Hollyhocks provide excellent architectural height in the garden and make good backdrops for lower growing perennials. Try growing them in the cottage garden style by planting them up against a wall or picket fence. Though their stalks are very strong, they may need to be staked if they are planted in a windy site.
Dubbed the “monarch of the prairie”, this native grass was once the dominant component of the American tallgrass prairie. It adapts easily to a wide range of soil and moisture conditions as long as full sun is provided. This long-lived grass has a variety of uses including screening, naturalizing, restoring prairies, and nesting materials for birds and mammals.
A staple item for late summer and fall borders, Japanese Anenomes are graceful plants with beautiful, satiny flowers borne on tall stems above a clump of shorter basal foliage. Watching them sway in the breeze brings a feeling of calm and peace to the garden. Since they are a bit late to rise in the spring, they make an ideal cover for the dying foliage of spring bulbs.
This unique perennial grows best in part to light shade, though if given consistent moisture it can also grow in full sun. It prefers richly organic, deep loamy soil that is moist but well-drained. This plant is not drought tolerant. It typically dies back to the ground in winter and re-emerges in spring to quickly form a shrub-like clump.
As its name implies, Sea Pinks are found naturally along coastlines where few other plants can handle the high salt concentration. Inland, this attribute makes them useful for planting along sidewalks or driveways that are salted in winter. They are also good candidates for rock gardens, troughs, or between pavers.
An excellent choice for hot, dry sites, Artemisia should be grown in very well-drained soil and full sun. To avoid "melting out", it should be grown in poor soil and trimmed back in late spring to rejuvinate the foliage. This plant tends to open up in the center during hot summers, so it is best grown north of zone 7.
Though Aruncus tends to be a slow-gower the first couple of seasons, once it is established it puts on a fabulous show year after year. Make sure it has plenty of room to grow when you first plant it; transplanting this species is a very difficult task. This species is native to North America.
Gather bouquets of Asclepias all summer long; the long stems are wonderful for cutting and are long-lasting. Sear the ends of the cut stems over a flame to stop the milky sap from leaking out. Following the fabulous flowers, green fruits develop which rupture to reveal seeds with long, silvery-white, silky hairs reminiscent of its cousin, common milkweed. These are great to use in dried flower arrangements.
Bergenia can be used in a variety of ways in the landscape. It is most impressive when used as a durable, evergreen groundcover, but it can also be used in containers and rock gardens. It is quite effective at softening the hard edges of pavement and also works well as an edging or filler plant in flower borders. Bergenias are reliable evergreen perennials and are rabbit and deer resistant.
Brunneras are classic perennials that are treasured for their shade tolerance and lovely blooms. They make a fantastic groundcover, though the variegated forms may be slower to spread than the species. Try growing them in containers too so they will be close at hand when you want to snip a few blooms for a spring bouquet.
The English hybrid type of delphiniums are bred by Dowdeswell's Delphiniums in New Zealand and are hand crossed to produce the highest quality seed. These F1 hybrids have excellent form, strong stems, and a vigorous growth habit. They were selected for their improved tolerance of heat and humidity, while retaining their cold hardiness.
This perennial forms a bushy clump of dark green, leathery, pinnate leaves that smell of lemons when crushed. Deer typically leave this plant alone due to its aromatic foliage, but butterflies enjoy its blossoms. Dictamnus is rumored to get its common name from a light volatile gas that is emitted from the plant, though we haven't tested this theory ourselves.
Praised for their cheerful brightly colored flowers, coneflowers are a mainstay in today's garden. Be sure to leave some spent blooms on the plants in the fall because their seeds provide winter food for finches and other birds. The dried seed heads also provide architectural interest in the winter.
These distinctive flowers rise above the showy silvery green foliage. Though they look prickly, they are not as rough to the touch as you might expect. Echinops makes a great cut flower or dried everlasting. They add a unique element to any arrangement and are becoming more popular with florists every year.
These perennials require little care once established. They are heat tolerant and actually prefer to be grown in poorer soils. They get their name from the manner in which they used to blanket North American prairies with their blooms. They can still be found in fields and along roadsides in the prairie region and into the Rockies.
Baby's Breath has long been valued as a filler plant in perennial border gardens and also as a long-lasting cut flower. It makes the perfect cover up for dying bulb foliage or for perennials, such as poppies or bleeding hearts, that go dormant in summer. Baby's Breath also makes an excellent dried flower.
