What is a Perennial?

Flowering perennials are herbaceous (non-woody) plants that die to the ground each fall and come up again each spring.  Technically, they are defined as plants that live three years or longer.

Some common examples are peonies, irises, daylilies and hostas.  In contrast, an annual is a non-woody plant that only lives for one growing season and has to be replanted each spring.  Examples of annuals include petunias, marigolds and impatiens.

Where should I use Perennials?

Traditionally, perennials have been planted in borders or beds with evergreens, shrubs or a fence providing the background.  The English developed this style and it is still widely followed today.  While the English perennial border is still quite common, perennials are frequently being used as color accents in foundation plantings or in island beds.  Landscape designs are increasingly calling for a color accent and one of the best way to accomplish this is with perennials.  The color accent can be a single plant, such as a peony that is valued for its showy blossoms and attractive foliage.  Or it can be a mass planting of daylilies or hostas that can provide brilliant show of color and at the same time add texture to the landscape.

A perennial garden can also be created to provide cut flowers both fresh and dried for the home.  Other low growing perennials can be used as groundcovers, creating a soft and pleasant look to the landscape.

Selecting Perennials

Most perennials are selected on the basis of light needs, overall height and spread, as well as bloom periods.  As a part of the selection process, you must also be cognizant of the soil type and drainage of your planting site.  Most perennials prefer a well drained plant site, but there are types that will tolerate poorly drained soils as well as very dry soils.  If the planting site is well drained or can be made to drain by elevating the bed and/or adding organic matter you will be able to use almost any perennial plant.


Mums are highly sought after by gardeners for their colorful, daisy-like flowers that are showy for long periods in the landscape.  They are suitable for usage in the mixed border, as edging plants in rock gardens and even for use in containers.  They also make excellent, long lasting cut flowers.  No plant will produce more color in fall than mums.  They are available in every color but blue and have many different flower shapes and sizes.  Cushion mums are about 1’ tall while football mums have large 4 – 6” flowers on 2’ plants.  Mulch the plants each fall and pinch in spring  to form bushier plants.


This group is one of the most adaptable perennials for our landscapes.  They thrive in most soil conditions and will tolerate light shade.  Height varies from only 9” to more than 4’ depending on variety.  Almost every blossom color exists except true blue. 

Bloom period key:  E = early daylily season      M =  mid daylily season     L = late daylily season


Hostas have long been popular as the perennial for shady locations.  This is due to such attributes as hardiness disease resistance and attractive habit.  Although there are several varieties known for their fragrant, showy flowers hostas are most highly regarded for their foliage that provides a full season of beauty and pleasure.

The versatility of hostas is revealed in the wide range of sizes and forms available.  The gardener can choose from plants with leaves no larger than a dime to those with leaves up to 2’ long. 

Leaf colors?  Again, the range is seemingly endless and includes various degrees of blues, golds, creams, greens, variegated, splashed and streaked.

You will find many uses for hostas:  They serve well as ground cover or edging plants as well as focal points in the garden or landscape.

They all thrive in shade, but the amount varies depending on foliage coloration.

Ground Covers

Think of ground covers as grass substitutes.  They can be further defined as low-growing plants placed in close proximity.  They are often chosen to grow in places where grass will no grow (deep shade), in rocky or moist soils or on steep slopes.  Ground covers can provide a variety of texture and color that will enable the homeowner to establish an enjoyable, interesting and attractive landscape.  These plants are used where minimal maintenance is desired as many good ground covers require little more than a late fall or an early spring trimming.

Did you know…?

You can extend the bloom season of your perennial garden by inter-planting with spring blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils.

How To Plant A Successful Landscape Project

The typical landscape project should be completed in the following sequence:

  1. Locate underground wiring, pipes, and other utilities.
  2. Clear the site of debris and plants scheduled for removal.
  3. Locate the bed lines.  Measure the distance on the plan from an existing structure to points along the proposed bed line.   Convert these measurements to the site by using a tape measure to locate points of the ground.  After a number of points have been located, lay a garden hose along them to establish bed lines.  The planting bed may appear too large, but remember that  plants will grow to fit.  Do not move the planting bed lines in order to reduce its size!
  4. Remove sod from all planting beds with a sharp spade or sod cutter.
  5. After sod has been removed, rake the new planting bed smooth and slope it away from the house.  If the bed is not constructed adjacent to a building, check the best direction for drainage.
  6. Install edging according to directions provided with the materials being used.
  7. Stake locations of plants to follow the plan, or the landscape designer’s instructions.
  8. To repeat a word of caution, plant materials may appear too small for the bed size, but they will grow to fit the space.

