomers: Peonies and Siberian Iris

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.


  • Full Sun or Partial Shade
  • Average to moist soils
  • Zone 2 to 8
  • Needs moisture

Pink Peonies

Old fashioned, fullblown, and fragrant peonies

Old fashioned, fullblown, and fragrant peonies

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!

  • Full sun
  • Fertile soils, love potassium
  • Well-drained soil
  • Average moisture
  • Zones 2 to 8

Coneflowers

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 seed-heads remain for winter interest, so this is a long season perennial.


  • Full Sun
  • Average, well-drained soil
  • Drought tolerant, but best with average moisture
  • Zones 3 to 9

Achilleas Make Good Dried Flowers

Yarrow at Phipps

Yarrow at Phipps

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.

  • Full sun
  • Drought tolerant
  • Zones 3-9
  • Average well-drained soils, but loamy is preferred


Hostas Have Flowers

The '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.


  • Moist, humus-rich soil
  • Part sun to part shade
  • Zone 3-9

Growing Tips for Hosta Plants

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 mid-sized golden ones. Goldsturm is a good one.


  • Full sun
  • Drought tolerant
  • Average soils
  • Zone 4 to 9
Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg

Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg

Mixed Flower Garden

Mixed Flower Garden has many perennials of varied colors

Mixed Flower Garden has many perennials of varied colors

A Word About Perennial Plants

Characteristics of 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?

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!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where can I find seeds for perennial plants?

Answer: It is often possible to buy seeds for these plants on Amazon, as well as online seed companies. Many home improvement stores carry flower seeds in the spring, but they may or may not be these particular plants.

I would order them during January or February of the coming year.

Question: Do you have a book that would recommend perennials?

Answer: I recommend books authored by others but have not yet written recommendations in book form. I write articles on my blog and here on HubPages.

Perennial Comments Pop Up Here! Welcome to the Garden

Barbara Majerus on August 25, 2018:

My garden has the orange daylilies. Historically, they have been at this site for 30 years, surviving 40° below winters. They are out of control so I'm thinning them out. Any advice?

Fay Favored from USA on May 09, 2014:

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.

Paula Hite from Virginia on April 02, 2014:

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"

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on July 21, 2013:

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

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on July 21, 2013:

@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?!

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on July 21, 2013:

@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.

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on July 21, 2013:

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

Laura Hofman from Naperville, IL on July 03, 2013:

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

roger530 on June 11, 2013:

Great job on 10 Best Perennial Plants To Grow.

poutine on May 28, 2013:

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

Edith Rose from Canada on April 30, 2013:

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

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on August 25, 2012:

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.

mel-kav on June 29, 2012:

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

microfarmproject on June 23, 2012:

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.

Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 02, 2012:

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

blessedmomto7 on March 21, 2012:

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,,,,

MamaRuth on March 17, 2012:

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.

anonymous on March 16, 2012:

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!

newdaygardens from Minnesota on March 14, 2012:

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.

anonymous on March 08, 2012:

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

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on February 24, 2012:

@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 :)

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on February 24, 2012:

@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!

oxfordian on February 24, 2012:

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?

anonymous on February 24, 2012:

Very nice lens. At my house we grow daylillies, irises, purple coneflower, black-eyed susans and two other favorites: Delphiniums and Columbine. Thanks for sharing!

MelonyVaughan on February 22, 2012:

What a wonderful lens! Great tips! Thanks!

gemjane on February 22, 2012:

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.

dwnovacek on February 21, 2012:

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

SteveKaye on February 21, 2012:

Thank you for this wonderful stroll through these beautiful gardens.

Jules Corriere from Jonesborough TN on February 20, 2012:

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

cyberwizzard on February 20, 2012:

The flowers are beautiful! Nice work.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on February 15, 2012:

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

Ilona E (author) from Ohio on February 14, 2012:

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

Adriana from New Market on February 14, 2012:

I have irises, peonies and lavender. Beautiful lens!