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You do not need to be an expert gardener to grow perennials. Many types of perennials are easy to grow and provide years of pleasure with minimal upkeep.
Using perennial plants as the backbone of your flower garden you can count on colorful changes throughout the seasons, as flowers bloom bigger and better every year. Most established perennials need minimal upkeep, and many perennials multiple or spread in the garden to provide more color each year. Some perennials may live a few years, but old favorites like daylilies, hostas and peonies can thrive for decades.
Choose the right site. There are perennials that will withstand deep shade, but there is a much larger selection of plants that need some sunshine.
Choose the right plants. Evaluate your site, noting sun exposure and soil type, and choose plants that prefer the conditions. Know your USDA Zone, make sure the plants are adapted to your growing region.
Prepare the soil. Since your perennials will be occupying the same space for years, it is important to prepare the soil. Most perennials like a moderately rich, loose, loamy soil, with plenty of organic matter and good drainage.
Plant properly. Follow the planting instructions and water well after planting.
Provide some extra TLC the first season. It is a good idea to mulch beds after planting with a thick layer of organic mulch. However, do not pile mulch right up against plants--keep it a few inches from the base of the plants. Be diligent about watering new plantings, deep watering once a week is better than a daily sprinkle.
Here is a list of perennial plants anyone can grow -
AMSONIA (Blue Star)
Shown here with its rich gold fall color, amsonia adds a billowy, finely textured element to the landscape. This southern native has very narrow, soft, needle-like leaves that line the stems like bottle brushes, and grows into a dense mass, much like a small shrub. Clusters of light blue flowers are produced in late spring.
Amsonia thrives in most gardens with little care. It is low-maintenance, easy to grow, and trouble-free.
ASCLEPIAS (Butterfly Weed)
A virtually hassle-free perennial, offering 3 months of tangerine-orange blooms from early thru late summer. The flowers, which are heavily laden with nectar and pollen, are particularly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects.
Gather bouquets of fresh, long-lasting asclepias flowers all summer, then collect the milkweed-like seed pods for dried arrangements in the fall.
Valued for their late summer and fall display, Asters make terrific accents for fall blooming ornamental grasses and the changing colors of the trees. Densely packed clusters of flowers in every color of the rainbow provide outstanding color impact in the garden. They are long-lasting when cut for fresh bouquets and even attract butterflies! Many of the newer selections have demonstrated excellent disease resistance.
BAPTISIA (Blue False Indigo)
Native to the prairies of North America, baptisia is easy to grow and thrives with little care. It is lovely in meadow plantings, as a backdrop in flower borders, or as a specimen.
Baptisia is a distinctive perennial with showy indigo-blue flowers carried on tapering spikes up to 1ft. long. They are held just above the dense, bushy mounds of soft blue-green foliage. The blooms appear from mid to late spring, followed by 2-3 in. long, black seed pods which remain attractive well into winter. They can be used in dried flower arrangements.
CENTRANTHUS (Red Valerian, Jupiter’s Beard)
Little more than water and sunshine is required to make this plant grow. It is a favorite of butterflies and is especially lovely when grown in sunny, naturalized areas, in the crevices of stone walls, or in cottage gardens.
Fragrant, carmine-rose flower clusters are produced continuously from early thru late summer in most regions, except in cooler regions where the bloom period may be extended thru early fall.
Coreopsis is one of the easiest perennials to maintain and is a good choice for beginners. It compliments nearly every other plant in the garden, and works equally well as an ever blooming hedge or as a filler in the middle of the border.
DENDRANTHEMA (Hardy Garden Mum)
A welcome alternative to standard fall mums, these plants are bigger, better, and hardier. They bloom prolifically in loose sprays of single daisies, and their habit is tight and broadly mounded.
Dendranthemas combine well with other fall blooming perennials, and make excellent cut flowers. They tolerate a range of conditions including dry soil.
Echinacea is native to the eastern US, so it is well-adapted to survive hot, windy conditions. It is quite drought tolerant once established. If properly sited, it forms attractive long-lived colonies.