After planting is completed, install rock, redwood bark or wood chip mulch, if any is to be used.  To begin this work, lay the weed barrier over the top of the plants, cut a hole in the materials the same diameter as the plant, and lower the weed barrier to the ground.  It should not be tight against the plant base.  After the barrier is in place, install the rock or wood mulch to a depth of two to four inches.

It is important to always facilitate positive drainage.  In most cases around foundations, remove very little soil at foundation and full depth at edging.  See Original Grade.  Then install edging and plants, lay weed barrier an install mulch over remaining grade.  In other words, create drainage flow with proper excavation, not with mulch. 

See manufacturer’s instructions for edging installation.  Be sure to set edging low enough so lawn mower wheels, etc. do not catch top edge.  Install plants at original grade rather than excavated grade.

Potted Plants

Dig the hole approximately 50% wider and slightly deeper than the pot.  Cut the container down the sides and remove the plant.  IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO KEEP THE EARTH BALL INTACT!

Set the plant in the hole with enough soil underneath to bring the top of the earth ball even with the ground level.  Hold the plant erect and fill in around it with improved soil until the hole is 2/3 filled. 

Water from below the plant until hole is filled.  After the water settles away, finish backfilling.  Leave a shallow depression around the plant to collect water.

Container Stock Planting

  1. Slit container down opposite sides.
  2. Gently remove plant from container.  Important:  Keep earth ball intact.
  3.  If plastic pot, slip plant from container.

Balled and Burlapped

DO NOT REMOVE THE BURLAP OR THE WIRE BASKET.  Dig a hole approximately 50% wider and slightly deeper than the earth ball.  Set the plant in the hole with enough soil underneath so that the top of the earth balls even with ground level.  Hold the plant erect and fill in around it with improved soil until the hole is 2/3 filled.

Let hose down and water from below until the hole is filled. After the water settles away, finish backfilling.  Leave a shallow depression around the plant to collect water.  Cut the rope that secures the burlap around the plant base at the top of the root ball.  Remove any strings that may be tied around trunk.  Leave all burlap intact.

Bare Root

Keep the roots moist, covered and in a cool location at all times preceding the planting.  When you are ready to plant, remove and discard all packing material. Cut away broken roots and trim long roots rather than bending or doubling them in planting.  Prune back the top of the plant approximately one-third if this was not done by the nursery.  When pruning bare root trees, do not remove the main leader.

Dig the hole large enough so that the roots will easily fit without pressing against the sides and so that the plant will be at the same depth as it was in the nursery.  Hold the plant erect and fill in around it with improved soil until the hole is 2/3 filled. 

Water from below by letting hose down hole beside plant until the hole is filled.  After the water settles away, finish backfilling.  Leave a shallow depression around the plant to collect water.

Bare Root Roses

To plant a dormant rose, place the plant so that the graft is at least one inch below the surface grade.  Spread the roots out over a cone-shaped mound in the base of the hole.  Fill in over the roots with a mixed blend of soil, firming the soil as it is added.  Leave a basin for water and soak thoroughly, making sure that after the earth settles the bud union of the rose is at least one inch below the surface.

When the plant has been thoroughly watered, mound soil up over all the canes and make certain all are completely covered.  This keeps the canes from drying out until the roots have become established.  Check after one week to see if buds have begun to sprout along the canes. 

When several buds on each cane have sprouted to a length of at least ½”, the mounded soil may be removed but be sure to re-form a pocket at the base of the plant to hold water.  If the buds still appear dormant, leave the mound intact.

Potted Roses

When you purchase potted roses, the work of hilling up and starting the plant has already been done for you.  The plants are in full leaf and many are in bud when offered for sale.  In addition to being less work to plant, they usually produce an extra set of blooms the first season.  Roses require winter protection.  Consult us for advice on the best method for your roses.  

Soil preparation for planting potted roses should be as carefully done as when planting a dormant bare root plan.  No mound need be made in the bottom of the hole, but you must keep the ball of earth firmly intact around the roots.  Carefully remove the pot or container and gently lower the plant into the hole, with graft at least 1 ½” below the surface of the ground.  Fill in around the roots with prepared soil and water thoroughly.  No mounding over the tops need be done on potted, started roses. 

