Perennials for Season-long Bloom

By Dianne O'Connell


Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'
bluebeard
Deciduous shrub

I frequently use this perennial as a small shrub in a sunny location. It can be used with plants that have yellow flowers. It blooms as the monarchs migrate so sit back and enjoy this sighting.
Hibiscus syriacus 'Diana'
rose of Sharon
Deciduous shrub

The Rose-of-Sharon is a late season bloomer. It can be used as a single specimen or in groups. I like this cultivar for its large pure white flowers which bloom over the summer and even into fall. It is considered a shrub or a small tree. I find there is a renewed interest in these plants with good reason.
Hypericum calycinum
St. John's wort
Deciduous shrub

This little known perennial can make an excellent groundcover in full sun. The blue-green tinged foliage supports the yellow, round flowers. Place this perennial under trees, shrubs, or use it as another layer in filling the perennial border. Pick blue-flowered perennials for a great complimentary color scheme.
Acanthus spinosus
bear's breeches
Herbaceous perennial

A bold architectural statement is made with the use of Acanthus. I like to place it in the shade garden for the best results. The foliage stands alone and commands attention.
Achillea 'Coronation Gold'
yarrow
Herbaceous perennial

My sunny perennial gardens always have a place for yarrow. The flowers are landing pads for butterflies and also can be used for a cutting garden. This cultivar holds up well in the summer.
Achillea millefolium 'Paprika'
yarrow
Herbaceous perennial

Achilleas are excellent in a sunny perennial border. The feathery leaves are a nice contrast to the bright red blooms held up on sturdy stems. This cultivar will quickly form a dense mound with flat-topped flowers that will attract butterflies.
Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum'
bishop's weed
Herbaceous perennial

The variegated foliage brightens the shade gardens. This old-fashioned perennial that is very much in style today always has a place in the gardens I design. It has a long life span and is very low maintenance.
Ajania pacifica
ajania
Herbaceous perennial

This is a very attractive plant with extremely ornamental foliage. I find the elegant silver-edged foliage is a very nice compliment to the yellow, late flowers.
Ajuga reptans 'Catlin's Giant'
bugleweed
Herbaceous perennial

The foliage is the largest of this species. It is a deep purple-leaved foliage that is highlighted by the spike blue flowers. I find it makes a great groundcover or very nice container plant.
Alcea rosea (single)
hollyhock
Herbaceous perennial

This is an heirloom plant for the full sun perennial border. I love them as a focal point in the background in your landscape. The single or double cultivars will perform for years. Use lower growing perennials to hide the bare lower stems as the season progresses.
Alchemilla mollis
lady's mantle
Herbaceous perennial

This makes an excellent groundcover with densely hairy scalloped foliage for the shady border. The blue-green foliage is accented with lime-green flowers and combines well with blue foliage hostas.
Amsonia hubrichtii
blue star
Herbaceous perennial

I love the thin linear foliage of this plant that gives an airy appearance to the perennial border. The blue-star flowers are held up above the foliage. Although Amsonia is slow to establish, it is well worth the wait. This perennial is one of the few that has an autumn color of light, golden yellow.
Amsonia tabernaemontana
blue star
Herbaceous perennial

This is a tough plant for the perennial border. You'll fall in love with the numerous blue star-shaped flowers in late spring are great to combine with other full sun perennials. There is a nice light, golden yellow fall color to extend the gardening season. Be patient to get the plant established in your garden.
Anemone hupehensis var. japonica 'Pamina'
Japanese anemone
Herbaceous perennial

The late fall flowers are held on wiry stems. It is a pleasure to see the elegance this plant brings to the shade borders late into the season. This anemone will brighten your woodland gardens and the late flowers are delightful.
Aquilegia (Songbird Series) 'Cardinal'
columbine
Herbaceous perennial

You'll find that the vibrant red color of this columbine is a treat for the landscape. The funnel shaped flowers are a delight in the woodland garden. Use this columbine planted among other woodland plants for the best show.
Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila
fan columbine
Herbaceous perennial

