10 Best Perennial Flowers For Your Garden

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by Max - last update on September 8, 2020, 8:17 am
Perennial Flowers

If you love the look of flowers in your garden but don't have the time to be re-planting annuals every spring, then perennial flowering plants offer the perfect solution. Once planted, they will continue to come back each year, producing heaps of flowers to bring color and life to your yard. If treated correctly, these plants will grow in size over time and reward you with even more beautiful plants to admire. To discover some of the best perennial flowers and learn about which ones will be suitable for growing in your climate, read on.

1. Bear's Breech

Bear's Breech

 

Scientific Name: Acanthus mollis

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-11

Mature Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Cultivars and Varieties: Acanthus mollis 'Rue Ledan', Acanthus mollis' Morning's Candle'

This flowering perennial is native to northwestern Africa and southern Europe, where it remains evergreen in climates that are warm throughout winter. This plant grows to form clumps, with mounds of glossy bright green foliage surrounding the base of tall flower spikes. Flower spikes are produced in early to mid-summer, typically measuring between three and five feet in height. The chunky vertical flower spikes are covered with creamy white flowers, which have deep purple bracts, giving the blooms a bi-colored effect.

These plants make a good choice for borders to add architectural height to a garden. They are low-maintenance flowers, which need very little care and grow easily and reliably. The flowers also make wonderful cut flower bouquets in fresh or dried arrangements.

Bear's breech will grow in a wide range of lighting conditions, including full shade, though expect flowering to be reduced in these circumstances. For best results, grow the plant in partial shade in very hot climates and in full sun in cooler climates. The plant will adapt well to a wide range of soil conditions, so long as it drains well and is not waterlogged and boggy. Once mature, bear's breech can withstand periods of drought.


2. Common Yarrow

Common Yarrow

 

Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Low moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Achillea millefolium' Pink Grapefruit', Achillea millefolium' Strawberry Seduction', Achillea millefolium ‘Summer Pastels’

This plant is native to western Asia, North America, and Europe, where it is commonly found growing in forests and wetlands, especially on ground that has been disturbed. Common yarrow, also known simply as 'yarrow,' forms small bushy mounds, with attractive foliage that is similar to that of ferns. The foliage is mildly aromatic, as are the flowers of the plant, with a scent that is said to be sweet and similar to the smell of chrysanthemums.

The flowers of common yarrow come in a wide range of colors, including pink and yellow. The flowers are small but grow in large clusters that make for a dramatic and showy floral display. The flowers are single and flat and have a long blooming period, typically arriving in spring and lasting right through to late summer. The flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies, and can also be cut to make pretty bouquets. Flowers will give way to seeds that can disperse in the wind and re-seed easily.

If you wish to prevent new yarrow plants from popping up in your garden, simply deadhead the flowers once they have faded. This is a very easy-care and low-maintenance plant that is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, including humidity, drought, and heat. For best flowering, grow your common yarrow in a position of full sun, though it will also tolerate some light shade. It should be grown in a well-draining soil that is mostly dry and watered infrequently. Wet or moist soils will cause this plant to become floppy and drooping.


3. Bee Balm

Bee Balm

 

Scientific Name: Monarda

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Monarda' Pink Frosting', Monarda' Raspberry Wine', Monarda' Beauty of Cobham'

Bee balm plants belong to the same family as the mint plant and are native to North America. Like mint, they are highly fragrant, with a minty citrus scent that is similar to the bergamot orange. These perennial flowers form clumps, most commonly growing to heights of one or two feet with a similar-sized spread. The foliage of the plant is dark green and heavily serrated, with a similar appearance to mint leaves. The scent of the foliage is unleashed when rubbed between the fingers, and it is frequently used to flavor herbal tea.

This plant is adored not just for its aromatic foliage, but also for its stunning flowers. The plant blooms for several weeks throughout summer, producing frilled flowers that are densely packed with long and twisting petals, resulting in flowers that look like fluffy pompoms. Flowers arise atop upright stems and are well suited to growing in the middle row of borders. They have an informal, whimsical look and make lovely cut flowers. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage more flower production.

This plant can spread aggressively and should be divided every two or three years. It grows best in well-draining soils that are kept moist. It will thrive in both full sun or partial shade. Ensure good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew, and prevent the plant from drying out during warm months.


4. Lily of the Nile

 Lily of the Nile

 

Scientific Name: Agapanthus

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-11

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Cultivars and Varieties: Agapanthus' Blue Heaven', Agapanthus' Arctic Star', Agapanthus' Purple Cloud', Agapanthus' Peter Pan'

These perennial flowers are native to South Africa, and despite their name, they are not true lilies and instead belong to the amaryllis family. They grow from rhizomatous roots, producing long and slender stems that remain upright without support, and exotic looking blooms that sit atop of the sturdy stems. The star-shaped flowers bloom during summer, arriving in large and rounded clusters to provide a dramatic floral display. Flowers vary in color between species and varieties but are most commonly blue or white.

