These 16 Long-Living Perennials Will Thrive in Your Garden for Decades

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New England aster Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
Photo: Janet Mesic-Mackie

Plant perennials and they'll generally come back year after year, instead of needing replanting like annuals do. But not all perennials are alike. Some will bloom beautifully for a few seasons and then slowly decline unless you intervene, while others have some serious staying power, lasting for decades without needing much care from you. Here's a roundup of the longest-lasting perennial varieties to try in your garden.

01 of 16

Peony

pink peony flowers
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

If you want to leave a flowering legacy, plant peonies. These hardy perennials will last for decades. In fact, peonies that were planted in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden® in the 1950s are still vibrantly blooming today. Add grid stakes around your peonies to provide support when the plants are blooming to keep the flowers from toppling over.

Name: Paeonia

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

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

02 of 16

Liriope

liriope purple flowers grass-like leaves
Dean Schoeppner

Commonly called lilyturf, liriope is has narrow, grasslike foliage that can be green or variegted. It's an excellent groundcover or edging plant that is often planted to control erosion on steep slopes. This problem-solving perennial can persist for years. In fact, it has been found growing in long abandoned Southern gardens.

Name: Liriope

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

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 5-10

03 of 16

Daylily

daylily yellow flowers
Bob Stefko

As tough as they are long-lived, daylilies are rugged enough to grow and bloom in commercial landscapes, along highways, and steep hillsides. Available in a seemingly endless assortment of colors, bicolors, and flower forms, daylilies will persist for years in your garden. They need to be divided every few years to keep them blooming, but the plants will remain alive even if you ignore them.

Name: Hemerocallis

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

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' ($15, White Flower Farm)

04 of 16

Hosta

Montana Aureomarginata Hosta
Greg Ryan

Year after year you can rely on hostas to brighten shady corners of your landscape. Varieties for your shade garden are available in numerous colors, sizes, leaf shapes, and textures. Their only enemies are snails, slugs, and deer, so if you can keep those pests at bay, you'll be able to enjoy hostas long after you plant them.

Name: Hosta

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Mixed Hosta Value Bag ($19, Walmart)

05 of 16

Iris

yellow iris flower
Rob Cardillo

The iris family boasts a large number of long-lived relatives. Bearded iris, shown here, can often be found blooming around abandoned houses or in historic cemeteries. Siberian and African irises are two other species that will persist in your garden with little attention from you. All irises, including those that rebloom, need to be divided every few years to promote flowering, but they'll live on even without the extra attention.

Name: Iris

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10 for Bearded; 3-8 for Siberian; 9-11 for African

Buy It: Iris germanica 'Sun Shine In' ($15, White Flower Farm)

06 of 16

Oriental Poppy

prince of orange papaver oriental poppy
David Nevala

After seeing its crepe-paperlike blooms, you might think that Oriental poppy is a delicate plant, but this power perennial will thrive despite the toughest conditions. In fact, it's been found growing around long-neglected farmsteads. Native to Central Asia, Oriental poppies survive summer drought by going dormant after they flower in the spring and then reappear in the early fall. Once poppies are established in the garden, it's best not to move them; however, poppies can be divided and transplanted in the fall, if necessary.

Name: Papaver orientale

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-7

Buy It: Papaver orientale 'Türkenlouis' ($19, White Flower Farm)

07 of 16

Baptisia

Baptisia australis
Susan Gilmore

Commonly called false indigo, baptisia is a native prairie plant that's been given a modern makeover with a number of new color options. These tall, mounding perennials develop gorgeous spikes of pea-like flowers and blue-green foliage that's pretty enough to stand on its own. Because it's naturally drought- and insect-resistant, baptisia will last for decades in your garden. It's relatively slow growing, so buy the largest plant you can find to enjoy its flowers as soon as possible.

Name: Baptisia australis

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

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

08 of 16

Sedum

sedum perennial
Peter Krumhardt

Drought-tolerant and almost foolproof, sedums return year after year. There are many species of sedum to choose from, but some of the best sedums are the groundcover varieties, such as 'Dragon's Blood', shown here. These beautiful rock garden plants will slowly carpet your garden with color even under extreme weather conditions.

