24 of the Best Perennials for Adding Color to Your Garden

yellow hardy yarrow perennial blossom clusters
Photo: Peter Krumhardt

Whether you're a beginning gardener or a pro, these popular perennials are some of the best to include in your garden. They're easy to grow, and once you plant them, they'll keep on coming back every spring to fill your landscape with their beautiful flowers and foliage.

01 of 24

Blanket Flower

blanket flower gaillardia drought- and heat-tolerant perennial
David Speer

A drought- and heat-tolerant perennial wildflower, blanket flower (Gaillardia) provides long-lasting color, even in spots with poor soil. In red, gold, or brown, its daisy-like, 3-inch wide, single or double perennial flowers bloom through the summer and into the fall. Although often short-lived, it's easy to grow and will flower the first year from seed.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in dry soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Blanket Flower 'Sunset Cutie' ($12, Jackson & Perkins)

02 of 24

Veronica

purple spikes of veronica perennial
Mark Kane

The 7-inch spikes of veronica bloom in shades of blue or red from early summer through fall. In the North, veronica prefers sun, but it likes a bit of shade in the South. Grow these perennial plants at the front of your flower bed.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil (can tolerate dry soil)

Size: Up to 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-11

03 of 24

Tall Garden Phlox

pink tall garden phlox paniculata perennial
Marty Baldwin

Phlox paniculata (garden, tall, or border phlox) produces large trusses of fragrant perennial flowers from summer to early fall. It's an old-fashioned favorite that has few rivals for its color display and light, sweet fragrance. It's well-suited as a border plant for the back of your yard and cottage gardens.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

04 of 24

Russian Sage

light purple full-sun russian sage perennial
Peter Krumhardt

Suited to larger gardens, this giant creates clouds of blue flowers in late summer. Russian sage is a full sun perennial and is tolerant of drought and heat. Plant these perennial flowers at the back of the bed and give them room to grow.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

05 of 24

Perennial Sage

may night deep purple perennial salvia
Peter Krumhardt

The salvia family includes both annuals and perennials that make beautiful garden plants. Hybrid perennial sage (Salvia x sylvestris) a relative of the herb garden favorite, is an especially pretty and easy-care plant. It produces 18-inch spikes of blue, purple, or white flowers in late spring. It will often rebloom in summer if deadheaded. The variety shown here, 'May Night', is both cold-hardy and showy.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: May Night Salvia ($16, The Home Depot)

06 of 24

Asters

purple asters
Marty Baldwin

A staple of the fall garden, asters burst forth with their starlike perennial flowers in late summer and autumn. Bloom colors include rich pinks, blues, purples, and ruby reds. They can soar to 5 feet, depending on the species, and are excellent for beds and borders as well as for cutting to bring indoors.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in consistently moist, well-drained soils

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

07 of 24

Astilbe

pink feathery astilbe perennial plumes
Bryan E. McCay

The feathery plumes of astilbe rise above fernlike foliage for a month or more in late spring and early summer. Available in shades of pink, white, and red, astilbes are some of the best perennials for shady, moist spots. Plant a swath of these perennial flowers for a memorable display year after year.

Light: Full sun or part sun

Water: Plant in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: Astilbe Mixture Super Sak ($40, Breck's)

08 of 24

Purple Coneflower

detail of purple coneflower perennial bloom
David Speer

This native prairie wildflower looks especially beautiful when you plant the 'Magnus' variety, which throws its petals out horizontally, daisy-style. Coneflower tolerates heat and drought, and it blooms all summer long. Plant these tall perennial flowers in the middle or back of the bed.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 30 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Coneflower Mixture ($12, The Home Depot)

09 of 24

Switchgrass

north american native switchgrass perennial
Marty Baldwin

A gorgeous North American native prairie grass, switchgrass offers the garden multi-seasonal texture and easy maintenance. Most varieties grow 2-6 feet tall and produce showy seed plumes from mid-summer into fall. Some also have rich red or purple foliage in autumn.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

