19 Hard-to-Kill Perennials That Promise Unstoppable Color Every Year

pink phlox bloom cluster
Photo: Bob Stefko

Add some flower power to your garden year after year with these tough-as-nails hardy perennials. Each of these plants can withstand freezing temperatures and other challenging weather conditions, then come back with beautiful blooms every year.

01 of 19

Daylily

Lavender Vista daylily
Dean Schoeppner

Practically indestructible, daylilies (Hemerocallis) will flower profusely in almost any sunny spot. They are drought-tolerant and insect-resistant and offer a wide range of colors and bicolors. Daylilies are also available in early-, mid-, and late-season bloomers. For an all-season flower show plant a few of each in your garden. Or, grow daylily varieties that are repeat bloomers, flowering from spring until fall. These easy-care perennials eventually form large clumps that should be divided every three to four years to keep them blooming their best.

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

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Multicolor Daylily Flowering Shrub

02 of 19

Barrenwort

epimedium, barrenwort or Bishop’s Hat
Marty Baldwin

One of the best shade perennials, barrenwort (Epimedium spp.) is a real garden workhorse. This hardy groundcover offers both colorful foliage and flowers. It's also highly drought resistant which makes it an ideal choice for shady locations with dry soil. Depending on the variety you grow and your region, the plants may also remain evergreen through the winter. Epimedium spreads slowly, gradually carpeting your garden with color.

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

Size: Up to 12 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: 'Pretty in Pink' Barrenwort ($14, Great Garden Plants)

03 of 19

Tickseed

small yellow daisy-like threadleaf coreopsis perennial flowers
Marty Baldwin

Hot, dry weather won't stop tickseed (Coreopsis spp.) from flowering all summer long. This American native is one of the most reliable perennials you can grow. The plants produce large quantities of yellow, orange, pink, white, red, or bicolored blooms that dance on wiry stems every time the wind blows. They also have few insect or disease problems. Foliage varies between species and can be either threadlike or broad. To promote even more flowers, remove faded blooms as they appear.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Coreopsis Zagreb Plant ($11, Etsy)

04 of 19

Russian Sage

russian sage perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian Sage. John Strauss

Add a burst of color to your late summer and fall garden with Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). This tough-as nails plant is native to central Asia, so it's capable of performing in hot, dry conditions. Its eye-popping bluish-purple flowers appear in mid to late summer and retain their color for weeks. Paired with the plant's fragrant, silvery foliage, Russian sage is a must-have for your garden. Russian sage grows 3 to 5 feet tall, dwarf forms are more compact reaching 3 feet in height.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Blue Jean Baby Russian Sage ($23, Breck's)

05 of 19

Hellebore

hellebore perennial shade
Robert Cardillo

Just when you think winter is never going to end, the spirit-lifting flowers of hellebores burst into bloom. Often called Lenten or Christmas rose because of their early-flowering season, hellebores excel as a perennial flower for shade where their nodding pink, white, rose, green, purple, yellow, spotted, or bicolored blooms bring welcome color to dark corners of the landscape. They also make perfect companions for spring-flowering bulbs such as Narcissus and Squill. Hellebores are also deer and rabbit resistant.

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

Size: Up to 2 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Hellebore Collection ($65, Breck's)

06 of 19

Sedum

sedum spunum dragon's blood
Peter Krumhardt

Put sedums on the top of your shopping list if you're looking for a perennial that requires almost no care. These scrappy plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and won't knuckle under to heat, drought, winter cold, or insects. One popular variety is called Dragon's Blood sedum. This fast-growing creeper has pretty red-and-green foliage, making it an excellent groundcover for sloping sites. Sedums prefer sunny locations, but they will also grow well in partial shade.

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

Size: Up to 6 inches tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Sedum Sunsparkler ($8, Walmart)

07 of 19

Baptisia

Baptisia flowers up close
Denny Schrock

Once established, Baptisia, also known as false indigo, can live for decades. In fact, in the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden®, several specimens have bloomed reliably every spring since they were planted in the 1950s. Baptisia is a large, shrub-like perennial that produces graceful stalks of blue, white, purple, or yellow flowers, followed by large seedpods filled with seeds. It has pretty, blue-green, pea-like foliage that looks terrific even when the plants are not in bloom.

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

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Baptisia 'Blueberry Sundae' ($15, Etsy)

08 of 19

Coneflower

Coneflower Perennial Flowers
Laurie Black

Native to the American prairie, coneflowers are one of the most widely grown and hybridized perennials in the country. In addition to single-flowering forms, there are also doubles and even triple, petal-packed varieties you can grow (just note that the petal-heavy flowers aren't as good for pollinators). Colors vary from the traditional purplish-pink to white, orange, yellow, and red. They bloom from early summer to fall and are attractive to birds and butterflies.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Purple Coneflower (from $14, Etsy)

09 of 19

Asiatic Lily

'Nove Cento' Asiatic lily
Marty Baldwin

The hardiest of all the lilies, Asiatics are almost foolproof. They grow quickly from bulbs planted in the fall or early spring and develop gorgeous, upward-facing flowers in a wide range of colors and bicolors. Bloom time varies by variety but most put on their biggest flower show in early to midsummer. Asiatic lilies also multiply fast, so you can dig and divide them every few years and spread them to other sunny spots in your garden. Some are also lightly fragrant.