The foliage of this deciduous plant takes the shape of slender, arching leaves, which sit low at the base of the stems. Foliage is green with subtle tints of purple. These plants are low-maintenance and very easy to grow, providing very rewarding blooms that look spectacular when planted en masse. They perform best in a full sun position but will benefit from afternoon shade in very hot climates. Ensure their soil is well-draining and fertile, and aim to keep it evenly moist. The soil should not be allowed to dry out, except for during winter, when the plant becomes dormant.


5. Common Snapdragon

Common Snapdragon

 

Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-10

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Light: Full sun to light shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Antirrhinum majus 'Admiral Pink Bicolor', Antirrhinum majus 'Calima Pure White', Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’

This flowering plant is a perennial, though it is popularly also grown as an annual bedding plant. It is native to the Mediterranean region, where it will grow in cracks in the ground or in walls. The name snapdragon is a reference to the way the flower reacts when its throat is squeezed; if you press the flower between your thumb and forefinger, the mouth of the flower will snap open, like a dragon breathing fire. These are fragrant flowers that come in a wide range of colors, including orange, red, purple, white, and pink. The unusual flowers can be fringed or ruffled, and appear on upright flower spikes that can reach up to three feet tall.

Snapdragons are often categorized according to their height. These categories include dwarf, short, intermediate, and tall, with some plants having a maximum height of just four inches. These plants are loved for their blooms but also because they are low-maintenance plants that are incredibly easy to grow. They also make excellent cut flowers, and cutting off the stems to create bouquets will actually encourage the plant to produce new flowering stems, so it's a win-win situation. You should also deadhead spent flowers as this will result in more blooming.

Snapdragons grow in both full sun or partial shade, in a well-draining soil that is kept consistently moist. They have some drought tolerance but should not be allowed to try out too frequently.


6. Mullein

 Mullein

 

Scientific Name: Verbascum

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Verbascum' Jackie in Pink', Verbascum' Lavender Lass', Verbascum' Southern Charm'

These semi-evergreen perennials are native to Europe and Asia. They first form low rosettes of foliage close to the ground, which are typically covered in coarse hairs. Following the creation of the leafy rosette, the plant sends out a tall central stem that will be adorned with flowers. These wide open-faced flowers come in a wide selection of colors, including pink, orange, and purple. They typically flower for a long period over the summer, which will be extended further if the blooms are deadheaded as soon as they are spent. However, if you wish for the plant to self-seed, allow the spent flowers to turn to seed that will be dispersed in the wind, and result in the production of new mulleins.

This is a low-maintenance plant that is adaptable to a wide range of conditions. It is drought-tolerant and will adapt to almost any soil type as long as it drains well. If planted in fertile soil, mulleins have a tendency to grow taller, and may droop under the weight and require staking and support. Grows these plants in full sun for the best results.


7. Meadow Rue

Meadow Rue

 

Scientific Name: Thalictrum aquilegifolium

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, fertile

Cultivars and Varieties: Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Album', Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Black Stockings', Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Splendide', Thalictrum aquilegifolium 'Thundercloud'

This bushy perennial plant is native to Europe and Asia, though it has become naturalized in New York, USA, and Ontario in Canada. It belongs to the buttercup family and is also commonly known by the names' columbine meadow rue' and 'feathered columbine,' owing to the fact that its lacy foliage is very similar to that of a columbine plant. The frilled, almost fern-like leaves of this plant, is one of its best features. The foliage is low and dense, in an attractive blue-green color.

This plant is also loved for its unusual flowers, which appear in packed panicles from late spring to early summer. The flowers are puffed up and fluffy, in shades of pink, purple, and white. Winged seed pods follow the flowers, giving the plant a longer season of interest and color. The plant is easily grown from seed and can self-sow easily, so if you'd prefer not to have spontaneous new meadow rue plants, then it is best to deadhead the flowers as soon as they fade.

Meadow rue is a low-maintenance herbaceous perennial that is rewarding to grow with very little care needed. It should be grown in a fertile soil that is kept evenly moist and needs to be planted in a position of full sun or partial shade. It does not like humidity or heat, so in warmer zones, it will fare best in dappled shade. It is ideal for growing in beds, borders, or containers, and also makes lovely cut flower bouquets.


