No-Fail Perennials of the Pacific Northwest

Add these old-fashioned favorites to your yard; they're among the easiest perennials you can grow.

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  • If you're like us, you want a great-looking landscape that's not a lot of work to keep up. While it sounds like a challenge, it may not be as tough as you think. Pick the right plants and you can enjoy a colorful, almost carefree yard. We've pulled together some of the easiest-to-grow perennials in the Pacific Northwest. These old-fashioned favorites are so reliable, you may see them thriving in yards where no one's cared for them in years. Grow them so you can have the best-looking yard in your neighborhood.

  • Shasta Daisy

    Shasta daisy's simple cheery flowers, with a sunny yellow center surrounded by crisp white petals, are perfect for creating a ton of garden charm. We love it because it's more than just pretty; it's a great cut flower and it attracts butterflies all summer long.

    Plant Name: Leucanthemum x superbum

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

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Grow it with: Try the small-sized blooms and leaves of the silvery gray and lavender Russian sage.

    Zones: 5-8

  • Dahlia

    There are thousands of dahlias for the garden, and almost every variety offers a different color or texture. From glowing yellows to rich burgundies, or little buttons to flowers bigger than your head, it seems like these great cut flowers have it all. Don't be overwhelmed, though -- they're all beautiful and charming. Any dahlia you pick is sure to be a perfect choice.

    Plant Name: Dahlia selections

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

    Size: To 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Grow it with: Create an interesting contrast with spiky, upright liatris.

    Zones: 5-8

  • Sword Fern

    Ferns are classic picks for shady gardens. Sword fern is an especially great pick because its arching, deep, green fronds adds fantastic texture. There's another thing to love about this fern: It's evergreen, so you can enjoy its rich color all year long.

    Plant Name: Polystichum munitum

    Growing Conditions: Fertile, rich, well-drained soil, deep or partial shade

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Grow it with: Use variegated hostas for contrast in color and leaf shape.

    Zones: 3-8

  • Solomon's Seal

    This plant may look delicate because of its graceful, arching form and dangling summertime bell-shape flowers, but it's actually a tough-as-nails wildflower for the shade. It slowly forms large colonies, so it's perfect for sharing with gardening friends -- or for replacing shaded areas of the lawn where grass struggles to survive.

    Plant Name: Polygonatum odoratum

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Grow it with: Pair this woodland plant with standards such as ferns and hostas.

    Zones: 3-8

  • Primrose

    Grow a variety of primroses in your garden and you'll always know what time it is; different selections open their beautiful trumpet-shaped white, pink, or yellow flowers at various points during the day. We're especially fond of the evening primroses, whose flowers practically glow in moonlight.

    Plant Name: Oenothera selections

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and wide

    Grow it with: Pair with another summerlong bloomer, such as 'Rozanne' perennial geranium.

    Zones: 3-8

  • Wild Ginger

    The springtime flowers hide behind carpets of kidney-shape, dark green leaves, but it's the shiny, evergreen foliage of this great ground cover that takes center stage. Wondering where the common name comes from? Brush your hand near their roots and you'll come away with a smell of ginger.

    Plant Name: Asarum europeaum

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

    Size: Full shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Grow it with: Add fullness with the bushy growth and color of toad lily.

    Zones: 4-8

  • Cardinal Flower

    Cardinal flower bears some of the brightest red flowers we've ever seen; they appear on spikes in late summer and simply scream for attention. Chances are you won't be the first in your yard to notice, though. This perennial is a hummingbird favorite and they'll be all over it by the time the first bloom opens.

    Plant Name: Lobelia cardinalis

    Growing Conditions: Sun or shade and moist soil

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

    Grow it with: Add low-growing waves of contrasting colored petunias.

    Zones: 2-8

  • Lupine

    Lupines are great for adding architectural interest to the landscape with their upright spires of flowers. Some are small, some are tall, but all are showy. They come in a wide range of colors, too -- from shades of blue and purple to pink, red, orange, yellow, and white -- so you're sure to find the perfect one for your yard.

    Plant Name: Lupinus spp.

    Growing Conditions: Moderately fertile, light, slightly acidic soil, full sun or partial shade

    Size: To 3 feet tall and 1 foot wide

    Grow it with: Try a complete opposite with the snowball shapes of viburnum.

    Zones: 5-8


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