Blue Oat grass looks like a miniature water fountain, with its densely packed leaves gently spraying upward and arching back downward at the tips. This species displays spiky, blue-gray foliage that will draw your attention all season long. Blue Oat Grass adds a wonderful coarse element to rock gardens, coastal gardens, or dry hillsides.
One of the most common and most cultivated perennials, there are thousands of different varieties of daylilies coming in just about every size shade and color(except blue!) Daylilies can survive many harsh conditions that other plants cannot including: polluted city environments, slopes, poor and dry soils, near pavement that is salted in winter, and under Black Walnut trees.
Hostas are exceedingly popular perennials in today's gardens due to their versatility in the landscape. Their subtle colors, tall flower scapes, and broad, coarse leaves fill a niche in garden designs that few other plants can achieve. Their large leaves provide excellent coverage for dying bulb foliage. Hostas also grow well in city environments where the air may be polluted by car exhaust, etc.
No garden would be complete without Tall Bearded Irises. Though they have been grown for decades, new and improved hybrids continue to be developed every year and fabulous color combinations have been achieved. The Tall Beardeds bloom after the Dwarf Irises but before the Japanese and Siberian Irises. They are wonderful accent plants for late spring gardens.
Siberian irises are haled for their elegant, delicate flowers and disease resistance. They perform admirably in the sunny to partially shady garden, but need plenty of water throughout the season to continue looking their best. In naturalized settings, they are particularly effective around water features. They can also be grown under Black Walnut trees since they are not effected by juglone. Siberian Irises bloom before Japanese Irises but after Tall Bearded Irises.
It is essential to provide proper siting for this perennial. Plant it in full sun and moist, well-drained soil to avoid potential disease issues. Early in the season, pinch these plants back to encourage a more compact habit. Lychnis tends to be a short-lived perennial, but it will self-seed.
Nepetas are easy to grow perennials that provide a beautiful show of color all summer long. They prefer to be planted in full sun and ordinary, well-drained soil. When Nepeta's stems are broken, they release an aroma into the air that tends to attract cats, thus its common name, Catmint.
Peonies are classic garden plants that add a bit of nostalgia and charm to the garden. Their fragrant blooms and lush foliage have made them popular for years, and with the recent resurgence in breeding, they will continue to improve. Peonies are simple to grow and can be utilized in many ways, including mass plantings, specimens, or hedges. By choosing a mixture of early, midseason, and late blooming varieties, you can have blooms for up to 6 weeks.
In the center of a poppy's flower rests a very large, velvety-black seed capsule surrounded by prominent, dark purple stamens. Altogether, these flowers absolutely steal the show when they are in bloom. After the bloom cycle is completed however, these perennials will go dormant, so plan on planting other plants nearby to fill in the gaps.
Platycodons are easy, trouble-free perennials that thrive in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained. They can easily adapt to grow in either full sun or part shade. Be patient in the spring, as this genus is slow to emerge. Cut the whole plant back after the first hard frost.
Salvia is easy to grow in almost any climate. Though it is drought tolerant, it will bloom better with regular watering. Deadheading encourages a longer bloom time. If plants get leggy during the season, cut them all the way back to the newly developed foliage. If cut back, plants may rebloom in fall but often the flowers are fewer and smaller.
Saponaria is a sprawling plant which forms a nice carpet of semi-evergreen foliage. Small sprays of pink flowers appear prolifically in early summer. It works well in a rock garden, as a groundcover, or between stepping stones on a path. The common name, Soapwort, refers to the sap from the roots of S. officinalis which was once used to make soap.
Tall, upright sedums form substantial clumps of foliage which can be substituted for shrubs in the landscape. Their stout, sturdy stems support the massive flower heads which develop in summer and burst into bloom in fall. If left standing, they provide winter interest and food for birds.
Sempervivum is comprised of one large rosette called the "hen" which sprouts many smaller rosettes around it called "chicks". As the plants age, the "hen" may die out and be replaced by the "chicks". Plants can be divided easily at any time by pulling up some of the "chicks" and replanting them elsewhere. This plant is particularly effective when planted in the cracks and crevices of stone walls or walkways. It is also very attractive in containers.
This grass is very heat and drought tolerant because it is deep rooted. It is often planted en masse as a groundcover or as a specimen. Prairie Dropseed is native to North American prairies and occurs naturally from Canada to Texas. Much of it has been destroyed by overgrazing and farming, so now it is only found in undisturbed prairies. Native Americans once used its seeds to make flour. This plant gets its name from the way the tiny mature seeds drop to the ground in the fall. Birds and other wildlife depend on this plant as a nutritious food source.