Plant

Top 20 Beautiful Perennial Flowers for Your Garden

Perennial flowers are the true superstars of the garden. They are extremely reliable, coming back year after year, and gardeners truly rely on them to make their flower beds look great. If you ask a gardener what their favorite perennial flower is, they’ll likely give you a list of five, six, or more – it’s next to impossible to pick just one! There are just too many good options to be had – good news for you! Here are some of the easiest-to-grow, most resilient, and toughest perennial flowers you can get for your garden.

01. Milkweed

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

If you cut a stem or leaf, this plant will give off a milky substance.

Profile:

Do not be fooled by weed in the name of this plant. While some gardeners might call this perennial aggressive, it’s actually making a comeback as an appealing and must-have plant in the backyard. Traditionally, you’ve probably seen it growing in open fields or alongside the road. However, gardeners are now seeking it out because of the benefits it provides to the monarch population. Milkweed is the host plant for monarch caterpillars, so this plant is absolutely essential to ensure their long-term success. (The population has actually been dwindling, so gardeners are taking action.)

Green Thumb Tip:

You can definitely grow milkweed from seed, but if you have a hard time getting it established, opt for plants instead. If your local garden center doesn’t offer milkweed, then try ordering it online.

Top Picks:

Here’s where a little research with your state or local native plants chapter will really come in handy. Figure out which milkweed is native to your area and plant it. Many native plants organizations will have online resources or spring plant sales, and milkweed is definitely a plant you’ll want to buy directly from them.

02. Bee Balm

Perennial Flowers

Profile:

If you’re trying to support the diminishing bee population (it’s a serious problem!), bee balm is a good place to start. It definitely attracts bees and is also very popular among hummingbirds. The blooms of this plant look so cool in the way they spread out. This is one of the best native plants you can grow – there are great native options in just about every part of the country, so look for those, too. Hit up your local garden center and start bringing in the birds, butterflies, and bees into your yard!

Green Thumb Tip:

Like many perennials, bee balm benefit from being divided every few years. So as it multiplies, consider splitting it and sharing it with friends. Your friends get new plants, and you’re encouraging the overall health of your bee balm.

Bonus Tip:

Bee balm has a reputation for getting a disease called powdery mildew. The best way to ensure your plant doesn’t get this is by making sure it has good air circulation. Don’t crowd it! You can also look for disease-resistant cultivars.

03. Tulip

beautiful spring flowers

Profile:

Tulips popping up all across landscapes and gardens is one true sign of spring. If you want this to be the case in your yard, you’ll have to plant them in fall because they need to spend the cold winter in the ground before they can bloom in spring. Dig a hole three to four times deeper than the bulb itself and drop it in, pointy side up. You’ll want to do this before the ground is frozen or too hard to dig. You can get tulips in any color you want (except blue), so happy shopping.

Green Thumb Tip:

Many of the new tulip cultivars are gorgeous, but they don’t last as long as the other varieties – some even just consider them annuals. Keep this in mind when planting. If you want a true perennial, talk to your garden center and ask them to recommend cultivars that will last for several years.

Top Picks:

Tulips are actually split into several different categories, and knowing a few of your options can really help when you’re planning your garden. For instance, parrot tulips have ruffled petals. Darwins are taller, reaching more than 2 feet. Doubles are just how they sound – they have double blooms. And then the singles can either be late or early on bloom time. Read the labels when you’re buying bulbs.

04. Daylily

Poisonous Flowers in Your Garden

The botanical name Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words – one means “beauty” and the other means “day.”

Profile:

Daylilies have the great foliage of an ornamental grass while also producing beautiful and colorful blooms. While flowers only last for a day (hence the name), it seems as though they have an end- less supply of blooms because they really keep going and going all summer. It doesn’t need much care at all. Plus, many gardeners consider them drought-tolerant. In addition, you can get them in a huge range of colors. In fact, there’s a whole society out there that celebrates this plant (check ’em out at www.daylilies.org).

Green Thumb Tip:

Daylilies work best in groups. Plant your favorite varieties 18 to 24 inches apart. This will give them plenty of space to grow, and it’ll create a nice area of your garden with great foliage.

Top Picks:

There are so many daylily options on the market that it’s really hard to pick just a few to recommend. One of the most popular and famous daylilies is Stella de Oro, which has gorgeous golden yellow blooms and is pretty much maintenance-free. Happy Returns is lemon yellow, but it has ruffled petals. Little Business has beautiful red blooms on a smaller plant overall. Tiger Time is a stunning orange cultivar.