If your're looking for blue flowers to add to your landscape this columbine will provide the solution. The thicker foliage is blue-green and is rather short. Use this columbine up close to appreciate the rather small size.
Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finnis'
western mugwort
Herbaceous perennial

I love the aromatic, silver-gray foliage of this is attractive plant. I like to place it in an area where I want to reflect the light foliage as this is an accent plant in the landscape. The gray foliage can be a filler to place between other plants. A must for a dry, well-drained area.
Asarum canadense
wild ginger
Herbaceous perennial

This plant has wonderful, shiny, kidney-shaped foliage. I find it makes a great groundcover for the shady garden. It is a native plant that is underused in the woodland garden. The small size can be used under most shade loving plants to add another dimension in the layering of plants.
Asclepias tuberosa
butterfly weed
Herbaceous perennial

Don't miss this plant for a great native plant for attracting butterflies. It needs to be located in a dry area and left alone. The bright orange, umbel flowers are a landing pad for butterflies. They are slow to emerge in the spring so don’t be overzealous with cultivation in spring.
Astilbe 'Deutschland'
astilbe
Herbaceous perennial

The shade garden is enhanced with the addition of any astilbe. This one is particularly fine. Provide moisture to avoid crispy, curled leaves. Combine with other ferns, hostas, lady’s mantle, bleeding hearts and lungworts.
Astilbe x arendsii 'Fanal'
astilbe
Herbaceous perennial

I love the blood-red panicle flowers of this astilbe, which are showcased againts its fernlike foliage. Plant this cultivar in a moist, woodland area with ferns, hostas, and even some annual impatiens, begonias or caladiums.
Begonia grandis subsp. evansiana
hardy begonia
Herbaceous perennial

This late blooming perennial begonia should be a welcome sight in any woodland garden. The red veins on the undersides of the foliage become an interesting accent. More comments will be made with this plant in your woodland garden than most others. It is ideal to see this in mass planting.
Bergenia cordifolia
pigsqueak
Herbaceous perennial

This is a long-lived undemanding shade perennial that has a place in any shady garden. The bold foliage should be grouped together to add a sharp contrast to fine textured plants. The flowers are not significant so the bold foliage provides companion planting.
Brunnera macrophylla
Siberian bugloss
Herbaceous perennial

The heart-shaped foliage is bold when compared to the blue forget-me-not flowers. I like to combine it with other shade loving perennials. Ferns, hostas, and epimedium are happy companions.
Centranthus ruber
red valerian
Herbaceous perennial

I use this heirloom full sun perennial frequently in garden designs. It is found in dry soils and found in walls in most of Europe. It makes a long lasting cut flower and a good source for butterfly nectar.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
plumbago
Herbaceous perennial

This late, blue-flowered perennial is slow to emerge in the spring so do not disturb it with early season cultivation. Plant this as a ground cover under shrubs or trees. I like to plant early spring bulbs with this late-to-emerge perennial.
Chelone lyonii
shellflower
Herbaceous perennial

This perennial is a favorite of mine for moist, shaded areas. The snapdragon-like flowers resemble the head of a turtle. This is a great addition for late flowers in the woodland garden. Use with ferns and astilbes.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam'
threadleaf coreopsis
Herbaceous perennial

This coreopsis is very long blooming in the sun garden. The flowers appear from June to October. Since it is so long blooming, it can easily be combined with many other sun-loving perennials.
Coreopsis verticillata 'Zagreb'
threadleaf coreopsis
Herbaceous perennial

This cultivar has deeper yellow flowers than the ever popular cultivar ‘Moonbeam’. This deeper yellow is a golden color addition to the perennial border. I find it is easily maintained in the border and it is long-lived.
Dalea purpurea
purple prairie clover
Herbaceous perennial

This is a native sun-loving perennial. It was noted in the Journals of Lewis and Clark, which is reason enough to grow it in your garden. The fern-like foliage is highlighted with deep purple dome-shaped flowers. It is a great lover of dry landscape areas.
Dicentra spectabilis
bleeding heart
Herbaceous perennial
 
I love this popular cottage garden plant. It goes go dormant in your shade garden and one should leave a void or plant ferns as a filler.
Echinacea purpurea
purple coneflower
Herbaceous perennial

