15 Best Types of Perennial Flowers to Grow in Your Garden

15 Best Types of Perennial Flowers to Grow in Your Garden

When you started gardening, you probably started with some easy to grow zinnias or marigolds. Now, you’re ready to fill in with other flowers and enjoy your perennial plants year after year. That’s the best part of perennials. They increase in size and look more beautiful each year. Plus, they can be divided if they use up the space you originally planted them in. The divisions can be replanted in other areas of the garden, or you could gift them to your gardening friends. Perennials can live for decades, and some will outlive the gardener. They will more than pay for themselves over time compared to annuals which live one season and die.

When you start to plan your perennial garden, decide on the location first. If you have a group of trees where the lawn struggles to survive, that may be a great location to convert to a perennial shade garden. There are a lot of plants that do well in shade. Start with some flowering shrubs that are shade-tolerant. Azaleas are a great choice. The shrubs will give some structure to the garden as well as a backdrop for the shorter plants. Then, start adding the perennials. It doesn’t have to be all completed in the first year. Start with surefire shade plants like hostas, ferns and sedum. Hostas and ferns are more important for their leaves, but sedum will have flower heads that are going to provide fall color. Gradually add the plants that will provide flower power to your shade garden. These include columbine, astilbe, bleeding hearts and native forest plants like jack-in-the-pulpit and trilliums. 

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If you have a privacy fence in your yard, use the fence as a backdrop for your perennial bed.  Choose an area that will receive full sun and fill it with beautiful flowering perennial plants. Plant a flowering vine like clematis on the fence. If your fence is in a shady area, use hydrangea vine. Next, add a few sun-loving flowering shrubs like hibiscus, spirea or even roses. Then, add the perennial flowers, keeping in mind color and bloom time. Perennials usually have a time during the spring, summer or fall when they will be in bloom. Quite a few will bloom in the spring and have a second bloom in the fall, too. The goal is to have plants blooming throughout the season so you can enjoy a stunning garden any time of the year.

garden with flowering perennials

When you plant over time, it gives you the added opportunity to evaluate your choices each year. If you notice that one area of your garden is predominantly spring flowering and there is nothing in bloom in the summer or fall, you can make changes. Either add plants to the section being especially selective to choose plants that bloom in the summer or fall, or you might want to relocate some of the spring bloomers where there aren’t any in your garden. The same is true of color. If you see an area of the perennial bed that is all yellow flowers, you might want to move in some other colors to that part of the border.

Add Stunning Flowering Shrubs to Enjoy Year After Year

On the subject of color, your perennial bed can be many different colors, or you can concentrate on just one or two colors. An example of one color would be the moon garden where all the plants are green and white. Variegated leaves and plant structure also become more important. A garden with two colors only could be white and shades of blue or purple for a more formal and restful garden. Mixes of reds and yellows are warmer and more informal.

Once you decide on the type of perennial garden you want, start with some tried and true perennials. As you become more comfortable with perennial gardening, add some more exotic plants or new plants and new varieties. Perennial gardens are so much fun, and you will soon be anticipating the arrival of your favorite plants year after year. Here are some great choices for your perennial garden.

Perennial Shrubs

1. Azaleas 

This is a great flowering shrub for the shade garden. Azaleas are available in many colors and bloom from late spring into the summer. Choose a plant variety that also has an attractive leaf for interest when the plant is not in bloom. Azaleas have a shallow root system so don’t cultivate around them—rather, mulch well to protect the root and minimize weeds.

perennial shrub hibiscus

2. Hibiscus 

Hibiscus comes in different heights depending on the variety. The hibiscus flower is very tropical-looking and comes in many different colors. This used to be a southern only plant that had to be brought indoors each winter, but today, there are varieties that will do well in the northern garden.

3. Roses 

There are lots of different types of roses available today. The newer roses are developed to need much less attention. Lots of gardeners are afraid of roses because they think they are high maintenance plants. Check out the different varieties available today and you are sure to find the perfect plant to live in your garden. You will be so glad you did when you smell the fragrance of your roses and when you cut one for use indoors.

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Shade Perennials

4. Astilbe 

Astilbe is one of the most spectacular flowering plants for your shade garden. Blooming in late spring into summer, this plant sends up flowering plumes of color. The color range is from white to pink to red and the flowers last a long time. This plant spreads by rhizomes and is easily divided and transplanted to other parts of your garden.