Buy It: Northwind Switchgrass (from $9, Etsy)

10 of 24

Yarrow

yellow hardy yarrow perennial blossom clusters
Peter Krumhardt

Even if you've never gardened before, you can grow yarrow without much effort. Yarrow is a tough perennial that is hardy throughout most of the United States and can withstand heat, drought, and cold. This plant features ferny, gray-green or dark green, spicy-scented foliage and showy, flat-topped clusters of flowers in pink, red, white, or yellow appearing from late spring to early fall.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Terracotta Yarrow ($15, Etsy)

11 of 24

Peony

fuchsia pink peony blossoms perennial detail
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

Often sweetly fragrant, peony flowers are showstoppers because of their large size and bright hues. Numerous varieties offer a wide range of colors (almost every shade except blue) with some bicolors, and blooming periods from late spring to early summer. They make excellent additions to fresh cut bouquets if you can bear to remove them from your garden. Plus, peonies are very long-lived perennials that don't need a lot of care.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

12 of 24

Coreopsis

zagreb threadleaf coreopsis perennial
Marty Baldwin

Native to North America, you'll find perennial coreopsis (also called tickseed) in a range of sizes and several colors from yellow and white to pink and red. Two of the best types for flower gardens are the threadleaf varieties (Coreopsis verticillata) like 'Moonbeam' and 'Zagreb' (shown here) and large-flowered varieties (Coreopsis grandiflora) like 'Early Sunrise'. Both produce small daisy-like flowers all summer long if deadheaded, drawing plenty of pollinators.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in slightly dry, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

13 of 24

Siberian Iris

detail of purple siberian iris perennial bloom
Stephen Cridland

Like most irises, Siberian iris is a moisture-loving plant, but once established it'll tolerate dry soil. These plants add color to flower beds in early summer, and vertical accents all summer long. The blooms appear atop leafless stems rising from the grasslike foliage. Colors include white, blue, yellow, and violet, with many bicolors. In addition to brightening the garden, Siberian iris provides a steady supply of cut flowers.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 40 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Siberian Blue Iris Roots ($30, Etsy)

14 of 24

Penstemon

'Husker Red' penstemon
Mike Jensen

This native perennial produces attractive spikes of tubular perennial flowers in pink, blue, lavender, white, or shades of red from late spring to early summer. Some varieties also offer colorful foliage, such as 'Husker Red' developed by the University of Nebraska, which combines white flowers and reddish-purple leaves and stems. Penstemon works best in the middle or back of the bed, but make sure it can get plenty of sunshine.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soils

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

15 of 24

Pincushion Flower

pincushion flower scabiosa with blue perennial flowers
Mark Kane

One of the longest-blooming perennials for your garden is pincushion flower (Scabiosa). It produces dainty purplish blue flowers from spring into fall with deadheading. Each bloom sits atop a long, wiry stem, which seem to dance in a breeze. The ferny foliage stays lower to the ground, so you can place them toward the front of your flower bed or border.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-11

Buy It: Scabiosa Formula Mix Seeds ($5, Etsy)

16 of 24

Moss Phlox

moss phlox creeping perennial groundcover with pink blossoms
Peter Krumhardt

Perfect for rock gardens, alongside paved areas, the front of raised perennial gardens, or as a groundcover on a slope, moss phlox (Phlox subulata) forms a dense, creeping mat up to 6 inches high and 2 feet wide. The small leaves are slightly prickly, and the entire plant is covered with fragrant white, pink, blue, lavender, or red flowers in spring. The foliage of this native plant is semi-evergreen in the North and evergreen in the South.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 inches tall (can spread up to 2 feet)

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: Blue Carpet Creeping Phlox ($18, Lowe's)

17 of 24

Black-Eyed Susan

orange-yellow black-eyed susan flowers with dragonfly garden decor
Andrew Drake

Truly an American icon, black-eyed Susan blooms from midsummer until frost; its orange or golden yellow blooms just keep coming. Heat, humidity, or drought don't slow it down. Plus, pollinators and birds love the flowers and seeds. The variety 'Goldsturm', shown here, tops out at about 2 feet, making it perfect for the middle or back of the bed.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-11