Perennials, Strawberries, Bulbs and Tubers

These items are generally best planted in prepared beds.  We will be happy to give you advice on proper preparation.  Carefully spread the roots of perennials and strawberries and plant only as deep as they were in the nursery.  Bulbs, tubers and peonies should be planted to the following depths:

1”Tuberous begonia
1 ½”Ismene
2”Fairy Lily
3”Anenome  (6” apart), Ranunculus, Gladiolus, Tigridia
4”Montbretia, Bulbous Iris (4” apart), Tuberose, Chonodoxa (3” apart), Crocus (3” apart), Snowdrop, Galtonia
5”Grape Hyacinth (3” apart)
5 ½”Tulip (6” apart)
6”Canna, Dahlia
6 ½”Hyacinth
7”Narcissus (6” apart)
8”Lily (12” apart)


Roots of newly-planted stock must not dry completely for extended periods of time, especially during the first growing season.  Such stress may kill them.  Water each plant thoroughly right after planting to settle the soil around the roots, then check soil near the base of plants to a depth of 6”.  Water when soil feels dry.  The frequency and amount of water depends on the character of the soils.  Water about once each week to ten days from April to September in clay or other heavy soils; twice a week watering may be needed in sandy or lighter soils.  Do not water so often that the soil does not drain and remains soggy.   Too frequent, shallow watering will hamper root development.  All the garden hose to run at a slow trickle for ½-1 hour on each plant, depending on size on soil type.  Give one final deep watering to all evergreens before the ground freezes in the winter.  Do not rely on sprinklers until your planting is well established.


Examine your plants at regular intervals to determine whether or not an insect or disease problem is present.  Treatment is most effective when begun early.  At the first sign of insect or disease problems, contact us.  With proper instruction, you can control many of these problems yourself. 


Plants require only a shortening of more vigorous branches the first year or two after planting to keep a symmetrical appearance.  After the second year, begin the following program of maintenance pruning:

Deciduous Shrubs:  Spring flowering varieties should be pruned after flowering.  Summer flowering varieties should be pruned in the early spring.

Evergreen Shrubs:  June or July

Evergreen Trees:  These are usually planted in open yards and normally do not need to be pruned.  If needed, however, prune in June and do not remove more that ½ of the new growth.  A few weeks after evergreens are planted, some small branches may have turned down.  These may have been injured in handling and should be cut off.

Formal Hedges:  Prune several time during the season.

Shade Trees:  After the first year, remove one or two of the lowest limbs until the lowest limbs are at the ultimate desired height.  Most trees can be trimmed any time of the year.  Oak and Honeylocust, however, should be trimmed only during the winter.


ACHILLEA  millefolium – Yarrow

Easy, spreading plant with fern-like foliage and strong stems carrying flat-topped clusters of small flowers in summer.  Will re-bloom if cut back hard after bloom.  Great for the sunny border, but flowers, or naturalizing.  Achillea has very few pest problems and is drought tolerant.  The perfect low maintenance bloomer.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30 F).

AJUGA  reptans – Bugleweed

An easily cultivated ground cover that quickly forms a dense mat.  Evergreen in mild climates.  Spikes of  loom in early to late spring.  A great choice for shade or sun, and not fussy about soil.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

ALCEA  ‘Singles Mix’ – Hollyhock

This old-fashioned perennial is one of the most well-known plants because of its size and use in gardens all over North America. It has large leaves and tall spires of single, outward-facing bell-shaped blooms in shades of yellow, pink, lavender and red that bloom all summer.  Great background plant for areas with full sun.  5 – 7 ft. tall.  Zones 5 – 9 (-20F).

ALCHEMILLA  mollis ‘Improved’ – Lady’s Mantle

Soft, grey-green, lobed leaves form an attractive mound bearing clusters of small chartreuse blooms late spring to early summer.

Excellent edging plant seen quite commonly in English gardens, and gaining popularity in the cut flower trade.  Dew collects along the leaf veins for a beautiful effect.  Foliage is 8’ tall with flower stems up to 18’ (generally more of a cascade than upright).  Full sun to part shade in cool climates, partial shade in the south.  Zones 4 – 7 (-30F).

ANTHEMIS   tinctoria ‘Kelwayi’ – Golden Marguerite

A vigorous, free-blooming plant with aromatic foliage to 8’ and a profusion of bright yellow daisies all summer. Anthemis is tolerant of hot, dry areas and poor soil.  Zone 3 – 7 (-40F).

