Each year, we put so much work into preparing and nurturing our garden beds, it’s always a shame when the season ends and we have to say goodbye to our annuals. What we love about perennials is how it’s seldom “goodbye” and simply “see you later”. Perennials bring beauty and color back into our lives year after year, so we have a special place in our hearts for them. You can’t beat the value of a plant you only buy once!
While each year brings new genetics and color variations, there are a few perennials that everyone loves. These perennials are so universally beloved, they’re always the first to sell out!
Shasta daisies bring that classic, cheerful daisy look into your yard year after year. Planting a few in a plain-looking space is a great way to brighten up your garden. Shastas can tolerate some shade but drainage and fertile soil are necessary for bright blooms. Preparing the soil with compost will set them up for success.
For how dramatic daylilies look, they certainly aren’t very high-maintenance. Thriving on a little bit of neglect, all daylilies need to provide their hundreds of blooms throughout the season is a sunny spot with well-draining, fairly fertile soil. Their blooms only last about a day, but once they start blooming, you can expect fireworks of brilliant color lasting through the summer. You can help them bloom sooner next year by removing their seed pods once the blooming period is over.
What’s not to love about these native perennials? Coneflower are well adapted to our Pennsylvania climate, they have well-known medicinal properties, and pollinators love them. While the purple coneflower is the best-known, you can find coneflower cultivars in lots of beautiful shades to coordinate with your garden design. Coneflowers actually thrive in poorer quality soils, so they’re great for filling in spots where nothing else seems to grow. The main issue you might encounter with these perennials is an overabundance—they can reach up to 5 feet tall if neglected and will eventually need to be cut back significantly.
Every garden can benefit from a stately-looking salvia plant. Perennial salvias produce long flower spikes that add a little bit of color, texture, height to our garden designs. Not all flowers come in blue, but salvias are available in gorgeous blue jewel tones that look stunning next to blooms and foliage on any side of the color wheel. There are many varieties of salvia, all with different needs, but most perennial varieties can tolerate a bit of shade and appreciate some time to dry out between waterings.
Sedum is a succulent plant family also known as stonecrop. They get their nickname from their tendency to survive just about anything—great news for the busy gardener. As long as the sedum variety you choose is hardy enough for our climate, it may amaze you how indestructible it is. Sedum doesn’t need to be ‘planted’ so much as ‘set down’ on the ground. Simply place it on the soil and watch it spread. Sedum comes in lots of fabulous colors and shapes, making it a visually stunning cover crop for beds and borders.
While related to catnip, catmint is much more ornamental and much less attractive to felines. Tolerant of drought and heat, catmint adds a great rustic look to your edging or borders. It’s also a natural deterrent for Japanese beetles and aphids, which can make it a great companion for any plants that are more susceptible to these pests. Catmint does fine on average soil but can become invasive if not well contained. Good drainage and airflow are also important, as the plant can be prone to powdery mildew.
Those with a fondness for French sensibilities might love the idea of graceful bouquets of lavender cut and kept fresh or dried on the bedside table. This dreamy perennial herb is a known natural sleep aid and has a very romantic quality. Even though there’s a whole shade of purple named after the lavender plant, they actually come in many colors, including pinks and yellows. As with any other plant, each variety of lavender has different requirements, but they all need excellent drainage. Lavender doesn’t need, or like, a lot of moisture and does well on drier soils once established. Prune lavender by half once the stalks grow woody to prevent sprawling and encourage flowering.
Hostas are a must-have plant for shade-heavy gardens. They never need replanting and survive in just about any condition of sun exposure. Due to their preference for shade, they prefer their soil to be kept moist and appreciate a good dose of slow-release fertilizer during the planting process. They eventually grow flower spikes adorned with mauve, bell-shaped blooms. Beware that hostas are vulnerable to slugs, rabbits, and deer.
Astilbe is an eye-catching plant that grow plumes of cotton-candy-like flowers. They come in a very wide range of colors and make great companions to hostas due to their mutual tolerance for shade. Astilbe flourishes best on very rich, fertile soil that drains easily. They make great use of phosphorus, and a monthly amendment with a phosphoric fertilizer can help them grow even showier flowers.
Bee balm plants live up their name by attracting scads of pollinators to your property. Their bright, tubular petals are highly attractive to bees and butterflies alike. Bee balm prefers full sun but tolerates some shade, and does best with a little balanced fertilizer while planting and frequent deadheading. Due to their susceptibility to mildew, it’s advisable to water bee balm plants at ground-level and avoid getting their flowers or foliage wet. Well-drained soil will also keep mildew at bay.
BLACK EYED SUSAN (RUDBECKIA)
Black-eyed Susans are part of the coneflower family and are well-known thanks to the stark contrast between their golden-yellow petals and dark brown centers. There are also some strikingly beautiful varieties that boast double flowers in orange, golds, and reds. Black-eyed Susans tend to spread quickly and need very little maintenance. They do best in the sun, where everyone can get a great view of their bright, beautiful blooms.
Coreopsis are beloved for their delicate, sunny flowers that last well into the fall. Available in several color combinations, coreopsis looks wonderful in just about any location—beds, border, fresh cut in a vase, or just about anywhere else that could use dainty flecks of color. Since coreopsis is native to our region, they require no special care and even do best when left alone. Deadhead frequently to extend their blooming period.
HEUCHERA (CORAL BELLS)
Heuchera plants are also known as Coral Bells, but they come in far more colors than just coral. Gardeners who love rich color tend to appreciate heuchera because they’re one of the few perennials with foliage available in just about any shade. From royal purple to jet black, Heuchera is a great plant to add to garden designs with strict color themes. Plant heuchera in sun or part shade in fertile, well-drained soil. Over time, heuchera can get leggy and require re-planting to keep the crown closer to the soil.
While these are just a few favorites, we get weekly shipments of fresh perennials with many more options. Available perennials are based on bloom time so we can help to keep your garden colorful and beautiful all year. Visit us today to see what’s in store this week!