Coneflowers are a mainstay in today's gardens. Many gardeners choose not to remove the spent blossoms, since the seed heads are a wonderfully nutritious source of food for finches and other birds. The dried seed heads also provide architectural interest in the winter.
GAURA (Wand Flower)
Gaura is a native North American wildflower; so it is very drought and heat tolerant. It flowers continuously from late spring into fall if the spent flowers are removed.
There are several varieties of gaura, all bearing pink or white, 4-petaled flowers. They flutter above the foliage on long, thin stems, blowing freely in the wind like a cloud of butterflies.
Looking for something that can provide strong color impact in the garden? This is definitely the one! The fiery orange blossoms of geum appear on slender stalks, hovering over the fuzzy, green foliage beginning in late spring. If deadheaded, it continues to send up blooms nearly all summer long.
Geum is very easy to grow and is underused in today's gardens. It adapts well to both hot summers and cold winters without complaint.
HELIOPSIS (False Sunflower)
A beautiful, carefree perennial, heliopsis is a real workhorse in the garden! With its tall, bushy habit, this perennial creates a perfect backdrop for other perennials at the back of the flower border. It blooms for about 2 months, from mid thru late summer.
HEMEROCALLIS & RUDBECKIA (Daylily & Black-Eyed Susan)
Two classic perennials that no sunny garden should be without! Daylilies and Black-Eyed Susans add a huge splash of color to the garden in mid and late summer, just when the heat starts to kick in. Both require little more than sunshine and water to survive.
HEUCHERA (Coral Bells)
Heucheras are easy to grow and fit nicely in the front of any border, rock garden, or container. They will grow in any amount of sunlight, though most prefer partial shade (preferably afternoon shade).
Once you start using heucheras in your garden, you’ll see that you can’t just have one! They go with everything, especially yellows and reds.
No shade garden would be complete without an array of hostas. There are literally hundreds to choose from, with leaf colors ranging from blue to yellow to green and every type of variegation you can imagine. Their bold foliage lends a somewhat tropical look, even though they are one of the most cold-hardy plants, all the way down to zone 3 (-40º F). If you’re looking for an easy perennial to grow in the shade, this is the one for you.
Nepetas are so satisfying to grow; you’ve just got to have at least one! With little or no care, you’ll be amazed how it starts to bloom in early summer and continues on all the way until fall if deadheaded.
They make great cut flowers too, so they’ll keep your vases full all season long. Even when it’s not in bloom, nepeta’s elegant silvery foliage will accent all the other plants in your garden.
PEROVSKIA (Russian Sage)
No sunny perennial garden would be complete without Russian Sage. This is an essential perennial for the middle or back of the border, as it provides the ideal backdrop for all other flowering plants before it. It is extremely long-blooming, from summer into fall, and makes an excellent cut flower. When not in bloom, the finely textured, silvery foliage lends a light, airy look to the garden.
Sedum is one of the most popular perennials in America because it is very easy to grow and hardy in most areas of the country. Its thick, succulent leaves store water, making it drought tolerant, and pests and diseases rarely present a problem. The seed heads of the taller varieties provide excellent winter interest and food for birds.
Gardeners across America have discovered the value of ornamental grasses. More than ever before, people are incorporating them into their landscapes, from the flower border to the water garden. It’s easy to see why—with such a large selection available, there’s a grass for nearly every habitat. Their powerful architectural details provide striking contrast against nearly all other plants, even standing through the long, cold winters of the north. And since they are generally very low-maintenance, anyone can grow them. Ornamental grasses, which began as a trend many years ago, are definitely here to stay!
Also consider: Ajuga, Alchemilla, Armeria, Athyrium, Bergenia, Chrysanthemum, Convallaria, Corydalis, Dianthus, Dicentra, Euonymus, Gaillardia, Galium, Geranium, Helleborus, Lamium, Leucanthemum, Liriope, Matteuccia, Pachysandra, Paeonia, Penstemon, Phlox subulata, Salvia, Sempervivum, Stachys, Stokesia, Verbascum, Veronica, Vinca, Yucca