No native sun garden should be without this coneflower. The erect flowers are held up by sturdy stems and they are a welcome addition to a native garden, wildflower border or a sunny border. The dried seedheads are sought after by birds. Don’t deadhead the flowers to interfere with this feeding habit.
Echinacea tennesseensis
Tennessee coneflower
Herbaceous perennial

This Tennessee coneflower has deep pink ray flowers that are up-turned. I find it is a delight for the sunny perennial border. It was once on the endangered species list, but is now found in numbers and deseerves a prominent place in the home landscape.
Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum'
bishop's hat
Herbaceous perennial

No woodland garden should be without this genus. It is easily combined with hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts and Brunnera. It can be useful as a groundcover and is invaluable as a delicate addition to your shade garden.
Epimedium x youngianum 'Niveum'
bishop's hat
Herbaceous perennial

This is smaller in habit than other epimediums. It is a welcome addition to the woodland garden with the young foliage beginning reddish and turning mid-green in summer. The flowers are delicate and appear on wiry stems. It can be used as a groundcover under trees or shrubs.
Eryngium yuccifolium
rattlesnake master
Herbaceous perennial

The native rattlesnake master provides a bold texture in the sunny border. It is found in the wildflower meadow, but can be at home in the sunny perennial border. I love the swordlike, spiny foliage with blue-gray coloration that offers a strong texture to the garden.
Eutrochium purpureum
Joe Pye weed
Herbaceous perennial

This is a native Eastern North American plant. It needs to be placed in the back of the border to allow for its 6’ to 8’ bold character. It is attractive to butterflies and good for cutting. I like to use it in a meadow garden, wild garden or herbaceous border.
Gaura lindheimeri
gaura
Herbaceous perennial

This is a good choice for a long-flowering plant for a sunny border. It can be considered a “see-though” plant since it has the flowers arranged on airy stems. It loves a dry location, thought, and hot weather is its friend.
Geranium maculatum
wild geranium
Herbaceous perennial

Geraniums are a long time favorite for perennial borders I design. This species is native and is best placed in the shade garden. It can be used as a groundcover most effectively. It is truly at home in a woodland garden.
Helleborus orientalis
hellebore
Herbaceous perennial

The hellebores is finally getting the attention it so deserves. It certainly rates high in my book. The leathery foliage is a delight in the woodland garden. It is great to use under trees, shrubs or among other bold leaved perennials.
Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia 'Palace Purple'
coral bells
Herbaceous perennial

The genus Heuchera should play a vital roll in your herbaceous borders. Generally, I find that the foliage is more important than the flowers in design work. The strong purple foliage combines well with both blue and golden foliaged hosta.
Hibiscus 'Blue River II'
hardy hibiscus
Herbaceous perennial

The tropical-looking foliage compliments the large white flowers spaced along stems that don’t need staking. I think it is best placed at the back of the border or used as a single specimen in the sunny border.You could use Eupatorium or ornamental/native grasses to compete with the large bold space this hibiscus occupies in the sunny garden.
Hibiscus coccineus
scarlet rose mallow
Herbaceous perennial

This selection has multiple branching up and down the stems. I find that this tropical looking plant can be at home in the sunny border with ample moisture. The palmately lobed leaves are distinctive and showy. The plant is dominant in the garden so let it be a standout.
Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude' AUTUMN JOY
stonecrop
Herbaceous perennial

This is an old-time garden favorite and with good reason. It has thick, fleshy foliage and the flowers attract butterflies. The flowers actually change colors and progress from greenish-white to light pink to burgundy to brown. This sequence is a delight to follow. Combine it with other perennials that will compliment this changing color scheme.
Hylotelephium 'Vera Jameson'
stonecrop
Herbaceous perennial

A very worthy sedum for you to know about is 'Vera Jameson.'. The blue-green foliage is tinged with purple and is complimented with pink flowers. A dry, sunny location is a welcome home for this long-lived performer.
Leucanthemum x superbum 'Alaska'
shasta daisy
Herbaceous perennial

