24 Perennial Planting Combinations That Look Stunning Together

Brighten up your yard with these perennial flower garden ideas.

Yellow Gaillardia, black and blue sage, and Shasta daisy
Photo: Jamie Hadley

What blooms with what? That's one of the big questions gardeners struggle with. This list of the best perennial planting combinations will help you create the most eye-catching pairings and fill your garden with color throughout the seasons.

01 of 24

Pair Perennials and Roses

Pink knockout rose and blue salvia plant
Deb Wiley

Add structure and beauty to your perennial planting combinations by including a generous selection of roses. Plant shrub roses in clumps or drifts to provide a solid mass of bloom where you need color the most. The pink 'Knock Out' rose is an eye-catching companion for blue salvia in this border.

02 of 24

Rely on Classic Native Plants

Black Eyed Susan and Purple Cone Flowers
Jack Coyier Photography

If you want a colorful garden but don't have much time to fuss over it, select easy-care classics like coneflower and black-eyed Susan, which are native across much of North America. These heat- and drought-resistant plants bloom from summer to fall with minimum care. This perennial planting combination makes beautiful bouquets you can enjoy all summer.

03 of 24

Yucca Makes a Drought-Tolerant Partner for Lilies

Yucca with bright red Asiatic lily
Matthew Benson

When you think of perennials, yucca probably isn't the first plant that comes to mind. But besides its handsome, spiky foliage, yucca is also prized for its tall, fragrant clumps of creamy white bell-shaped blooms. Its nectar-rich flowers will also lure colorful hummingbirds to your yard. In this country garden, yuccas bloom alongside a patch of bright red Asiatic lily.

04 of 24

Mix Contrasting Flower Shapes

Purple Veronica and Coneflower
Rob Cardillo

Make your flower border more interesting by pairing beautiful planting combinations with different flower shapes. Here, for example, the skinny, bright blue flower spikes of veronica contrast nicely with coneflower's flat, rounded blooms. Planted individually, they're lovely but grown together, they put on an eye-popping show.

05 of 24

Brighten the Shade With Hosta and Astilbe

pink astilbe and hosta varieties
Matthew Benson

Electrify the darkest corners of your landscape with colorful perennial combinations for shade. Here, the rosy-red flowers of astilbe glow when paired with chartreuse and blue-green leaf hostas. These perennials are super easy to grow and thrive in low-light conditions.

06 of 24

Hydrangeas Make a Beautiful Backdrop for Perennials

'Annabelle' hydrangea with red Astilbe
Lynn Karlin

Flowering shrubs and your favorite perennials make an ideal plant combination. Besides their colorful flowers, shrubs add architectural interest to your garden during the winter when perennials are dormant and out of view. In this partially shady border, 'Annabelle' hydrangea provides an avalanche of white flowers behind a colorful drift of red astilbe.

07 of 24

Jump-Start the Season With Bulbs and Colorful Foliage

'Blue Shades' Anemone with 'Caramel' Coral Bells
Peter Krumhardt

Give your garden a boost of spring color by mixing bulbs with early-bird perennials. Here, 'Blue Shades' anemone pops into bloom just as the first leaves of 'Caramel' coral bells start to unfurl. To create the best bulb and perennial planting combinations, tuck bulbs around existing plants in the fall.

Other reliable bulbs for extra early-spring color include snowdrops ($14, Breck's), crocus ($19, Breck's), Scilla ($12, Dutch Grown), Puschkinia ($26, Dutch Grown), narcissus, and Eranthis ($12, Breck's).

08 of 24

Pair Native Wildflowers Like Trillium and Lady's Slipper

'Roseum' trillium and yellow lady's slipper
Andre' Baranowski

Don't overlook native wildflowers when you plan your shade garden. These easy-care plants might not be as showy as hostas or astilbe, but they bloom early in various unique flower forms and colors. Just give them rich, moist soil and enjoy their spirit-lifting blooms. In this shady border, 'Roseum' trillium and yellow lady's slipper are a feast for the eyes in April and May.

09 of 24

Don't Forget Fall Flowers

Sedum spectabile and wood's purple aster
Mike Jensen

Keep your garden looking great through the end of summer and fall by including a generous helping of late-blooming perennials. They may seem idle during the spring and summer, but these hardworking plants burst into bloom when autumn comes. Here, Sedum spectabile and wood's purple aster provide a colorful finale to the perennial border. They also both attract hordes of colorful butterflies to your garden.

10 of 24

Add Fragrance with Lilies and Phlox

Oriental lily and phlox
Rich Pomerantz

Choose perennial planting combinations that are as fragrant as they are colorful, and you can enjoy the plants on a summer's night as they release their scent on the warm evening air. In this border, Oriental lily and phlox are a double-sweet pairing.

11 of 24

Attract Pollinators with Bee Balm and Salvia

pink bee balm and salvia
Denny Schrock

Lure bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects to your garden by selecting plants with an abundance of nectar-rich flowers. In this bed, these helpful bugs and people can enjoy a gorgeous mass of pink bee balm planted next to a salvia bed that attracts insects from miles around.

12 of 24

Mix Interesting Foliage for Long-Lasting Color

'Frosty Morn' sedum and 'Tricolor' ajug
Kritsada Panichgul

Perennials with variegated leaves add plenty of color to the garden even when not in bloom. Look for varieties that sport foliage that's speckled or splashed with different colors. Here, 'Frosty Morn' sedum and 'Tricolor' ajuga are an eye-catching perennial combination all season long, even though the plants don't bloom simultaneously.