AQUILEGIA  flabellata – Fan Columbine

These dwarf columbines have blue-green foliage and nodding blooms in late spring.  Their small size makes them a good choice for the rock garden or front of the border.  They prefer light shade and moist, but not overwet soil.  They also tend to be longer-lived than some of the other hybrids.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

ARTEMISIA   schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’ – Silver Mound Artemisia

A very hard plant grown for it’s silver-grey, velvety foliage, which grows to form a perfect 12” x 18” mound.  Artemisia is best grown in infertile soil because soil that is too rich can produce long, floppy stems.  Trim off blooms for best results.  Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

ASTER  nova-angliae – New England Aster

These are excellent late season garden plants, smothered in masses of boldly colored daisies in late summer and fall.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

ASTILBE    chinensis ‘Pumila’ – Chinese Astilbe

An excellent dwarf astilbe with attractive foliage and stiff panicles of mauve-pink in late summer.  About 15” tall including the blooms. They perform best in moist soil high in organic matter, and prefer some shade from the hot afternoon sun, but are more tolerant of drier conditions than many of the hybrid astilbes.  This cultivar is quite vigorous, and therefore works well as a groundcover or edging plant.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

ASTILBE x arendsii hybrids – False Spirea

Astilbes have been extensively hybridized over the years, and the result is a wonderful mix of colors, heights, and bloom times.  The foliage is attractive all season, provided adequate moisture is maintained.  The flowers appear in arched panicles in early to mid summer, and make excellent cuts.  Plant them in moist sun, such as along the edge of a pond, or in a partially shaded location.  Zones 4 – 9 (-30F).

ASTILBE  taquetti – Fall Astilbe

This species blooms later than the hybrids by at least two weeks, which in the north means late August.  Dense upright panicles of lilac on 3 – 4  ft. plants.  Culture is the same as the other Astilbes.   Zones 4 – 9 (-30F).

BERGENIA    cordifolia ‘Red Bloom’ – Heart-leaved Bergenia

Large, shiny evergreen leaves grow in clumps to produce an attractive groundcover in moist sun or partial shade.  Flower scapes of red bells appear in early spring just above the foliage, but are of secondary interest.  This plant is useful in the border, in the rockery, or at the water’s edge.  15 – 18 in.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

CALAMAGROSTIS    acutiflora  ‘Karl Foerster’ – Feather Reed Grass

This cool-season ornamental grass is tolerant of a wide want of conditions and is small and less invasive than some other grasses.  The coarse leaves begin to grow early in the season, and in early summer 15” panicles of bloom appear which mature through the season to a golden-brown.  This cultivar grows to just under 4 ft. tall and forms a 2 ft. wide clump at maturity.  They are very effective when planted in mass or alongside streams and ponds.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

CAMPANULA  carpatica – Carpathian Harebell

This plant’s small stature and floriferous habits make it useful in almost any situation from the front of the border to the rockery, to container or basket plantings.  Bright green foliage forms a mound which is covered with upright-facing bell-shaped flowers all summer.  It performs best in cool, evenly moist soil and therefore is best suited to a northern climate.  Plant them in full sun or light shade.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

CAMPANULA   glomerata ‘Joan Elliot’ – Clustered Bellflower

Spreading basal foliage from which arise short stems with dense clusters of bright purple bell-shaped flowers in mid-summer.  At 15 – 18”, it is quite sturdy, and also showy.  Zones 4 – 8.

CENTAUREA  montana – Mountain Bluet

This plant has thick leaves which are silvery white when young, and sturdy stems of rich blue blooms in early summer.  It performs best in cooler, northern climates, and prefers full sun and drainage.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

CHRYSANTHEMUM  coccineum – Pyrethrum, Painted Daisy

The foliage of this daisy is so finely divided as to appear fern-like.  Wiry stems carry large, colorful daisies in early summer.  Excellent both in the border and as a cut flower.  These plants do not perform well in the South, and are recommended for Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

COREOPSIS  grandiflora – Tickseed

Coreopsis plans a big role in the summer garden because it is a drought tolerant and an relentless bloomer if spent flowers are removed regularly.  The bright yellow daisies are a staple of the sunny border and the cutting bed.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

DELPHINIUM   grandiflorum ‘Butterfly Blue’ – Larkspur

A bushy, dwarf Delphinium with deeply cut foliage and multiple-branched stems of brilliant blue flower spikes beginning in early summer. Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

DELPHINIUM   ‘Magic Fountains’ – Larkspur, Delphinium

Delphinium have always been a necessity for the well-planned formal border, and few plants can have the impact of a well grown stand.  The ‘Magic Fountains’ strain is a genetic dwarf, growing to about 36” tall and wide, and requires less staking than the taller hybrids.  Give them deep, rich soil, plenty of sun and regular feeding for best results.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

DIANTHUS   deltoides ‘Zing Rose’ – Maiden Pinks

Maiden Pinks are low-growing, mat-forming plants which are useful in the rockery or at the front of the border.  This cultivar has single, vibrant rose flowers on 6” plants.  The display lasts for most of the summer and will repeat if the plants are shared after bloom.  Full sun or partial shade.  Zones 4 – 7 (-30F).