I find they don't get any easier to grow than the Shasta daisies. Plant in full sun with good drainage and have a cut flower garden before your eyes. The long bloom time is an asset. Use the daisies with yarrows, iris, sedum, coreopsis and coneflowers.
Ligularia dentata 'Desdemona'
leopard plant
Herbaceous perennial

Find a cool and moist area in your garden and you have the best home for the Ligularias.This plant would be great to use in combination with ferns and astilbes. The foliage is bold and the plant will be at home for a lengthy stay when well sited.
Liriope muscari 'Big Blue'
lily turf
Herbaceous perennial

A great clump-forming ground cover that retains the green foliage late into the winter. It is so versatile because it can take full sun or bright shade. You only have to cut it back once a year so it stays in place. It is great to edge walkways, mass planting on hillsides or plant under trees and shrubs.
Liriope muscari 'Variegata'
lily turf
Herbaceous Perennial

This variety has variegated foliage with stripes of green and cream coloration.  It is clump forming and can be planted in both sun and bright shade.  Cut it back once a year for easy maintenance.  I use it often along walkways, in mass plantings on hillsides, or under trees and shrubs.
Liriope spicata
lily turf
Herbaceous perennial

This lilyturf lives up to its names and spreads rapidly in a creeping form, not clump forming. It resembles unmowed grass and is a plant for a massed planting area. It is more aggressive than the species muscari so chose your site carefully. Use where you want no competition.
Lobelia cardinalis
cardinal flower
Herbaceous perennial

This plant is a hummingbird magnet. The scarlet-red flowers appear in late summer and are absolutely striking. Plant it in a moist, shade location with ferns, and bugbanes as companions. Make sure ample organic matter is also a companion. A native that all should place in their woodland stream areas. For an added location place L. cardinalis in a pot and place it in the water garden.
Lobelia siphilitica
blue cardinal flower
Herbaceous perennial

The blue flowers appear a little later than those of L. cardinalis. It needs to be in a moist, shady location in the woodland garden. If it is happy where you locate the plant, it will set seeds and spread. I like to site it with ferns and bugbanes as happy neighbors.
Lychnis coronaria
rose campion
Herbaceous perennial

This plant needs a well drained, dry location to be happy. The silver-gray foliage allows the flowers to play a major hit with their bright magenta color. I find that it has to be combined with care, though, as this color is a show on its own; don't over-shadow it.
Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'
creeping Jenny
Herbaceous perennial

This low trailing yellow-foliaged groundcover lights up the area. It is a great vigorous groundcover that will creep under most perennials. It is not a shy member in your garden.
Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander'
loosestrife
Herbaceous perennial

Yellow loosestrife is a sturdy perennial with golden-yellow flowers in July and August. It is very vigorous and can be useful in the full sun. I like to plant it with Monarda, Butterflybush and Coneflowers.
Mazus reptans
mazus
Herbaceous perennial

This low growing groundcover is a “steppable”. Plant it among your flagstone walkways. It can take the foot-traffic. You'll treasure it for its 3-inch height and ability to creep among most perennials.
Mertensia virginica
Virginia bluebells
Herbaceous perennial

A great native plant for the moist, shady areas. It appears in early spring with pink buds that open to delicate blue bells. You will want to combine this harbinger of spring with ferns, columbines, hostas, and wild ginger. These will fill in since Mertensia goes dormant as summer sets in only to re-emerge the following spring.
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
mondo grass
Herbaceous perennial

In my bood, the striking black foliage of this plant should have a place in the garden. In like to use it as a groundcover or in containers for the bold color. The light lilac-pink flowers are a compliment to the black foliage.
Pachysandra terminalis
Japanese pachysandra
Herbaceous perennial

This groundcover will be at home under trees and shrubs. Use it in large drifts with hostas, ferns, mayapples and most shade-loving perennials. I like the fact that the foliage remains into the winter months. Plant tall, large-flowering daffodils among it to announce spring.
Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'
beardtongue
Herbaceous perennial

The narrow pointed foliage of Penstemon sets off many green-leaved plants in the perennial garden. I recommend plant it with blue-flowering plants such as Peroviska, Caryopteris, and some new blue-flowering butterfly bushes. All penstemons are attractive to hummingbirds.
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Russian sage
Herbaceous perennial

