Perennials offer possibilities for every growing situation. As you contemplate digging into perennial gardening, approach it from the standpoint of solving landscape problems. There's a perennial that will thrive in every growing solution.
If you have a slope too steep for mowing, you can trade turf for perennial groundcover. Near downspouts and low spots in your yard where water gathers after downpours, moisture-loving perennials can transform an eyesore into a beauty spot. Be Inspired: Hillside landscaping ideas.
Where lower rainfall dictates water restrictions, tap into the world of xeriscape plants, which grow and flower profusely with little moisture. Natural deposits of acidic soil can support lovely perennials that will make you grateful for the locally low pH. Stop fighting to grow grass beneath shade trees -- plant shade-loving perennials instead!
You can even find perennials that serve as lawn stand-ins -- tidy, ground-hugging plants that withstand foot traffic and stay green year-round. In municipalities where surface runoff adds charges to your water bill, incorporating a rain garden filled with moisture-loving perennials will dissipate roof, driveway, or patio runoff into the soil and can reduce your water fees. Use this list of perennials adapted to various growing conditions to draft solutions to your landscaping problems.
Lobelia or Cardinal Flower Brilliant red or dark pink flowers in late summer to early fall
Goatsbeard Lacy, white flower plumes atop 3- to 5-foot-tall plants from early- to midsummer
Joe Pye Weed Large mauve blooms; up to 6 feet tall in late summer
Rodgersia Course texture; flower plumes in spring or summer
Sweet Flag Long-lasting swordlike foliage
Astilbe Long-lasting flower stalks in summer
Barrenwort Red, pink, white, purple, or bicolor blooms in early- to midspring
Foamflower White or light pink flowers in midspring
Hardy Begonia Heart-shape foliage; pink flowers in late summer
Hellebore or Lenten Rose Coarse-texture foliage; blooms in late winter to early spring
Lungwort Early-spring flowers and variegated foliage
Old-Fashioned Bleeding Heart Heart-shape pink flowers in spring
Woodland Phlox Fragrant blue, purple, pink, or white flowers in late spring
Anemone Late-Summer or fall flowers
Coralbells Many cultivars with colorful foliage
Creeping Baby's Breath White flowers in summer
Geranium Spring or summer flowers depending on species; foliage of many turns red in fall
Pincushion Flower Blue flowers on wiry stems summer to fall
Dianthus or Pinks White, pink, or red flowers in spring and summer; evergreen foliage in some areas
Blue Fescue Ornamental grass with bluish-green foliage
Catmint Fragrant foliage and lavender-blue flowers in early summer
Baptisia or False Indigo Pealike blue flowers in late spring followed by attractive seedpods
Liriope or Lilyturf Dark green grasslike foliage
Penstemon Desert species have bright flower colors, upright shape
Gaura Airy white or pink flower stalks from midsummer to fall
Yucca Rounded clump of upright foliage
Coreopsis Yellow flowers all summer
Hollyhock Summer flowers on tall spikes early to midsummer
Campion or Maltese Cross Silver foliage and scarlet flowers in early summer
Centaurea or Mountain Bluet Blue-violet flowers in midspring to early summer
Poppy Flowers with paperlike petals in late spring and early summer
Mallow Shrublike with white, pink, or purple-pink flowers all summer
Bear's Breeches Tall flower spikes in late spring to early summer and texture-rich foliage
Cinnamon Fern Reddish-brown fronds in center of plant
Fringed Bleeding Heart Finely cut foliage; flowers in summer
Liatris or Gayfeather Purple or white flower spikes in early- to midsummer
Bergenia Shiny evergreen foliage with pink blooms in early spring
Japanese Iris Showy flowers in late spring or summer
Hellebore or Lenten Rose Flowers in late summer
False Sunflower or Heliopsis Yellow, daisylike flowers native to the prairie
Geranium Many species with pink, purple, or white blooms for sun to part shade
Monkshood Late summer spikes of deep blue for shady sites
Obedient Plant Rapid spreader with pink or white candles of bloom
Yarrow Ferny foliage and drought-tolerant; golden-yellow, white, pink, red, or salmon-color blooms
Artemisia Silvery foliage is the key feature of this perennial
Blanket Flower Long bloom season of orange-red daisies marked with yellow
Baptisia or False Indigo Shrubby plant with spikes of blue, yellow, white, orange-red blooms in spring
Lavender Cotton Herb with fine texture in silvery gray or green foliage
Thyme Groundcover with pinkish-purple blooms
Yarrow Adapted to full sun and dry soils with wide range of bloom colors
Yucca Succulent with spiky foliage and trusses of white bell-shape blooms
Armeria or Sea Thrift Compact plant with grassy foliage and pink or white blooms
Blanket Flower Bicolor daisylike blooms on mounded plants
Butterfly Weed Brilliant orange blooms highly attractive to butterflies
Candytuft White blooms in spring on mounded evergreen foliage
Hens-and-Chicks Succulent with rosettes of green, pink, or purple foliage
Dianthus or Pinks Carnation relative with grassy blue-green foliage and fragrant pink, white, or red blooms
Shade- and moisture-lover with feathery plumes of blooms
Shade-tolerant groundcover with delicate-looking blooms
Lobelia or Cardinal Flower
Moisture-loving plant with spikes of brilliant red or dark pink blooms
Clustered spikes of pink bells
Hellebore or Lenten Rose
Late-winter bloomer in shades of pink, white, green, or purple
Perennial bulb with blooms or purple or white
Silvery-gray foliage and purple blooms in summer
Delphinium Long spikes of blue, purple, pink, or white flowers
Globeflower Yellow springtime blooms with feathery centers
Japanese Pimrose Moisture-loving plant with globes of pink, purple, or white blooms in spring
Lady's Mantle Chartreuse blooms over blue-green foliage
Lupine Upright spikes of pealike blooms in many shades
Monkshood Fall bloomer for shade
Poppy Crepelike blooms in spring in shades of orange, red, pink, or white
Blackberry Lily Orange blooms turn into black seed clusters.
Blanket Flower Adaptable daisy for tough sites.
Hardy Begonia Glossy green foliage with pink blooms.
Mexican Sage Deep purple blooms on silvery plants.
Muhlygrass Feathery foliage and white or pinkish blooms.
Threadleaf Coreopsis Finely dissected foliage with small yellow daisylike blooms.