DIANTHUS  gratianopolitanus – Cheddar Pinks

This Dianthus species is nativeto the Cheddar Gorge in England.  There are many cultivars available today, and they are fine garden plants well suited to the Southern garden.  All have glaucous blue-green foliage that forms a tussock, and fragrant blooms in spring.  Zones 4 – 9 (-30F).

DICENTRA  spectabilis – Bleeding Heart

This old-fashioned species has been a favorite for many years.  Arching branches 2-3’ tall carry dangling racemes of intricate pink and white hearts in late spring or early summer.   It is a great plant for the shady border, and a good cut flower as well.  It will go dormant in summer in many areas where it is very warm, so it is best inter-planted with varieties which will disguise the declining foliage.  Zones 2 – 9 (-50F).

DIGITALIS   x mertonensis – Strawberry Foxglove

The large, textured leaves at the base of this plant give rise to 3-4’ spikes of coppery-rose, tubular blooms in late spring and early summer. Partial shade and moist, but well-drained soil are best.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

ECHINACEA  purpurea – Purple Coneflower

This long-blooming perennial is native to the Eastern states.  It grows to 3 ft. with thick, sturdy, branched stems of flowers that have cone-shaped orange-brown centers in summer.  It prefers heat, and will thrive even in drought conditions. Use it is the border, wild garden, or cutting beds.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

ERIGERON   ‘Azure Fairy’ – Fleabane

This plant is useful for areas in full sun that have low to moderate fertility and excellent drainage. From a basal clump of leaves arise well-branched 30” stems of semi-double, lavender aster-like flowers in midsummer.  Zones 2 – 8 (-50F).

FESTUCA  cinerea ‘Elijah’s Blue’ – Blue Fescue

This very popular cultivar has wonderful powdery-blue foliage and grows only 6 – 10” tall.  It provides year-found foliage color and interest in the garden and also produces spikelets of bloom in summer.  It is useful in the rockery, in container plantings and for seaside plantings.

GERANIUM   x cantabrigense ‘Biokova’ – Cranesbill

This natural hybrid of Geranium dalmaticum and macrorrhizum has lobed foliage with a wonderful citrus scent and white flowers flushed pink in early summer.  It grows 8 – 10” tall, and has excellent fall color.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

GERANIUM   x ‘Johnson Blue’ Hybrid Cranesbill

This cross of Geranium himalayense and pratense has divided foliage and clear blue flowers for several weeks in summer.  It grows to 18” and is hardy in Zones 4 – 8.

GERANIUM   pratense – Meadow Cranesbill

This is one of the largest of the Cranesbills, growing 2 – 3’ tall, with wide, serrated leaves and dark purple-blue blooms in late spring.  It may require support to keep from flopping over, but is useful in moist, sunny area where a wild effect is desired.  Zones 5 – 8  (-20F).

GERANIUM  sanguineum – Bloody Cranesbill

This species has long enjoyed popularity with gardeners because it is very hardy virtually pest-free, and tolerates a wide range of conditions. The foliage mounds to 8 – 12” and carries magenta flowers from late spring through to summer.  It prefers partial shade, but will grow beautifully in full sun as well.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

HELIOPSIS    helianthoides ‘Summer Sun’ – False Sunflower

Cut flower enthusiasts will find this a particularly rewarding choice.  It is also a great addition to the fall border.  Sunflower-like blooms adorn this rugged 4’ plant in midsummer through autumn.  It will perform in full sun or partial shade.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

HEUCHERA   micrantha ‘Palace Purple’ – Small-flowered Alumroot

The foliage color makes this an outstanding cultivar for the shady border.  It is generally grown for it’s ivy-shaped, bronze-red leaves, but does produce delicate stems of greenish-white flowers in early summer.  Grows to 18”.  Zones 4-8 (-30F).

