For every problem area in your landscape, you'll find perennials that not only survive but also thrive in the conditions available. Simply match the preferred growing conditions of each perennial to your site.
Perennials offer possibilities for every growing situation. As you contemplate digging into perennial gardening, approach it from the standpoint of solving landscape problems. There's a perennial that will thrive in every growing solution.
If you have a slope too steep for mowing, you can trade turf for perennial groundcover. Near downspouts and low spots in your yard where water gathers after downpours, moisture-loving perennials can transform an eyesore into a beauty spot.
Be Inspired: Hillside landscaping ideas.
Where lower rainfall dictates water restrictions, tap into the world of xeriscape plants, which grow and flower profusely with little moisture. Natural deposits of acidic soil can support lovely perennials that will make you grateful for the locally low pH. Stop fighting to grow grass beneath shade trees -- plant shade-loving perennials instead!
You can even find perennials that serve as lawn stand-ins -- tidy, ground-hugging plants that withstand foot traffic and stay green year-round. In municipalities where surface runoff adds charges to your water bill, incorporating a rain garden filled with moisture-loving perennials will dissipate roof, driveway, or patio runoff into the soil and can reduce your water fees. Use this list of perennials adapted to various growing conditions to draft solutions to your landscaping problems.
Lacy, white flower plumes atop 3- to 5-foot-tall plants from early- to midsummer
Joe Pye Weed
Large mauve blooms; up to 6 feet tall in late summer
Course texture; flower plumes in spring or summer
Long-lasting swordlike foliage
Long-lasting flower stalks in summer
Red, pink, white, purple, or bicolor blooms in early- to midspring
White or light pink flowers in midspring
Heart-shape foliage; pink flowers in late summer
Hellebore or Lenten Rose
Coarse-texture foliage; blooms in late winter to early spring
Early-spring flowers and variegated foliage
Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart
Heart-shape pink flowers in spring
Fragrant blue, purple, pink, or white flowers in late spring
Late-Summer or fall flowers
Many cultivars with colorful foliage
Creeping Baby's Breath
White flowers in summer
Spring or summer flowers depending on species; foliage of many turns red in fall
Blue flowers on wiry stems summer to fall
Dianthus or Pinks
White, pink, or red flowers in spring and summer; evergreen foliage in some areas
Ornamental grass with bluish-green foliage
Fragrant foliage and lavender-blue flowers in early summer
Baptisia or False Indigo
Pealike blue flowers in late spring followed by attractive seedpods
Liriope or Lilyturf
Dark green grasslike foliage
Airy white or pink flower stalks from midsummer to fall
Rounded clump of upright foliage
Yellow flowers all summer
Summer flowers on tall spikes early to midsummer
Campion or Maltese Cross
Silver foliage and scarlet flowers in early summer
Centaurea or Mountain Bluet
Blue-violet flowers in midspring to early summer
Flowers with paperlike petals in late spring and early summer
Shrublike with white, pink, or purple-pink flowers all summer
Tall flower spikes in late spring to early summer and texture-rich foliage
Reddish-brown fronds in center of plant
Fringed Bleeding Heart
Finely cut foliage; flowers in summer
Liatris or Gayfeather
Purple or white flower spikes in early- to midsummer
Shiny evergreen foliage with pink blooms in early spring
Showy flowers in late spring or summer
Hellebore or Lenten Rose
Flowers in late summer
False Sunflower or Heliopsis
Yellow, daisylike flowers native to the prairie
Many species with pink, purple, or white blooms for sun to part shade
Late summer spikes of deep blue for shady sites
Ferny foliage and drought-tolerant; golden-yellow, white, pink, red, or salmon-color blooms
Silvery foliage is the key feature of this perennial
Long bloom season of orange-red daisies marked with yellow
Baptisia or False Indigo
Shrubby plant with spikes of blue, yellow, white, orange-red blooms in spring
Herb with fine texture in silvery gray or green foliage
Groundcover with pinkish-purple blooms
Adapted to full sun and dry soils with wide range of bloom colors
Succulent with spiky foliage and trusses of white bell-shape blooms
Armeria or Sea Thrift
Compact plant with grassy foliage and pink or white blooms
Bicolor daisylike blooms on mounded plants
Brilliant orange blooms highly attractive to butterflies
White blooms in spring on mounded evergreen foliage
Succulent with rosettes of green, pink, or purple foliage
Dianthus or Pinks
Carnation relative with grassy blue-green foliage and fragrant pink, white, or red blooms
Shade- and moisture-lover with feathery plumes of blooms
Shade-tolerant groundcover with delicate-looking blooms
Lobelia or Cardinal Flower
Moisture-loving plant with spikes of brilliant red or dark pink blooms
Clustered spikes of pink bells
Hellebore or Lenten Rose
Late-winter bloomer in shades of pink, white, green, or purple
Perennial bulb with blooms or purple or white
Silvery-gray foliage and purple blooms in summer
Long spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers
Yellow springtime blooms with feathery centers
Moisture-loving plant with globes of pink, purple, or white blooms in spring
Chartreuse blooms over blue-green foliage
Upright spikes of pealike blooms in many shades
Fall bloomer for shade
Crepelike blooms in spring in shades of orange, red, pink, or white
Orange blooms turn into black seed clusters.