8. Pincushion Flower

 Pincushion Flower

 

Scientific Name: Scabiosa

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Mature Size: Up to 2 feet tall

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Scabiosa' Butterfly Blue', Scabiosa' Vivid Violet', Scabiosa' Pink Mist'

These flowering perennials form low mounds of foliage that has a feathery, fern-like appeal. The gray-green leaves remain low to the ground while tall and sturdy stems shoot upwards in late spring and produce an array of beautiful flowers. The complex flowers have a detailed look that is a result of many small florets grouped together to create the look of one large flower.

These flowers come in various colors, but most commonly, they are found in shades of blue, lilac, and cream. They are popular for their long flowering season that runs from spring right through to fall. Deadheading spent flowers will encourage more flower production and improve the chances of a longer blooming season. Cut back the plant just before the first expected frost to keep it neat over winter, and it will spring back to life the following year.

Pincushion flowers thrive in full sun, but they will benefit from some afternoon shade in very hot climates. They should be planted in well-draining soils that are kept moist; however, these plants will also tolerate drought and can work well in rock gardens and other typically dry areas.


9. Mealy Cup Sage

Mealy Cup Sage

 

Scientific Name: Salvia farinacea

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-10

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining, organically rich

Cultivars and Varieties: Salvia farinacea 'Fairy Queen', Salvia farinacea 'Blue Bedder', Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’

This perennial flowering plant is native to Mexico and the southern United States, including Texas and Florida. It grows in dense clumps that work well in wildflower gardens, containers, and perennial borders. Unlike other sage plants, which have velvety foliage in a gray-green color, the foliage of mealycup sage is glossy and bright green. The leaves are aromatic and are densely packed on the square stems. The flowers of this plant resemble lavender, with small blue-purple blooms that arrive on tall, slender spikes.

This plant has a long blooming period from spring right through to the first frost, providing beauty all summer long. It grows best in full sun to partial shade and should be planted in well-draining soil. It is tolerant of dry soils, while wet soils will make the plant leggy. It can also be grown outside of zones 8-10 as an annual and makes excellent cut flowers, both fresh or dried.


10. Garden Phlox

Garden Phlox

 

Scientific Name: Phlox paniculata

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Phlox paniculata' Blue Paradise', Phlox paniculata' Eva Cullum', Phlox paniculata 'Neon Flare Blue'

This perennial flowering plant is native to North America, notably the central and eastern regions of the US. It is a hugely popular cultivated plant across temperate regions of the world and is a firm favorite in garden borders. Garden phlox is adored for its striking flowers that put on a dramatic and vibrant display for many weeks throughout summer and often persist through to fall.

The flowers measure around one inch across but arrive in densely packed panicles that bloom so heavily that they can look like a carpet of bright colored petals. As wild plants, garden phlox flowers are usually pink or purple, though cultivated varieties are also available in varying shades of blue and white. Blooms are very fragrant and enormously attractive to pollinators. The foliage of the plant is lance-shaped and medium green.

For best effect, plant several of these plants to create a carpet of flowers that will continue to bloom again year after year. Plant garden phlox in a well-draining soil that is kept moderately moist. It performs best in full sun but will also tolerate partial shade. This plant is susceptible to powdery mildew, so avoid overhead watering and ensure good air circulation to avoid this problem from affecting your garden phlox.


11. Common Foxglove

Common Foxglove

 

Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Cultivars and Varieties: Digitalis purpurea' Candy Mountain', Digitalis purpurea 'Dalmatian White', Digitalis purpurea ‘Sugar Plum’

This is a short-lived perennial flowering plant that typically lives for around three years. It is native to Europe but has become naturalized in many areas of North America. It is hugely popular as a cultivated garden plant for many reasons. It is easy to grow, has a vigorous growth habit, flowers early, attracts hummingbirds, and is visually stunning. It produces whirls of eye-catching flowers on tall flower spikes that can reach up to six feet tall, though generally most cultivars top out at three or four foot in height.

The flowers typically arrive in early summer and have a tubular trumpet shape. The flowers come in a wide array of colors, including purple, yellow, pink, and white. There are also some bi-color varieties, such as the award-winning 'Dalmation White,' which has been the recipient of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. This plant has white flowers whose petals are splashed on the inside with purple spots. It looks as though it has been flecked with paint by flicking a paintbrush at it, and makes quite a feature in the garden.

These plants give the best visual impact when they are planted in groups of at least four or five. The foliage of the plant forms a rosette of hairy green leaves in ovate shapes.

This plant is easy to care for, though it can fall victim to pests such as aphids and eelworm and is susceptible to downy mildew. Avoid overhead watering and ensure good air circulation to keep your foxgloves in the best condition. They should be grown in full sun or partial shade, in a soil that is well-draining. The foliage of the plant is toxic, so keep it away from curious children or pets.

 

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