HEUCHERA   – Coral Bells

This is a long-lived perennial producing compact crowns of foliage and wiry stems holding cluster of nodding bells in late spring and early summer.  They are great as cut flowers or in the border, and attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

IBERIS   sempervirens – Evergreen Candytuft

Iberis is one of the first harbingers of spring, preceded only by the earliest bulbs.  It’s shiny, dark green foliage grows 8 – 12” tall, spreads to 2’ and is smothered by white flowers. Protection with evergreen  boughs is necessary in cold areas without snow cover.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

LAMIUM  maculatum – Spotted Deadnettle

This is an excellent groundcover for the shady garden with silver-grey leaves edged green and clusters of hooded blooms in late spring and midsummer.  Grows 6 – 8” tall.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

LAVANDULA – Lavender

Lavenders are well-known, aromatic perennial herbs with fragrant silver foliage and spikes of blue blooms all summer.  They are excellent for cutting and drying, and an essential element in many potpourris and perfumes.  Zones 5 – 9 (-20F).

LIATRIS  spicata – Spike Gayfeather

This is the most common species of Liatris available to gardeners.  Clumps of slender foliage throw spikes of bloom in mid summer and fall.  Liatris is a wonderful vertical accent in the border, makes a great cut flower, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies as well.   Plant in full sun or light shade.   Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

LIMONIUM    tataricum – ‘Wood-creek Select’  German Statice

A very popular Florist’s flower, Limonium is excellent for both cutting and drying.  Leathery rosettes produce 20” branched sprays of tiny, rosy stars with white bracts in mid to late summer.  Plant them in full sun.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

LYSIMACHIA  clethroides – Gooseneck Loosestrife

This plant is vigorous, but also very beautiful in bloom, and when placed in a well-chosen spot, makes a very rewarding garden plant.  Reddish upright stems are topped in summer by 3 – 6” long, arched racemes of white blooms.  They are terrific added to a mid-summer bouquet.  Plant them in full sun or light shade and moist soil in informal garden settings.  Allow plenty of room for spreading.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

MALVA   alcea ‘Fastigata’ – Hollyhock  Mallow

A planting of this Malva species will be around for many years, due to the fact that it will re-seed itself annually.  It tends to be sturdier and more disease resistant than the biennial hollyhocks.  Multiple branches of lobed leaves on 3 – 4’ plants carry single, pink blooms just about all summer.  They perform well in sun or partial shade, and are quite drought tolerant.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F)

MONARDA  didyma – Beebalm

Monardas are a member of the mint family, as characterized by their square stems and fragrant foliage.  Large heads of tubular blooms appear on 3 – 4’ plants in summer, are one of the absolute favorites of hummingbirds and butterflies.  Give them plenty of sun, adequate moisture, and room to spread.  Zones 4 – 9 (-30F).

NEPETA  gigantea ‘Six Hill’s Giant’ – Catmint

This nepeta is excellent for mass planting or hedge-type path edgings in the sunny garden.  The foliage is silvery and pubescent, and grows to 3’ including the racemes of violet-blue blooms which appear all summer.  It is extremely floriferous, and simple to grow.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

OENOTHERA   fruticosa – Common Sundrops

This plant has reddish, slender stems to 24” carrying terminal clusters of lemon yellow flowers in summer.  Planted in full sun and well-drained soil, it is simple to grow and drought tolerant.  The biggest enemy is poor drainage, which can cause crown rots.  Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

OENOTHERA   missouriensis – Ozark Sundrops

Leathery, lance-shaped foliage 10” tall and 3-4” canary-yellow blooms on short stems in summer.  This sun-lover is great in the rock garden or front of the border.  The luminescent color of the flowers make it especially nice for the early morning or evening gardener.  Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

PENSTEMON  barbatus – Beardlip Penstemon

Shiny foliage in low clumps with sturdy upright stems bearing racemes of tubular blooms.  It needs full sun and excellent drainage to perform well.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

PHLOX  maculata ‘Alpha’ – Wild Sweet William

The cultivars of this species have become increasingly popular in recent years because they are more resistant to mildew than other types. Reddish stems of dark green, shiny leaves 18 – 24” tall carry loose, conical pink heads of bloom in summer.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

 PHLOX paniculata (decussata) – Garden Phlox

Phlox paniculata are one of the standard border perennials.  They are prized for the huge, fragrant flower heads which they carry in summer and early fall.  They grow in full sun or light shade, and require fertile soil and regular feeding to perform to the optimum.  They are susceptible to powdery mildew, but many people wouldn’t be without them anyway.  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

PHLOX   subulata – Moss Pinks or Creeping Phlox

These evergreen, mat-forming plants have bright green need-like foliage to 3” that is smothered with sessile blossoms in early spring.  They spread to form a thick groundcover and are great for planting on sunny banks and hillsides.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

PHYSOTEGIA  virginiana – Obedient Plant

This plant is valuable for it’s late summer and fall spikes of bloom.  It grows well in full sun or partial shade and spreads quite rapidly.  It is well suited for the natural or wild garden.  It also makes an excellent cut flower.  Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

