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10 Best Perennial Plants for Anyone's Garden

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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.

Siberian iris is one of the top 10 perennials in my list.

Siberian iris is one of the top 10 perennials in my list.

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 20th 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 represent just a few of the practices of those renowned perennial borders.

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 blooms 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 10 perennials I would pick to help give a garden a bright note of color, year after year.

Where flower borders became famous: England.

Where flower borders became famous: England.

Top 10 Perennial Plants for Long Blooming, Good Health, and Ease of Growing

What features do these plants have in common? They will thrive and reappear, year after year. They will grow under varied conditions, making each a valuable addition to a wide range of landscape locations. They have beautiful, dependable blooms. Their forms are excellent features in borders, etc. They are centerpieces in their season of bloom (i. e. who doesn't think of chrysanthemums in the autumn? )

  1. Coreopsis Verticillata
  2. Campanula Glomerata
  3. Hemerocallis
  4. Chrysanthemum
  5. Siberian Irises
  6. Echinacea, the Coneflower
  7. Peonies
  8. Achillea Filipendulina
  9. Hostas
  10. Rudbeckia Fulgens
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' is a personal favorite. It is well-named.

Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' is a personal favorite. It is well-named.

Cut and Come Again Perennial: Coreopsis Verticillata

The threadleaf coreopsis is also called "Cut and Come Again." The best known named variety is a golden yellow daisy-form flower with whorled fine, bright green leaves. Look for Coreopsis verticillata 'Golden Showers', the classic that I grew in my garden. Another is 'Zagreb', a deep gold which is ideal in containers, as well as in borders.

Coreopsis verticillata 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 "must haves." It is not quite as popular today, and some of the new varieties are not quite as tough, although very pretty. These are long blooming, especially when used as a cut flower (hence the common name).

"Moonbeam" is a variety of C. verticillata that has pale yellow flowers and is smaller in all dimensions. Well worth growing, and the color blends in many plan palettes.

  • Full sun
  • Well-draining average soil
  • Average moisture
  • Zone 4–9
  • Native plant
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.



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 both provide a lavender blue color or purplish flowers. They also come in white.

  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Average well-drained soils
  • Regular moisture
  • Zones 3 –8

This Campanula, AKA "Clustered Bellflower", can be a vigorous grower which serves as a ground cover. A good variety to look for is Campanula Glomerata 'Superba'. Another beauty is the 'Emerald' Campanula.

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 10.

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 4 (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 draining
  • Average, but regular moisture
  • Zones 3–9

The cushion form of mums is the most useful, satisfyingly colorful of all this family of flowers. However you may want to explore some of the other types for taller displays. Some of my cushion mums did reach a substantial 2 feet or so the second year growing.

Being so popular, the varieties are in constant change. Reliable stand-by ones are 'Minnruby', Michelle Gold', and 'Coppersmith'.

Learn More About Cushion Chrysanthemums

  • Cushion Chrysanthemums, Autumn Garden Splendor
    Cushion chrysanthemums are beloved in the autumn garden; not only for their colors and forms, but because they bloom in time to make a show and are frost resistant. Learn how to grow and design with these mums.
Daylily Accents

Daylily Accents

Daylilies Grow Well: 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!

Daylilies provide a long period of bloom and 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 daylily blooms for quite as long), there are so many wonderful colors and forms, along with some that have a fragrance such 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: an old fashioned one, with lemon yellow blooms and fine fragrance. It is also good for a period garden.
  • Siloam Junebug: a cute miniature that will bloom her head off. All the varieties that come from the Siloam group are worth growing.
  • Moonlit Masquerade: a prolific bloomer.
  • Fairy Tale Pink: for sweet, tender color.
  • Lullaby Baby: small, but many blooms, in a pretty white.

When buying daylilies, check whether the variety is early, mid, or late season, color, whether diploid or tetraploid, height, double or single flower form. The selections will add beauty to a border or can create a feature of an array of hemerocallis blooms over a wide season during the height of summer.