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

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Lily Collection ($40, Breck's)

10 of 19

Hosta

Hosta
Matthew Benson

If you like variety, you can't go wrong with hostas. These shade dwellers are available in hundreds of different shapes, sizes, and colors, including giants that can grow 4 feet tall and dwarves that top out at 4 inches. Prized for their colorful foliage, hostas also produce lovely wands of blue, white, or lavender flowers during the summer (flowering time varies by variety). Hostas are a snap to care for and can be dug and divided to produce more plants whenever you need them.

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

Size: Up to 4 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Hosta Plant

11 of 19

Peony

punk bubbles peony blooms with bee
Blaine Moats

Make a long-term investment in your garden with peonies. These gorgeous sun lovers will bloom reliably for decades, getting bigger and better every year. Peonies are available in a variety of colors and flower forms including singles, doubles, and semi-doubles. The flowers are also delightfully fragrant, making them an ideal choice for fresh-cut bouquets. Although they vary slightly by variety, most peonies bloom in May and June, but even after they flower, their finely cut foliage provides interest in the flower border.

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

Size: Up to 7 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: 'Riches & Fame' Peony ($13, Breck's)

12 of 19

Catmint

Nepeta mussinii Persian Catmint
Denny Schrock

When in bloom during spring and summer, catmint (Nepeta spp.) becomes the star of the garden. The whole plant becomes covered with wands of rich blue flowers that stand up to heat and drought. Plus, after they finish blooming, you can shear the plant back by a third of its height and it'll bloom again in the late summer and early fall. Taller varieties that reach 3 feet high make excellent planting partners for roses, peonies, or ornamental grasses. Place shorter catmints that grow just 12 inches tall at the edge of your garden beds.

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

Size: Up to 3 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Catmint ($10, Etsy)

13 of 19

Cranesbill

'Rozanne' Geranium by path
Justin Hancock

Named for the shape of its seeds, cranesbill is also called perennial geranium. It produces white, pink, blue, or light purple flowers on slender, arching stems from late spring until fall. Most varieties also have mottled or veined leaves that add to the color show even when the plants are not in bloom, especially in fall when the foliage flushes red. The low-growing plants will spread to carpet an area.

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

Size: Up to 2 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Geranium sanguineum 'New Hampshire Purple'

14 of 19

Blazing Star

Blazing Star Liatris
Marty Baldwin

Growing wild in the American prairies, blazing star (Liatris spp.) is also a top pick for hot, sunny gardens. The plants don't mind heat and drought, and come in pink, purple or white flowering varieties. Blazing star forms a clump of narrow leaves that are topped in mid to late summer by 2-foot-tall spikes of bloom. This striking perennial is also a favorite with butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Blazing Star Seeds ($3, Etsy)

15 of 19

Garden Phlox

pink phlox bloom cluster
Bob Stefko

Every flower border should contain a generous helping of garden phlox. These classic perennials produce large, fragrant flower heads from mid-summer to fall. You can find varieties with pink, red, purple, white, or bicolor blooms and some also offer variegated foliage. In humid climates, look for mildew-resistant varieties. Garden phlox make excellent companions for roses, coneflower, and lilies.

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

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Tall Hybrid Phlox Mixture ($39, Breck's)

16 of 19

Oriental Lily

oriental lily perennial flower
Dean Schoeppner

Add color and fragrance to your flower borders with Oriental lilies (Lilium spp.). These spectacular plants produce bouquets of richly scented flowers from mid to late summer. Colors include pink, rose, white, pale orange, and cream. Many are also speckled and/or striped. Oriental lilies are easy to grow from bulbs planted in the spring or fall. Some of the taller varieties might require support in windy locations, so set stakes in the ground while the plants are young. The exquisite blooms make excellent cut flowers, but be sure to remove the stamens to avoid staining your clothes. Dig and divide the bulbs every few years in the fall to keep the plants vigorous.

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

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: 'Stargazer' Oriental Lily Bulbs ($18, Walmart)

17 of 19

Japanese Anemone

White 'Whirlwind' anemone
Greg Ryan

Add a shot of color to your fall garden with Japanese anemones (Anemone spp.). These cheerful flowers start blooming in mid to late summer and stay colorful through early autumn. The single, pure pink flowers appear on wiry, 2-foot-tall stems held high above the plant's dark green foliage. This pretty perennial can be slow to take hold, but with time it will form dense clumps and can naturalize an area.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade with rich, moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Anemone Honorine Jobert ($9, Etsy)

18 of 19

Culver's Root

culvers root veronicastrum
Bob Stefko

A native of the American prairie, culver's root (Veronicastrum virginicum) develops bold candelabras of white, pink, or light purple flowers all summer. The plant also has pretty, finely cut foliage that keeps it looking good even when it's not blooming. Culver's root is attractive to butterflies and other pollinators.

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

Size: Up to 7 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Culver's Root Seeds ($3, Etsy)

19 of 19

Moss Phlox

Creeping Phlox
Denny Schrock

The jewel-like flowers of moss phlox (Phlox subulata) open early in spring, often appearing alongside daffodils and tulips. This rugged little groundcover is an excellent candidate for rock gardens or slopes. Colors include violet, pink, white, blue, and bicolors. The plants are also deer resistant.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 10 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Live Plant Phlox ($8, Walmart)

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