05. Hops

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

Profile:

Hops – the magical plant used to make beer! If you’re into home brewing at all, then you have to add hops to your list of plants to grow. It’s a vining, trailing plant, and it can actually create really good privacy or interest growing along a fence. Think of it as an excellent alternative to ivy. The only tricky thing about hops is that it is dioecious. This means you need to plant both a male and female variety to get the hops fruit. Order online so you know you have both, or talk to someone at your local nursery.

Green Thumb Tip:

If you grow hops in order to harvest it for beer, do a little reading about what is involved. Basically, you’re collecting the cone-like structures (called strobiles) from the female plants. This happens in the fall. If you collect them properly, then you can use them to make beer. Otherwise, just enjoy hops as a great vine for your backyard.

06. Veronica

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

Profile:

With Veronica, it seems like people fall into one of two camps – either they know about it and love it or they aren’t familiar with it at all. You definitely want to be in that first camp, though. Veronica is a striking plant with tall, spiky blooms that look great throughout the summer. In addition, it’s a must-have plant for any butterfly garden – not a day will go by during which you won’t see a butterfly stop off for some nectar.

Green Thumb Tip:

For people who love blue plants, you just might be able to get it with Veronica. Cultivars like Crater Lake Blue and Sunny Border Blue will get you that blue hue you’re after that is so hard to achieve in the plant world.

07. Purple Coneflower

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

What’s that goldfinch doing on your coneflower in fall? It’s eating the seeds!

Profile:

If there’s one perennial in this whole article that you need to plant, then this is it. (Wait, did I say that already?) Seriously, this is the one. Purple coneflower is so strong, comes back year after year, and adds fantastic color in the garden. Butterflies adore it. Butterflies love it. And the color is spectacular. It truly aims to please and even offers great visual interest if you keep the plant up throughout winter.

Green Thumb Tip:

There are so many amazing coneflowers available that are gorgeous. If you fall in love with some of these, you just need to keep one thing in mind: these newer varieties might not last as long. Don’t let this deter you from planting them, though. But if you’re looking for ones that last for years, stick to the natives or consult your local garden center.

Top Picks:

Here are some of the cool new options you can find on the market today: Green Envy offers green blooms that turn pink as they age. Butterfly Kisses or Double Scoop Raspberry are both double bloomers. Lemon Yellow or Cleopatra are good options if you want yellow. Tangerine Dream is deep orange. Sombrero Salsa Red is deep red and gorgeous!

08. Golden Rod

Perennial Flowers

Profile:

Gardeners often overlook goldenrod because it doesn’t necessarily have big or showy flowers. It’s mostly known as a wildflower, growing wild in meadows, fields, and parks. It does have some superior qualities, though. For instance, it’s drought-tolerant and can grow in a wide range of conditions. The flowers bloom in late summer and then last all the way through fall. It’s starting to make a bit of a comeback because it’s so popular among bees and butterflies.

Gree Thumb Tip:

Plant two or three of these in the front of your perennial border. They’ll add a great splash of yellow, yet they are short enough not to overshadow other plants.

09. Yucca

Poisonous Flowers

Profile:

Planting yucca will save you a little taste of the desert. It does well in poor or sandy soils, and it is definitely eye-catching growing in the garden. It has spiky green foliage that looks like it could be growing in the Southwest. Then in the summer, it will send off tall stalks of gorgeous, bell-shaped white flowers, several feet into the air. Even after the blooms fade, you’ll still have that spiky foliage to add some fun to your garden.

Green Thumb Tip:

It says full sun, but surprisingly, it’ll do really well in some shady spots, too. Just make sure that it still has some sun throughout the day to establish the plants.

10. Black-Eyed Susan

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

Butterflies love black-eyed Susans, so it’s not uncommon to see them stopping by for nectar.

Profile:

While a lot of perennial flowers do best if they get a head start as plants, black-eyed Susans are a good one to grow from seed if you’d like. They can produce dozens of flowers on a single plant, even crowding out some of your other plants, so position with caution if you’re growing these for the first time. They have the signature “black eye” in the center of the flowers with beautiful golden blooms. They will grow best in fertile, well-drained soil, but they’re actually pretty forgiving, too, so if you have a challenging soil type, give ’em a try.

Green Thumb Tip:

As your black-eyed Susans start to fade in the summer, cut back the flowers – there’s a chance you might encourage them to bloom again in fall.

Top Picks:

Goldstrum is one of the most popular varieties available, and Viette’s Little Suzy is a smaller cultivar. Check with your local native plant society for many different types of Rudbeckia.

11. Garden Peony

Pretty Perennial Flowers

It’s common to see ants crawling around on peony buds before the flowers open.