PLATYCODON grandiflorus – Balloon Flower

The common name of this plant refers to the large balloon-shaped buds that open to 2 – 3” cup-shaped blooms.  It grows in both sun and partial shade and is very hardy and adaptable.  There are few cultural problems except of crown rots which develop in wet soil.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

RUDBECKIA   fulgida sullivanti –‘Goldsturm’ – Black-eyed Susan

Everyone recognizes the Black-eyed Susan.  They are easy, almost pest-free, extremely floriferous and deserve a place in any border.  “Goldsturm’ is the most popular variety available, with bold flowers all summer and into the fall on 24 – 30” plants.   Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

SALVIA  x superba – Perennial Salvia

Salvias are easy, drought tolerant, and floriferous.  From a rosette of angular leaves arise many branched stems topped by spikes of small blooms.  The show begins in summer and continues until frost if old flowers are removed.  They require plenty of sun.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

SAPONARIA   ocymoides – Rose Soapwort

Masses of small pink flowers absolutely smother this plant in late spring.  Stems are 9” long, but tend to sprawl.  A great choice for the rock or wall garden.  Trim it after bloom to keep it neat and promote sporadic late bloom.  Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

SCABIOSA   caucasica ‘Perfecta’ – Pincushion Flower

A well-grown Scabiosa can produce a tremendous amount of bloom in one season.  The large, pale blue flowers are perfect for cutting and appear all summer.  In the border, plant them in groups for the best effect.  They perform best in cool, moist climates in full sun.  Zones 3 – 7 (-40F).

SCABIOSA   columbaria  ‘Butterfly Blue’

This plant has become extremely popular because it produces an abundance of flowers over a very long period.  Compact plants to 18” and lavender-blue blooms from spring through to frost.  An excellent performer for cool moist climates.

SEDUM – Stonecrop

In the interest of simplicity, we have grouped the different Sedum species together under the common name of Stonecrop, which appears in the common name of each anyway.  All species are sun-loving and drought-tolerant, unless otherwise noted.

SEDUM   acre ‘Gold Moss’

A dense, carpet-forming plant with bright green, needle-like foliage 3 – 6 “ tall.  Yellow blooms in late spring.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

SEDUM  kamtschaticum

Spreading, dark green, succulent foliage topped by clusters of golden-yellow star-shaped blooms in summer on 6 – 9” plants.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

SEDUM   telephium ‘Autumn Joy’

This is probably one of the best selling perennials of all time.  Light green, succulent foliage to 24” that resembles broccoli when budded, then develops into rosy blooms in late summer that remain throughout the fall.  Easy and versatile.  Zones 3 – 10  (-40F).

SEDUM  x ‘Vera Jameson’

This cross grows to 9 –12”, with blue-green leaves that turn red in the fall and dusky pink flowers in midsummer.  A real winner.  Zones 3 – 8 (-40F).

STACHYS  lanata – Lamb’s Ear

This groundcover is happiest in full sun and infertile soil.  The most notable feature is the soft, fussy texture of the silver-grey foliage from which it gets it’s common name.  12”  Zones 4 – 8 (-30F).

TRADESCANTIA  andersoniana – Spiderwort

Tradescantia is often seen in very old plantings as one of the few survivors of neglect.  It’s forgiving.  Dense clumps of linear foliage to 18” are topped by blue or purple flowers in late spring and summer.  Re-blooms after cut back.  Plant in sun or shade in moist or boggy locations. Zones 3 – 9 (-40F).

TROLLIUS   ledebouri ‘Gold Queen’ – Ledebour Globeflower

This hybrid of Trollius ledebouri has cut and toothed leaves and stems to 4’ of bright yellow 3” blooms in spring.  It is a great choice for shaded locations with moist soil, and is even happy in the bog.  It is also fantastic for cutting.  Zones 3 – 6 (-40F).

VERONICA  latifolia ‘Crater Lake Blue’ – Hungarian Speedwell

The stems of this Veronica sprawl prostrate along the soil to form a groundcover.  12 – 15” racemes of the most incredible blue flowers appear in spring.  It is a wonderful plant for the front of the sunny border and can be trimmed if it gets too far out of bounds.  Zone 3 – 8 (-40F).