This is a beautiful blue flowering, long-flowering sun loving perennial that I know you will come to love as much as I do. Use it with monardas, daylilies, coneflowers, rudbeckias. Russian sage is fragrant when the foliage is crushed. Use it for the airy appearance it can provide among other sun loving perennials.
Perovskia 'Filigran'
Russian sage
Herbaceous perennial

This Perovskia has a finer texture foliage than the species. I love its gray-green foliage with white undersides that is fragrant when crushed. Use this perennial in a full sun, dry location and enjoy the 10 weeks of flowers. It combines well with monardas, daylilies, coneflowers, rudbeckia. Blue flowers are a cooling effect in a garden.
Phlox paniculata 'David'
garden phlox
Herbaceous perennial

I find that summer flowering phlox is an exclamation point in the perennial border. Every garden deserves a form of the heirloom summer phlox. The white flowers of this recommended cultivar combines well with daylilies, rudbeckias, grasses, butterfly bushes and coneflowers. The summer phlox can be a cut flower.
Phlox paniculata 'Mount Fuji'
garden phlox
Herbaceous perennial

The summer phlox is an heirloom perennial plant. The white flowers will combine well with perovskia, daylilies, coneflowers, rudbeckias, and grasses since the stems are sturdy. I have found this cultivar good for the St. Louis area.
Podophyllum peltatum
may-apple
Herbaceous perennial

The native mayapple is at home in a colonized formation in a dry woodland garden location. I love to watch the foliage unfolds like small umbrellas in the early spring. It makes a good neighbor for hostas, ferns and epimediums.
Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum 'Variegatum'
Solomon's seal
Herbaceous perennial

The graceful arching variegated foliage is a highlight in the shade garden. It is easily seen in the woodland garden. The stems usually all bend in the same direction. I like to combine it with ferns, astilbes, hostas, epimediums, and wild ginger.
Rudbeckia missouriensis
Missouri coneflower
Herbaceous perennial

This native sun-loving rudbeckia is little known; I want to change that. Find a full sun location and add this tough, delightful native to your garden. The ray-like petals are smaller and play a delicate role.
Sedum kamtschaticum var. ellacombeanum
orange stonecrop
Herbaceous perennial

This sedum is an easy ground cover to grow in a sunny location. Its short, 6-inch height makes it a neat placement around not only perennials, but also shrubs. Place it in an area that you want some mass plantings.
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks'
rough goldenrod
Herbaceous perennial

The autumn season is announced when this Solidago comes into bloom. I find the arching yellow flowers of this cultivar are a great treat to see. The plant actually “explodes” in your garden. Try late flowering Asters as a good companion.
Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears'
lamb's ear
Herbaceous perennial

This white, wooly foliage perennial is a good front-border plant. Place it in a full sun, dry situation. The light, pale silver foliage truly lights up the border. The foliage is large, but I find it mixes easily with most perennials.
Stokesia laevis 'Purple Parasols'
Stokes' aster
Herbaceous perennial

The Stokes’ aster should be placed up-close for the best view of the exquisite blooms. They are a long-flowering perennial and make excellent cut flowers with a long life indoors. Plant with other sun loving perennials, such as, daylilies, monardas, echinacea, and sedums. It is definitely long-lived and easy-care.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Andenken an Alma Pötschke'
New England aster
Herbaceous perennial

The New England aster is a native plant. I love this cultivar for its vivid, hot-pink blooms that occur late into the fall. Use this aster in the mid to back sun perennial border. Combine it with Caryopteris or Solidago for a nice color combination.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
New England aster
Herbaceous perennial

The New England aster is a native plant. 'Purple Dome' has a mounding form that can be used in the sun perennial border. I like that it grows only 18 inch height and does not need pinching to keep its shape. The late flowers are a delight to enjoy into the cool autumn days.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
aromatic aster
Herbaceous perennial

This native plant has a nice mint scent to the foliage. Place this in full sun and be prepared for late color to the garden. I like to mix it with Solidago, grasses, Anemones, Boltonia and sedums.