Profile:

Hands down, garden peonies have some of the most gorgeous, fragrant flowers in the garden. They are also quite delicate, so if you pick them to put in a vase, you’ll probably get only a few days out of them. Peonies (which some people actually throw into the shrub category) are one of the most sought-after blooms because of the great spring color they bring. They’ve been a favorite among gardeners for generations. Chances are good that your grandmother had peonies growing in her yard (and maybe still does). One of the best things about them is that once they are established, they can live up to one hundred years.

Green Thumb Tip:

For the most part, peonies are pretty maintenance-free; however, their big heavy blooms do cause them to droop. For this reason, you’ll want to plant them in a more protected area, out of the wind. Some people even stake their peonies so the blooms don’t cause the branches to fall to the ground.

Top Picks:

For early flowers, look for Early Scout. Firelight has gorgeous, pale pink flowers. Elsa Sassflowers are great later in the spring and feature white blooms. Heirloom peonies are popular and have fantastic fragrance. New peony varieties are often more compact and hold up better, but keep in mind you might lose some of that fragrance.

12. Coreopsis

Beautiful Perennial Flowers

Profile:

Heat, humidity, and drought are no competition for coreopsis. Neither is poor soil. Coreopsis will do great in just about any condition. Of course, this can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. It’s common to see this plant growing as a wildflower out in meadows and fields. It’s not a super tall plant, but it really adds great shades of sunshine in any garden.

Green Thumb Tip:

If you want to encourage the plants to rebloom, trim back a bit in mid to late summer.

Top Picks:

Double Sunburst has double blooms that are extremely striking in the garden. Baby Gold is a tried- and-true favorite.

13. Blanket Flower

Perennial Flowers

Profile:

Blanket flower earned its name because it resembles blankets woven by Native Americans. This perennial is a little on the short side, so it’s the perfect perennial to plant at the front border of your garden. The flowers are striking with multiple colors of red, orange, and yellow. They demand well-drained soil. You can try starting this one from seed, but if they don’t take, opt for a plant from the garden center instead. This flower is also a favorite of bees.

Green Thumb Tip:

Generally, this plant doesn’t need to be deadheaded at all; however, if you remove the spent blooms toward the end of summer, you just might encourage them to rebloom in the fall. Keep in mind, this plant is pretty short-lived, so if you notice it fading after a couple years, plant more!

14. Butterfly Weed

Pretty Perennial Flowers

Profile:

Many don’t realize it, but butterfly weed is actually in the milkweed family, so it counts as a host plant for monarchs. More than monarchs love it – plenty of other butterflies will stop by to enjoy its nectar, too. Butterfly weed is a native perennial that does really well in all types of soil, and it’s known by gardeners to be drought-tolerant.

Green Thumb Tip:

You can grow butterfly weed from seed, but it’s not always easy to find. Instead, opt for plants and you’ll see blooms that same summer.

15. Shasta Daisy

perennial flowers

Profile:

Have you ever seen daisies growing alongside the road or in a field? Shasta daisies are very similar, but the backyard variety has more and bigger blooms. Still, they are the classic daisy flower, and the bright white blooms are sure to brighten up a garden. If you plant by seed, it’ll take a couple seasons before they produce in full. Otherwise, look for plants at your local garden center. Divide the plants every few years to keep them producing at top capacity.

Green Thumb Tip:

When trying to get Shasta daisies established, be sure to plant them in well-drained soil and give them lots of water. They are a pretty low-maintenance plant overall, but this will help early on. Then you’ll have years of flowers!

Top Picks:

Snow Lady is actually a Shasta daisy that you can get to flower from seed in its first year. Daisy May reblooms several times. Highland White Dream is a great tall variety with large flowers.

16. Catmint

perennial flowers

Yes, cats love this plant. So snip off a few pieces to bring inside to your cat.

Profile:

Gardeners grow catmint for the foliage (silvery green leaves) as much as they do for the blooms. This is seriously one resilient perennial. If you’re looking for something to fill space, this is a great candidate because it’s really full as it spreads out. Some gardeners say that it’s deer-resistant, so if you have that problem, it’s worth a shot. Plant catmint a few feet apart and then watch it thrive. You don’t have to water it much, either. This is a great plant for feeding the bees! Butterflies and hummingbirds like it, too.

Green Thumb Tip:

This plant is an early bloomer and will produce flowers by late spring. As it starts to fade in summer, cut it back by about one-third and you’ll likely be rewarded with new growth and blooms for late summer and fall.

Top Picks:

You can find tons of great catmint varieties today: Walker’s Low earned the honor of Perennial Plant of the Year in 2007. Little Titch is a dwarf kind that grows less than a foot tall. Blue Wonder has beautiful blue flowers. Purrsian Blue is a vigorous grower that stays neatly compact all season (14 to 18 inches) without the need for trimming.