Good Container Plants

Campanula carpatica
Campanula portenschlagiana
Chrysanthemum ‘Snow Lady’
Coreopsis ’Baby Sun’
Coreopsis auriculata ‘Nana’

Geranium dalmaticum
Geranium ‘Biokova’
Liatris ‘Kobold’

Pennisetum ‘Hameln’
Penstemon ‘Nana Rondo’
Phlox subulta ‘Emerald Blue’ & ‘Santa Fe’
Platycodon ‘
Sentimental’ Blue’
Salvia ‘May Night’

(except ‘Autumn Joy’ & ‘Gold Moss’)
Veronica ‘Red Fox’
Veronica allioni
Viola labradorica

Great for Rock Gardens

Anthemis rudolphiana
Aquilegia flabellata
Aster ‘Wartburg Star’
Aster ‘Purple Dome’
Chrysanthemum ‘Snow Lady’
Coreopsis ‘Baby Sun’
Geranium dalmaticum
Geranium sanguineum
Pennisetum ‘Hameln’

Penstemon ‘Nana Rondo’
Phlox subulata

Deer Resistant Varieties



Phlox subulata
Veronica ‘Blue Carpet’

Attract Butterflies & Hummingbirds 



Botanical and Common Plant Names

  • Achillea – Yellow Yarrow
  • Aegopodium – Snow-one-the Mountain
  • Ajuga – Bugleweed
  • Alcea – Holly Hock
  • Alchemilla – Lady’s Mantle
  • Alyssum (Aurinia) – Basket of Gold, Gold Dust
  • Anchusa (Brunnera) – Alkanet
  • Anemone – Pulsatilla, Pasque Flower
  • Anthemis – Golden Marguerite
  • Aquilegia – Columbine
  • Arabis – Rock Cress
  • Armeria – Sea Pink
  • Artemisia – Silver Mound, Wormwood
  • Aruncus – Goats Beard
  • Aster – Hardy Aster
  • Astilbe – False Spirea, False Goats Beard
  • Baptisia – False Indigo
  • Bellis – English Daisy
  • Bergenia – Saxifraga
  • Campanula – Bellflower, Harebell
  • Centaurea – Bachelor Button
  • Cerastium – Snow in Summer
  • Chrysanthemum – Painted Daisy, Pyrethrum
  • Coreopsis – Tickseed
  • Delphinium – Larkspur
  • Dianthus – Sweet William, Hardy Carnation, Pinks
  • Dicentra – Bleeding Heart
  • Digitalis – Foxglove
  • Echinacea – Coneflower, Rudbeckia
  • Echinops – Globe Thistle
  • Erigeron – Oregon Fleabane
  • Euonymus – Wintercreeper
  • Filipendula – Meadow Sweet
  • Galium – Sweet Woodruff
  • Gallardia – Blanket Flower
  • Grass – Blue Fescue
  • Gypsophila – Baby’s Breath
  • Hedera – English Ivy
  • Heliopsis – False Sunflower
  • Hermerocallis – Daylilies
  • Heuchera – Coral Bells
  • Hibiscus – Rose Mallow
  • Hosta – Plantain Lily
  • Houttuynia – Korean Houttunia
  • Lamium – Spotted Dead Nettle
  • Lavendula – Lavender, English Lavender
  • Liatris – Gayfeather, Blazing Star
  • Linaria – Toadflax
  • Linium – Blue Flax
  • Lobelia – Cardinal Flower
  • Lupinus – Lupines, Bluebonnet
  • Lychnis – Maltese Cross
  • Monarda – Bee Balm, Bergamot, Oswego Tea
  • Myosotis – Forget-Me-Not
  • Oenothera – Evening Primrose, Sundrop
  • Pachysandra – Japanese Spurge
  • Paeonia – Peony
  • Papaver – Oriental Poppy
  • Penstemon – Beardtongue
  • Perovskia – Russian Sage
  • Phlox – Garden Phlox, Wild Sweet William, Tall Phlox
  • Physalis – Chinese Lantern
  • Physostegia – False Dragonhead, Obedient Plant
  • Platycodon – Balloon Flower
  • Polemonium – Jacob’s Ladder
  • Primula – Primrose
  • Pyrethrum – Chrysanthemum
  • Rudebeckia – Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower
  • Salvia – Meadow Sage, Perennial Salvia
  • Saponaria – Rock Soapwort
  • Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower
  • Sedum, Spurium – Tricolor
  • Sedum, Spectabile – Autumn Joy
  • Sempervium – Hens & Chicks
  • Sidalcea – Prarie Mallow
  • Stachys – Lamb’s Ears, Wooly Betony
  • Veronica – Speedwell
  • Vinca Minor – Periwinkle, Trailing Myrtle
  • Viola – sweet Violet