13 of 24

Create Elegant Monochromatic Gardens

Close up of Goatsbeard and Chamomile
Matthew Benson

In the 1930s, the renowned English gardener Vita Sackville-West created one of the most famous all-white gardens at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. Today, you can create a similar look in your yard by teaming white-flowering perennials together in a bed. In this border, the feathery cream-color blooms of goatsbeard pair beautifully with chamomile's cheerful, snow-white flowers in the late spring and early summer.

14 of 24

Evoke a Cottage Style With Hollyhock and Heliopsis

Cottage style garden with yellow and pink flowers
Andrew Drake

A cottage garden's romantic, informal style will work with almost any home. Cottage gardens contain an overstuffed mix of old-fashioned favorites, native plants, and modern hybrids. For example, pairing pink hollyhock and yellow heliopsis can make a well-tended garden bed look like a patch of native wildflowers.

15 of 24

Coordinate Flowering Shrubs with Colorful Perennials

Brewer garden with flowering shrubs
Jamie Hadley

As versatile as they are colorful, flowering shrubs should play a starring role in your perennial border. Some of the best low-growing bloomers include azalea, viburnum, spirea, hydrangea, and potentilla. Plus, some shrubs like this Spirea bumalda 'Goldflame' ($95, Nature Hills) produce colorful flowers and foliage. This easy-care mounding plant blends beautifully with the blue flower spikes of 'May Night' perennial salvia.

16 of 24

Add Height With Mallow and Lilies

Pink mallow and yellow Asiatic lilies
Peter Krumhardt

Give your flower garden a layered look by planting tall, vertical species at the back of the border. They act as a colorful focal point to draw the eye and give the garden visual balance. In this border, pink mallow, which can grow 4 feet tall, teams with 3-foot-tall yellow Asiatic lilies to provide a spectacular backdrop of bloom. Other tall perennials include garden phlox, heliopsis, Oriental lilies ($13-$21, Holland Bulb Farms), delphinium, allium, and lupine.

17 of 24

Pair Woodland Perennials Like Ferns and Foam Flower

Cinnamon ferns and tiarella
Celia Pearson

When you design your garden, remember green is also a color; mix different hues to make a memorable garden without relying on a circus of bright flowers. In this shady corner, tall cinnamon ferns tower over a subtle bed of white-flower tiarella, giving the space a sophisticated yet restful look. Cinnamon fern gets its name from the cinnamon-color fibers found near the frond bases.

18 of 24

Grow Tropical Plants for Bold Color

Red Hibiscus and small blue flowers
Paul Vandevelder

You don't have to live in the tropics to enjoy hibiscus's big, bold blooms. These warm-weather beauties have a variety of cold-hardy relatives that prefer growing in the north. Hardy hibiscus is easy to care for, often growing 6 feet tall in one season and producing dinner-plate-sized flowers in the late summer and fall. Each winter, they'll die back to the ground but pop back up when the temperatures soar in the early summer. In this garden, this red-flowered hibiscus makes a stunning pair with Delphinium elatum.

19 of 24

Include Multicolor Flowers for a Two-Tone Show

Purple irises in field
Laurie Black

Most perennials come in solid colors, but some offer varieties with bicolor blooms. Bearded iris, peony, coreopsis, gaillardia, and phlox are just some examples of perennials with bicolor options. And by selecting bicolor varieties, you'll double the color in your beds and borders. In this spring border, it just takes purple allium and bicolor bearded iris to create a tapestry of bloom.

20 of 24

Flowering Vine Plants Can Brighten Fences and Arbors

yellow coneflowers with clematis blooms
Bob Stefko

The crowning glory of any landscape, flowering vines will quickly envelop a fence or arbor in color. But left unchecked, some vines, such as trumpet vine or wisteria, may smother perennials growing nearby. On the other hand, Clematis only grows 5-10 feet tall, making it ideal for a perennial planting combination with flowers. This sun-loving vine also comes in various flower shapes and colors, giving you plenty of options for any garden style. In this border, 'Jackmanii' clematis and 'Harvest Moon' coneflower are a feast for the eyes.

21 of 24

Consider Year-Round Appeal

Dwarf junipers, arborvitae, and daylilies
Kindra Clineff

Sadly, most perennials die back to the ground after the first hard freeze. This means that your border in cold climates will look bare for several months of the year. Team some low-growing evergreens with your perennial flowers instead of having nothing to look at during long winter days. They'll provide consistent color during the spring and summer; in the winter, they'll keep the color show going. In this border, dwarf junipers and arborvitae stand guard over clumps of daylilies and other flowers.

22 of 24

Include Tender Perennials

Cannas with serpentine perennial border
Rob Cardillo

Large-leaved cannas make a dramatic statement in any garden. These heat-loving plants are perennial in frost-free regions, but they must be dug and stored over the winter in the north (because they're not cold-hardy, they're called tender perennials). Available in standard types that can grow 6-8 feet tall and dwarfs below 4 feet tall, cannas easily squeeze into the flower border. In this garden, a mass of red- and green-leaf cannas form a wall of color at the end of a long, winding perennial border.

23 of 24

Plant Perennials in Large Groups

Oriental lilies and eryngium
Kindra Clineff

Building a gorgeous garden isn't like building an ark. You don't need two of everything to make a big impact. Instead, group your favorite perennial combinations in large drifts or clumps that take your breath away when they all bloom simultaneously. This border, for example, stands out because it contains a solid ribbon of more than 20 Oriental lilies behind a large clump of blue-gray eryngium.

24 of 24

Grow a Living Bouquet

Yellow Gaillardia, black and blue sage, and Shasta daisy
Jamie Hadley

If you aren't sure what perennial planting combinations work best, think about what flowers would make a beautiful bouquet. If perennials look good in a vase, they'll certainly look good in your garden. In this mixed border, perennial salvia, yellow gaillardia, and Shasta daisy work together as a living flower arrangement.

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