If looking for the easiest, toughest, and most versatile of all daylilies, look no further than 'Stella D'Oro'. Golden blooms on compact sturdy plants.

Golden, yellow, and orange are common hemerocallis hues.

Golden, yellow, and orange are common hemerocallis hues.

An Heirloom Hemerocallis: Hyperion

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 partial sun
  • Moist, well-draining soil
  • Zones 4–9
These are widely used by landscapers for good reason.

These are widely used by landscapers for good reason.

Plant Harmonies Made Easy: Color Wheels

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 10 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—this reduces planning time and increases successful combinations.

All-white daylilies are rare.

All-white daylilies are rare.

Late spring/early summer bloomers: peonies and Siberian iris

Late spring/early summer bloomers: peonies and Siberian iris

The Easiest Iris: Siberian Irises

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
  • Zones 2–8
  • Need moisture
  • Bloom late spring - early summer

Iris siberica has grassy leaf forms that grow in tall tufts. This foliage forms an attractive attribute that looks good throughout the entire growing season.The blooms seem to float within the top and directly above. The flowers are "beardless" and of smaller and more delicate form.

Many gardeners grow the Bearded Iris, I. Germanica, but if you value healthy plants that require almost no care or worry, then Siberian Irises are your top choice. True, they have historically come in fewer colors, but that is changing with a charming yellow hue like 'Butter and Sugar'. 'White Swirl' is gorgeous and vigorous, and pink types are also available.

I've also grown Iris sibirica Caesar's Brother. It is a classic, growing strongly with purple blooms. Additionally, I favor the incredibly beautiful light blue varieties. 'Silver Edge' and 'Super Ego' are two examples of the blues.

When buying these more delicate looking (but not behaving- they're tough!) iris, don't confuse them with the Dutch bulb type. When looking at pictures they are similar, but in the garden completely different from each other.

Old fashioned, full-blown, and fragrant peonies

Old fashioned, full-blown, and fragrant peonies

Springtime 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-draining soil
  • Average moisture
  • Zones 2–8

The peonies reign during their bloom time, and have been favorites for brides and as cut flowers. Their sweet fragrance is a great plus in my book.

The one drawback that gardeners have with the peony is the tendency for the big double flowers to bend down under the weight of rain. The antidote is to prop up the flowers with a ring of twiggy branches or with plant support stakes. A very simple and effective solution.

Unlike some of the other perennials in this list of ten, peonies can be grown as "specimen" plants. That is, they are substantial enough to grow on their own unaccompanied by other plants or flowers. During their growing season they resemble a round bush of beautiful healthy foliage.

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-draining soil
  • Drought tolerant, but best with average moisture
  • Zones 3–9
  • Midsummer flowering

In recent years, the colors and popularity of these plants has sky-rocketed. Who doesn't love a daisy? And the droopy petals of the original species has been bred into more compact daisy forms and plants of varying sizes. The colors also, have benefitted from breeding programs and are widely offered.

Echinacea Extravagance

A plethora of bright color from the purple coneflower species.

A plethora of bright color from the purple coneflower species.

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. Also known as yarrow, these 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 with green foliage, these flowers are an interesting form that is good for all types of gardens. 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-draining soils, but loamy is preferred

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 spots 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
  • Partial sun to partial shade
  • Zones 3–9
Hostas Have Flowers

Hostas Have Flowers

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 a long period of bloom with interesting seed heads through the winter. But don't snub the Susans, 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
  • Zones 4–9
Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg

Rudbeckia by Per Ola Wiberg

A Word About Perennial Plants

When landscaping, we all have a wishlist 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 10 plants that I think will give you the best results for a blooming garden?

Mixed flower gardens have many perennials of varied colors.

Mixed flower gardens have many perennials of varied colors.

When Do They Bloom?

Planting for flowering times is as important as color considerations.

Spring/Early Summer

Siberian Irises


Campanula Glomerata


Coreopsis Verticillata



Echinacea, the Coneflower

Achillea Filipendulina

Late Summer/ Fall

Rudbeckia Fulgens


Picking Top Perennials for Your 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!

"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!