No-Fail Perennials for the Midwest

Choose these easy-to-grow perennials for a bold, beautiful garden all summer long.

By Felder Rushing and Kelly Roberson


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Hemerocallis spp.
1/11

    Enjoy a great-looking landscape that's not a lot of work to maintain. Pick the right plants, then sit back and enjoy a yard that's filled with color all season long. We've pulled together some of the best perennials for the Midwest. Use these old-fashioned favorites in your garden for the best-looking yard on your block.

2/11
Peony

    Peonies are ultra tough -- and ultra beautiful. The plant practically rewards neglect with its gorgeous, showstopping early summer blooms that bring fragrance and add stunning beauty to cut flower arrangements.

    Plant Name: Paeonia officinalis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow it with: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Zones: 3-8

3/11
Hollyhock

    Though it's a biennial or short-lived perennial, hollyhock reseeds itself, so you can be sure you'll always have a crop of the colorful summertime spires in your yard.

    Plant Name: Alcea rosea

    Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Grow it with: Peony, which bloom earlier in the season. Plus, the good-looking peony foliage will help hide the hollyhock's less attractive leaves.

    Zones: 3-9

4/11
Artemisia

    Perennials with great-looking foliage are just as valuable as those with pretty blooms. Artemisia is a perfect example; this perennial offers silvery foliage that pairs well with flowers of every color.

    Plant Name: Artemisia selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Grow it with: Delphiniums, which create a stunning contrast with their upright, spiky habit.

    Zones: 3-8

5/11
Hosta

    Hostas are the ultimate shade-garden plants because they're so tough. They also offer a huge variety; look for varieties that grow from 6 inches to 6 feet wide -- and with leaves in shades of green, gold, or blue.

    Plant Name: Hosta selections

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 feet tall and wide, depending on type

    Grow it with: Ferns; their fine-textured foliage makes the perfect contrast to any hosta variety.

    Zones: 3-9

6/11
Daylily

    You can't get much easier to grow than a daylily. While the old-fashioned "ditch lilies" are fast-spreading and practically indestructible, newer varieties spread more slowly. Many bloom on and off throughout the summer, so you can enjoy their colorful flowers all season.

    Plant Name: Hemerocallis selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide

    Grow it with: Use a shrub, such as tough-as-nails ninebark, as a backdrop against daylilies.

    Zones: 3-10

7/11
Perennial Hibiscus

    This has to be one of the boldest plants in the garden. Offering flowers all summer long in shades of red, pink, and white, individual blooms can be as much as 12 inches across and keep on coming all the way through fall.

    Plant Name: Hibiscus moscheutos

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist soil

    Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide

    Grow it with: Spiderwort, which blooms before the late-waking hibiscus starts to grow.

    Zones: 5-10

8/11
Yarrow

    There are a lot of reasons to love yarrow: It's really heat and drought tolerant, it's usually ignored by hungry deer and rabbits, and it's a great cut flower. Plus, its summertime blooms appear in a rainbow of shades, from yellow to white, pink, and even terra cotta.

    Plant Name: Achillea millefolium

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Grow it with: Late-blooming sedums pick up after the yarrow stops blooming, so it's a great way to extend the season.

    Zones: 3-8

9/11
Purple Coneflower

    This perennial is as charming as it is tough; plant purple coneflower in virtually any sunny spot and it'll bloom all summer and into fall. Plus, coneflower's lavender, white, pink, yellow, orange, or green daisy-shape blooms look great in any design style, especially country or cottage gardens.

    Plant Name: Echinacea purpurea

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow it with: Add contrasting color with yellow yarrow.

    Zones: 3-9

10/11
Asparagus

    Asparagus rewards you twice. In spring, enjoy its tasty (and nutritious) young stems. Then in summer, it leafs out to become a big, fine-textured plant that's a beautiful backdrop for any perennial you grow with it.

    Plant Name: Asparagus officinalis

    Growing Conditions: Full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 feet tall and wide

    Grow it with: Purple coneflower, which blooms constantly through the summer and into the fall.

    Zones: 4-8

11/11
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