The charm of perennials is that each month brings new blooms to enjoy. These plants are the backbone of your flower garden because they have staying power.
Their leaves usually die back as winter approaches, but with luck, they will come back each year. Some are short-lived, but old favorites like daylilies, hostas and peonies can thrive for decades.
The right plants for your garden
When designing your flower garden, there are many choices to make. Some are purely aesthetic (such as match-making plant combinations and colors), and others are horticultural (what grows best in conditions on your property and in your climate).
The more closely you base decisions on meeting the needs of your plants (light requirements, hardiness, soil and moisture levels), and on which plants look good together, the more successful your garden will be.
Plant information: In the left-hand column, you’ll find links to many flower garden favorites for sun and shade, complete with growing and care tips.
Peonies thrive in full sun
Starting a flower garden
When you start out, you may think that all you have to do is get your plants into the ground, and with the exception of weeding, watering and cutting them back each season, your garden will be done.
But here’s what really happens:
The first year your new perennials are underwhelming – the clumps small, the flowers sparse.
By the second year, you’ll see more flowers and better growth. But in the third season – watch out – your plants look like they’re on steroids, and you look like an accomplished gardener.
After that, many plants get bigger each season, while the odd one does a disappearing act. Responding to inevitable change is the challenge – and that’s why veteran gardeners often say that no flower garden is ever really finished.
What you can do with perennials in a shady site
More flower garden tips:
Flower garden care– What to do in the garden as the seasons progress
Easy-care perennials – A list of good easy plants to grow
Big bold plants – Add drama to your garden with bigger, bolder plants
Damp spots in the garden -Native plants that thrive in moist sites
Fall-bloomers – The season may be coming to an end, but why should your flower show stop early?
Plants with attractive foliage – Why leaves matter in your garden design
Perennial ground covers – Plants for those challenging spots on your property
Rock gardening tips – Easy alpine plants for beginners
Patty’s Plum poppy – a lovely perennial for sun
FLOWERS FOR SUN
Bearded iris – Modern cultivars with better color, more blooms
Cranesbill (perennial geraniums) – Charming garden plants
Cushion spurge – Spring flowers with Euphorbia polychroma
Daylilies – Hardy, easy-to-grow favorites
Dianthus ‘Firewitch’ – perfect low-growing spring charmer
Echinacea – New-look coneflowers
False blue indigo – A gorgeous, easy-care native
Geranium Rozanne – 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year
Heucheras – Terrific foliage plants
Lady’s Mantle – Attractive garden edging plant
Lavender – An elegant edging plant
Lilies (Lilium) – Blooms that mix well with other flowers
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ – Handsome catmint
Oriental poppies – Dazzlingly beautiful flowers
Peonies – Colorful, fragrant and fabulous
Primroses – Spring-bloomers that suit moist soil conditions
Roses – Discover the allure of rose gardening
Russian sage – Here’s one for hot, dry gardens
Shasta daisy – Classic flower, easy-care plant
Siberian iris – Easy early-season flowers
PLANTS FOR SHADE
Ferns – Terrific foliage and deer-proof too
Helleborus × hybridus (lenten rose) – Long- blooming for spring
Hosta – Must-have plant for the shade
Japanese Painted Fern – Attractive, low- maintenance
Virginia bluebells – Woodland native with blue spring flowers
Variegated Solomon’s Seal – 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year