Name: Sedum

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 inches tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Dragon's Blood Sedum ($10, Etsy)

09 of 16

Catmint

catmint purple flowers
Edward Gohlich

Pollinators can't seem to get enough of catmint (also called nepeta). Add these fuss-free plants to sunny beds and borders, where they'll develop wands of pretty blue or white nectar-rich flowers from late spring into summer. After flowering, cut back flower spikes to encourage more blooms. The tidy mounds of green, aromatic foliage look attractive on their own, too.

Name: Nepeta

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

Size: To 30 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Nepeta 'Cat's Pajamas' ($17, White Flower Farm)

10 of 16

New England Aster

New England aster Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
Janet Mesic-Mackie

A native wildflower, New England aster is a top choice for providing late season color for your garden. This bold perennial is literally smothered in pink or purplish blue flowers from late summer into fall. It's a favorite plant for butterflies, particularly migrating monarchs, which flock to the nectar-rich blooms. Pinching the plant before mid-July helps keep it a bit more compact, but staking might still be necessary.

Name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Grape Crush' ($17, White Flower Farm)

11 of 16

Agapanthus

agapanthus africanus
Karlis Grants

A super reliable and long-lived perennial in warm climate areas, agapanthus produces tall flower stalks with colorful balls of white or blue trumpet-shape flowers that make a great fresh cut flower. The plants also have straplike evergreen foliage (much like daylilies) that looks lush even when the plants are not in bloom. In Northern gardens, grow agapanthus in containers and move the plants indoors during the winter.

Name: Agapanthus

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade

Size: To 4 feet tall

Zones: 6-10

Buy It: Ever White Agapanthus ($18, The Home Depot)

12 of 16

Wisteria

wisteria purple flowers tree over fence
Denny Schrock

Often blooming for generations, wisteria vine is treasured for its trailing blue or white fragrant spring flowers. A vigorous climber, wisteria requires strong support because as the vine matures it can become heavy enough to collapse lightweight arbors or trellises. In northern climates, some wisteria varieties will grow but not bloom because the flower buds freeze during the winter. Look for a variety, such as 'Blue Moon', that was developed specifically for colder regions. In the south, look for the native varieties that are less aggressive than the Asian species.

Name: Wisteria

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 25 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Wisteria floribunda Lavender Falls ($34, White Flower Farm)

13 of 16

Trumpet Vine

Yellow trumpet vine
Jay Wilde

Hummingbirds will flock to your garden if you've got a trumpet vine in bloom. This vigorous native plant will quickly scramble up and over trellises, fences, and arbors, producing quantities of trumpet-shape crimson, yellow, or orange flowers all summer long. However, trumpet vine can become weedy, sending up suckers throughout your garden and self-seeding, so it's best to give it plenty of space. Some varieties, such as 'Apricot' and 'Indian Summer' stay more compact so are easier to keep under control.

Name: Campsis radicans

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and average soil

Size: To 40 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Trumpet Vine (from $10, Etsy)

14 of 16

Heliopsis

Heliopsis flowers up close
Kindra Clineff

Often called false sunflower or oxeye daisy, heliopsis is a native wildflower that develops wave after wave of cheerful yellow blooms in mid to late summer. It's an unfussy perennial that will flower even in poor soil or during times of drought. Its nectar-filled flowers draw butterflies and other pollinators.

Name: Heliopsis

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

15 of 16

Moss Phlox

moss phlox creeping perennial groundcover with pink blossoms
Peter Krumhardt

One of the shortest members of the phlox family, moss phlox, puts on a big spring flower show every year. Covered in blue, pink, white, or violet blooms, this low-growing plant makes an excellent groundcover for small slopes or rock gardens. To maintain its form and to jumpstart a possible rebloom, cut back its stems after flowering by one half.

Name: Phlox subulata

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Phlox subulata 'Scarlet Flame' ($15, White Flower Farm)

16 of 16

Yarrow

moonshine yarrow achillea yellow flowers
Bob Stefko

A tough native perennial, yarrow doesn't mind drought or poor soil. It produces flat flower heads above lacy foliage in mid to late summer. Flower colors vary from yellow, cream, pink, red, or bicolor. The plants can become floppy by late summer, so cut them back right after flowering to encourage compact growth and an additional flush of bloom.

Name: Achillea millefolium

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate' ($16, White Flower Farm)

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