Adaptable daisy for tough sites.
Glossy green foliage with pink blooms.
Deep purple blooms on silvery plants.
Feathery foliage and white or pinkish blooms.
Finely dissected foliage with small yellow daisylike blooms.
Perennial flowers add years of color and interest to the garden. While the first rule of success is to ensure you have the right plants in the right spot, it's also important to plant your perennials correctly to get them off to the best possible start. Begin by digging the hole for your plant. Ideally, the planting hole should be wider than your pot but no deeper, especially if you're planting in clay soil. Then, slip your plant out of its container. If it's well-rooted, the root ball will come out in 1 unit. If the plant is root-bound where you see roots circling around the edges of the root ball, it is important to loosen them and spread them out. Don't worry about harming the roots. Once you've spread the roots out, place the root ball on the ground and gently fill soil in around it. Take care not to plant your perennial too deeply. The top of the root ball should stay level with the top of the soil. Then, water it in well.
-If you have a shady spot on your backyard, it's easy to transform it into a colorful garden. These plants rely on Hostas which come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. But in addition to Hostas there are many other blooming perennials that will fill your garden with color from spring to fall. Hosta should be the backbone of any shade garden, they ranges in size from 6 inches to 6 feet and coming just about every color imaginable from green to blue. Some were even tinged with yellow and white. They also spread with times, you can dig, divide and make more of them. Large varieties such as Sagae can grow to as much as 3 1/2 feet wide and 4 feet tall over time. Virginia Bluebells are another native wild flower. They come up in spring, have lovely pinkish blue flowers and die back in June, but don't worry they come back next spring. Old-fashioned Bleeding Heart is a charming spring bloomer every garden should have. They come in pink and white but sadly like Virginia bluebells, they die back in June. Heuchera commonly called Coral Bells is a great plant for partially shaded areas. This variety is called Palace Purple because of its purple leaves. Other varieties common Chartreuse, Dark Rain and [unk] blue silver, all of those [unk] beautiful flowers in mid summer. The Leucojum is a spring blooming bulb that you plant on the fall. It blooms in May right alongside the bleeding hearts and Hostas it goes about 2 feet tall and as beautiful pendulous white flowers. Epimedium is also called Barrenwort. It's a great plant for dry shade, it's really grow taller and produces flowers in spring. They come in a variety of colors. There also a variety of leaf forms in many [unk]. Hellebore also called Christmas rose or winter rose is another perennial that pops up very early in the spring. The flowers are pendulous and come in a variety of colors though they fade by mid-summer, the plant's foliage looks green for the rest of growing season. Valerian may look delicate but this spring bloomer is as tough as nails. It's a bulb you plant in the fall that pops up again in the spring. They are very tough hardy. While Ginger makes a great ground covering shady gardens, it has lovely heart-shaped leaves and small purple flowers hidden in the foliage over time while ginger will carpet in the area with its bright green leaves. Pulmonaria also called Lungworts is prized for its pattern foliage and delicate looking flowers. The blooms come in pink, blue and white and the patter leaves vary from variety to variety. They thrived in rich soils and shady locations. Narcissus or Daffodils come in a broad specter of colors, shapes and flower forms. Plant them on a fall, the flowers pop up at spring before the trees evenly fell.