Buy It: 'Goldsturm' Black-Eyed Susan (from $10, Etsy)

18 of 24

Stonecrop

bright pink and white sedum perennial detail with fleshy leaves
Jerry Pavia

The fleshy leaves and spectacular flowers make tall sedum (also called stonecrop) a popular perennial. It's practically foolproof as long as the soil doesn't stay overly moist. It blooms toward the end of summer into fall when most other flowers are fading. Plus, the dried flower stems add winter interest if you leave them in place.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

Buy It: Autumn Joy Sedum ($15, Breck's)

19 of 24

Coralbells

Heuchera 'Midnight Bayou' Coralbells
Samantha Hedum

This front-of-the-bed favorite has plenty of attractive qualities. Chief among them is the crinkly, multicolored foliage. You can find coralbells (Heuchera) in just about any shade from very dark purple to vibrant yellow. Airy wands of small, bell-shape flowers appear above the tidy mounds of foliage in late spring.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

20 of 24

Hardy Hibiscus

plate-sized hardy hibiscus perennial blossom
Denny Schrock

Unlike their tropical cousins, hardy hibiscus will overwinter as far north as Zone 4. Although they die back to the ground each year, hardy hibiscus can grow 5-6 feet tall in one season, producing an eye-popping show of dinner-plate-size blooms. Colors include white, pink, red, and yellow, often with a contrasting "eye" of color in the center of each bloom. Hardy hibiscus can be slow to break dormancy in the spring and won't grow until soil temperatures heat up.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Zones: 4-9

21 of 24

Daylily

daylily hemerocallis little grapette
Peter Krumhardt

Talk about versatile! Daylilies come in a seemingly endless selection of colors and flower types and will flourish in almost any situation. Although they are sun worshippers, they will still produce flowers (although a lesser amount) when grown in light shade. Daylilies are also tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and won't slow down even during times of drought. Some daylily varieties bloom on and off all summer, while others will put on a big dramatic show once a year. They don't need to be coddled to survive as long as you keep weeds at bay.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-10

22 of 24

Chrysanthemum

bright orange chrysanthemum perennial blooms
Bob Stefko

Create some fireworks in your fall garden with a generous helping of chrysanthemums. These autumn bloomers work just as well in containers as they do in a border. Flowers are available in red, orange, purple, white, and yellow, and vary in size from cute buttonlike blooms to softball-size giants. Chrysanthemums will come back every year, but they have a tendency to die out after a few seasons. That's why it's a good idea to plant new chrysanthemums every year.

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Plant in evenly moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

23 of 24

Asiatic Lily

pink double asiatic lily 'elodie' perennial bloom
Bob Stefko

For reliable summer color, you can't beat Asiatic lilies. These bright charmers are available in a cheerful variety of yellow, orange, red, white, cream, rose, purple, and bicolors. These lilies grow easily from bulbs planted in the spring or fall. Each year, these vigorous plants form bigger and better clumps, which you can dig and divide to share with friends or spread around your garden.

Light: Full sun

Water: Plant in well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

24 of 24

Hosta

Cu Var Green Blue Hosta White Impat
Charles Mann

For those shady corners of your landscape, you can always count on hostas. Colorful and reliable, these shade-loving perennials vary from 4-inch-tall dwarfs to 4-foot-tall giants. Although prized for their beautiful blue, green, chartreuse, or bicolor foliage, hostas also send up lovely spikes of pink, lavender, or white flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These easy-care shade plants are almost impossible to kill, but slugs and snails can chew up the leaves and deer also love to eat hostas, so be prepared to do battle if these pests are common in your region. Hostas grow well in containers, too, so try adding some of your favorites to a planter with a few shade-loving annuals, such as impatiens and begonias.

Light: Shade, part shade, or full sun

Water: Plant in consistently moist, well-drained soil

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

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