5. Hosta 

This perennial plant is used mainly for its foliage. It will send up flowers which you can enjoy, but many gardeners prefer to cut off the flower stems and allow the foliage to remain the star. Hostas are very shade-tolerant and come in all different sizes. There are miniature hostas that could fit in a teacup, and there are huge varieties that grow from four to five feet tall. All hostas have sturdy leaves that range from rounded to elongated and come in all shades of green, with many that are variegated with yellow or white. In addition, there are hostas that have yellow leaves and hostas that are sun-tolerant. There’s room in any part of your garden for hostas.

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6. Ferns

Ferns are growing naturally in most woodlands, so they will do well in your shade garden. Ferns range in size from the long arching fronds of the ostrich fern to tiny miniature ferns. Colors range from the bright green of the ostrich fern to the deep burgundy of the Japanese fern. The Japanese fern is shorter and more like a hidden treasure in the shade garden as it might not be noticed right away. Group the Japanese ferns to give them more prominence. 

shade perennial ferns

7. Sedum 

Sedum is a succulent and one of its best traits is its ability to tolerate periods of drought and high temperatures. Sedum comes in leaf color from green to burgundy and will start to flower in summer into fall. This is a neat plant that grows in a mound shape with the flower held just above the foliage. 

Sun-loving Perennials

8. Peonies

This is a perennial that your grandma probably grew, and if you are really lucky, you have a piece of that plant. Peonies are a favorite and will live for generations. There are peonies that are believed to be over a hundred years old. Peonies have large, luscious flower heads that give the most beautiful scent. The flowers grow on long stems making them great as a cut flower. Peonies range in color from white to pink to deep red. Newer varieties come in salmon and lemon yellow. Many varieties are combinations of colors. Peonies do need support to help the long stems to support the weight of the huge flowers, so add bamboo or wire stands around them to keep them upright.

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9. Echinacea 

Echinacea or coneflower is a native plant that seems able to withstand whatever Mother Nature wants to send it. This is a hardy plant that is also a favorite of the pollinators like bees and butterflies. Leave the coneflowers in the garden in the winter and you will enjoy watching the goldfinches and other birds feast on the seed heads. The original color of the flowers is a dusky pink, but now there are varieties in almost all colors besides blue. The coneflower is traditionally a tall plant, but there are newly developed shorter versions as well.

purple cone echinacea flowers

10. Heuchera 

Heuchera is often grown for its colorful foliage, but many gardeners still love the flowers which its common name describes: coral bells. These delicate stems are held above the foliage and are covered with tiny bell-shaped flowers. Heuchera foliage comes in many colors, from lime green to dark purple and from pink to many different bicolors. 

11. Liatris

Liatris is a native plant that has flowers that are pink, purple or white. This plant will throw up spikes that can be up to four feet high and are covered with flowers. They bloom from the bottom up and are great in the vase. Of course, they make a great vertical statement in the garden. Don’t be surprised to see a lot more butterflies in your garden as they love liatris.

12. Yarrow

This plant is another old-timer in the perennial garden. That tells you that this is a hardy plant and valued by gardeners over the years. Yarrow is actually an herb and has grey-green foliage with dense flowerheads that are red, pink, yellow or white. Yarrow can reach two to four feet tall, and the leaves give off a spicy scent. This plant is drought-tolerant and will bloom from early summer into fall.

sun loving perennial daylilies

13. Daylilies 

Daylilies are another very hardy plant that will produce flowers year after year without a lot of attention. Daylilies have arching leaves that grow in a mound. In the summer, the plant will grow long stems with multiple flowers on each. The flowers will bloom one at a time and come in all colors except blues. The foliage gives a nice contrast to the upright structure of neighboring plants.

14. Dianthus

This little plant is one of the first to come to life each spring. By the beginning of summer, it is covered with flowers in shades of white to pink to reds. Its lower height makes this a great plant for the front edge of the garden bed and will come back year after year.

15. Black-Eyed Susan

This daisy-like flower is a vibrant golden yellow with a russet brown center. The Black-Eyed Susan will start to bloom in the summer and continue through fall. The flowers are held on long stems and the plant will be up to three feet tall. Black-Eyed Susans are self-sowing, so if you don’t want them to spread, they will need to be deadheaded. 

black eyed susans growing from pot

While this list contains some classic favorites, there are many more to choose from. Using these plants will get your perennial beds off to a great start and give you the skills you need to maintain a perennial garden. Then, you can start adding more fussy or new-to-you plants.

Visit your local botanical gardens to see plants that you are drawn to and want in your garden. Talk to your gardening friends to see what they are growing in their gardens. The best way to make decisions about what to plant is to see them in real life and to find out the pros and cons of each plant. Then, you can order flowering shrubs and perennial plants for your garden and start enjoying them year after year.


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