17. Tail Garden Phlox

pretty perennial flowers

Profile:

Phlox is widely known and grown in the gardening world. You can find creeping phlox, which many use as a groundcover or filler plant in their perennial bed, but let’s take a look at the tall and beloved tall garden phlox. You can find this flower in gardens as well as growing in the wild with tons of beautiful blooms on each stalk. If you grow it in your garden, you can expect to have months of great color and butterflies, too. It’s really one of the longest blooming perennials in the garden.

Green Thumb Tip:

Sometimes phlox has the reputation of being susceptible to the plant disease known as powdery mildew. So look for newer varieties that have been grown to be mildew-resistant.

18. Yarrow

beautiful perennial flowers

Profile:

Yarrow is one perennial plant that sometimes get a bad reputation because they easily spread. (This is because they have rhizomes, which send off lateral shoots.) Not all varieties are so aggressive, though, so if you don’t mind how quickly they could spread, definitely try this plant in your garden. It’s one of the most drought-tolerant options you can grow. While other plants will fade in the hot, humid, dry summer, it will keep right on growing and looking great with its tiny little flowers.

Green Thumb Tip:

Yarrow is traditionally white or sometimes yellow. Look for the newer colors of yarrow, which have beautiful color and are more well-behaved in the garden. (They’re still drought-tolerant.)

19. Sedum

perennial flowers

Try growing sedum in your containers. It adds some cool texture.

Profile:

As part of the succulent family, sedum is easy to grow, doesn’t require a lot of water, and once you get it established, it can last for years. This perennial (most people know it as autumn stonecrop) has thick stems and leaves, and tiny star-shaped flowers that really pack a punch when you grow two or three plants together. If you have a really dry area or a rock garden, then you’ll definitely want to check out sedum because it might be one of the only things you can get to thrive there.

Green Thumb Tip:

Autumn stonecrop offers good foliage early on in the season, but it really comes alive in late summer and fall when the weather starts to get cooler. This is when the flowers really turn bright and beautiful. So if it doesn’t seem like your sedum is doing everything it should right away, just have a little patience.

Top Picks:

You can get so many different types of sedum. Look for the cultivar Fulda Glow or Lime Zinger, both rich in color. Also look for the cultivar called Brilliant (Sedum spectabile), which is a beautiful bright pink.

20. Trumpet Vine

Poisonous Flowers

Profile:

Trumpet vine is one of the biggest, most striking, awesome hummingbird plants you can grow. Once you get it established, it loyally comes back every year, growing 20, 30, and even 40 feet, attracting hummingbirds the entire season. The trumpet-shaped flowers are gorgeous and bright. They will attract butterflies and bees. You definitely need a strong support system to grow this vine – an old stump, sturdy pergola, even a telephone pole. It’s truly one of the most eye-catching plants in the garden.

Green Thumb Tip:

This plant has suckers, so this means it sends off lots of offshoots to grow. Some even consider it aggressive or invasive, so don’t get it started if you don’t have the space and support. But otherwise, it’s one of the best vines you can select.


FAQs on Perennial Flowers

Do perennial flowers really come back every year?

Yes. Well, kinda. Well, mostly. Perennials do come back year after year, but they aren’t miracle plants. Eventually, most perennials will likely die, either because of a harsh winter, overcrowding, or other reasons. In general, you can find both short-lived and long-lived perennial flowers. Don’t let this deter you, though. One of the best things about perennial flowers is that they are a great investment because you’ll get many years out of them.

What about new varieties of perennial flowers that I hear about?

They are great! In many instances, they live longer than the originals. (This isn’t always the case, though. Coneflowers and tulips are both examples where they don’t last as long.) In general, newer varieties are better adapted to today’s garden, and they have fewer problems with things like disease. If you’re not sure, just ask. Chances are, the experts at your local garden center know exactly why a new variety is cool or unique.

Where’s the best place to buy perennial flowers?

Your local garden center should have an excellent selection of perennial flowers. However, if you’re looking for newer varieties, natives, heirlooms, etc., then you might want to take your search online. If you saw some of the “top picks” in this article that you want to try, do an online search for them.

How many perennial flowers are there?

You can seriously find thousands of varieties of perennial flowers out there. This article was hard to write because how do you select the best perennial flowers when there are so many options?! Here’s a tip – if you see something you like in a friend or neighbor’s garden, find out what it is. Just ask, because gardeners are often happy to tell you. They’re usually proud of their plants. This is how to figure out what you like most.

What’s the best benefit of perennial flowers?

Hands down, they’re a great investment. In many instances, you’ll want to buy plants (versus seeds) or the perennial flower you want might only be available in a plant. This could mean a slightly larger initial investment from you, but they’ll be reliable for years!

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of