Perennials, or plants and flowers that come back year after year, are found in virtually every yard. Perennial flowers work in multiple situations: in whole garden beds, in combination with annuals and bulbs, as accent to shrubs and trees, and in containers and windowboxes. In addition, perennials often increase in size each year, which means they can often be divided and added to other spots in the landscape. The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia contains a wealth of information to help you tend to your existing perennials as well as add new and interesting plants to your landscape. The searchable tool enables you to search by perennial common or scientific name, plant characteristics, growing season, and common uses. You'll also discover what perennial plants work well in sun or shade, USDA Hardiness Zones, growing requirements, and planting suggestions for perennials. View a list of perennials by common name or scientific name below.

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Hellebores are so easy and so pretty, they have a place in nearly every landscape. Their exquisite bowl- or saucer-shape flowers in white (often speckled), pinks, yellows, or maroon remain on the plant for several months, even after the petals have fallen. Deer-resistant and mostly evergreen, hellebores' divided leaves rise on sturdy stems and may be serrated (like a knife) along the edges. Grow hellebores in shade where soil remains moist; some hellebores prefer acid or alkaline conditions, depending on variety.


Not only do these plants work well in a dry garden as an architectural accent, but they also thrive in containers.

Wood fern

Turn that shady spot into a restful, green landscape by planting wood ferns. Although some ferns can be picky, wood ferns are tough, adaptable, medium-size woodland ferns with bold texture. Some species are evergreen and others are deciduous. Other common names include shield fern and buckler fern. Like most ferns, it needs rich, moist, humus-rich soil with plenty of water.

Yellow Wax Bells

A perennial with a shape and stems reminiscent of a woody shrub, yellow wax bells are named for their pretty late-summer flowers. The plant’s pendulous clusters of yellow pearl-size buds open into dainty, nodding bells. When the flowers are not in bloom, its maple-like leaves are a great backdrop for other shade-garden plants. Though it’s not a common plant, it’s easy to grow and pest-resistant, and deserves a home in almost any shade garden.


This tough perennial works especially well in a cottage garden setting and in wildflower gardens.

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This perennial comes in a range of colors from bright jewel tones to sweet pastels.

Wall Rockcress

Wall rockcress is an outstanding spring-blooming groundcover for dry, sunny spots in Northern gardens. It’s easy to care for and bursts into bloom in spring, producing so many pure white flowers they almost hide the foliage. After it’s finished blooming it sports gray-green leaves that look good for the rest of the season.  

Surprisingly, wall rockcress is in the cabbage family. It’s related to common garden vegetables including cabbage and kohlrabi. It’s also related to a variety of fine spring-blooming flowers, including aubrieta and wallflower.

Prickly Pear Cactus

This succulent plant is simultaneously a beauty and a beast.