“What is ol’ PlantsbyMail rambling on about today?” you may ask (rhetorically, because presumably you've already read the post title). Well.. We’re talking about the Powerhouses of Petals. The Barons of Bloom. The Foremost in Flowers. Perennials, of course!
Specifically, we're going to touch on 8 of our favorite perennial selections.
But first things first:
What are Perennials Technically?
True perennials are herbaceous plants (herbaceous means that they lack woody stems) that survive more than one season, whether as an evergreen or by dying back down to their roots every winter. Spring sees new growth for the new growing season, and most come equipped with plenty of blooms. Technically, any plant is classified as a perennial if it survives more than one season, but we’ll be focusing on herbaceous perennials in this post.
So without any further ado, here are 9 of our favorite perennial varieties!
Commonly called Sage, and yes it is a relative of the kitchen spice, Salvias are a favorite among gardeners all over, and for good reason. They are some of the most prolific bloomers around. These perennials send up spikes of small, tubular flowers in an assortment of eye-catching colors. They also produce blooms that are characteristically long-lasting, and are a favorite among butterflies, hummingbirds, and honey bees.
The Saucy Wine and Saucy Red Salvia from the Southern Living Plant Collection are some of our favorite Salvias. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better Salvia (or even perennial) than these two varieties. They’re naturally compact, sterile, and self-cleaning. Meaning that once they’re established, there’s not much you’ll need to do to keep them looking great. They begin to bloom in late spring, and keep blooming until the first frost of the year. Icing on the cake, they grow like wildfire, and they’ll become even more impressive with each passing year.
Commonly called speedwell, bird’s eye, and gypsyweed, the Veronica is a classic perennial that has a variety for any landscape. They come in an assortment of heights, as well as a variety of colors, and their prolific blooms grace the landscape from spring until the first frost of winter. They’re largely deer resistant and drought tolerant, and are notoriously popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.
The Dark Blue Moody Blues and Pink Moody Blues Veronica are moderately sized varieties that are naturally compact, making them excellent choices for usage in containers or low-maintenance mass plantings. The Dark Blue Moody Blues works fantastically in front of reblooming velvety red roses, such as Knock Outs. Create a yearly recurring display that will truly shine by planting low-growing, blooming perennials in front of several Moody Blues, and then planting Knock Out roses behind them.
From the prairie to your garden, Echinaceas have been turning heads for generations. Echinaceas don’t need pampering. Their hardy nature will make sure that they stick around for seasons to come. Spiky-topped blooms identify Echinaceas instantly, and if allowed to stick around and mature, birds will feed on the seeds atop the flowers in winter when food is scarce.
The Crazy Pink and Crazy White Echinacea are for flower lovers ONLY! Gorgeous drooping pink (or white, respectively) petals will grace these perennials from mid-summer to fall. And if you want to talk about some serious bloomitude… a single mature Crazy Pink or Crazy White is capable of producing over 100 blooms each year!
Heucherella are a hybrid species, a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella. This relatively new species combines some of the more appealing aspects of both parent species. Frequently used as a shady groundcover, Heucherella bring foliage texture and color that you almost won’t believe. We love using them in containers, where they provide a unique contrast against most other foliage types.
We grow several different species of Heucherella, including the Tapestry, Alabama Sunrise, Buttered Rum, Twilight, Cracked Ice, and Solar Eclipse. Each of these varieties is a true beauty in the landscape, but for maximum effect, you’ll want to find colors that will pop against their vibrant foliage. Some, like the Twilight Heucherella, prove that black truly does go with everything and will look phenomenal in almost any situation. Others, like the Buttered Rum Heucherella, with its buttery caramel coloration, can be an ideal addition to an autumnal display.
Sometimes called a ‘blanket flower,’ Gaillardia are hardy perennials that feature daisy-like flowers. Originally named after the 18th century French magistrate, M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, most modern day varieties you will come across these days are actually the hybrid species, Gaillardia x grandiflora. You know a gaillardia bloom when you see it, with their characteristically ragged edged petals that are typically brilliant red and/or orange. These perennials are generally particularly low-maintenance as well as tolerant of droughts and dry soil, making them a perfect choice for anyone looking for some color in their landscape without any extra work.
The Celebration Gaillardia and Sunset Flash Gaillardia from the Southern Living Plants are two great varieties for flower lovers. Both varieties will bloom almost all growing season long. For a rich scarlet red bloom, check out the Celebration Gaillardia. For a vibrant red-orange bloom with yellow tips, take a look at the Sunset Flash.
Sometimes known as ‘Pinks,’ Dianthus are a classic breed that has a rich history in perennial gardens. You might be wondering why they’re called Pinks even when some are not actually pink. Well, you may have heard of, or used, pinking shears with fabric before, so all you need to do is take a look the zigzagging edges of Dianthus blooms to understand where that name came from.
Look for the characteristic blue-green, pointed foliage to identify Dianthus. Traditionally, these beauties grow in lovely clumps that continuously send up blooms. Additionally, these perennials feature an extended blooming period, with an initial considerable bloom in spring followed by sporadic reblooms. Deadheading will help to promote new flower growth.
The Scent First series of Dianthus features a couple great choices for any prospective Dianthus growers, the Raspberry Surprise Dianthus and Coconut Surprise Dianthus. These perennials are particularly charming, with double carnation blooms that produce a pleasantly spicy fragrance. In addition, you can expect an impressive drought tolerance on these naturally compact varieties.
Agapanthus, frequently called African Lily, originate from Southern Africa and have some of the most remarkable bloom clusters around. Traditional agapanthus leaves are a gorgeous bright green that brings a tropical feel to any landscape. Some feature thick, strap-like foliage, however, some agapanthus produce thin, grass-like foliage. You know an agapanthus bloom when you see it, tall spikes of bloom clusters come in a wide range of colors and transform your garden. Hummingbirds and butterflies love these perennials and will frequently visit them for a quick snack.
We offer several different varieties of Agapanthus, including the Ever Amethyst Agapanthus, Queen Mum Agapanthus, and Little Blue Fountain Agapanthus. The Ever Sapphire and Queen Mum Agapanthus are fantastic choices for that traditional, thick strap foliage that people have come to know and adore. The Ever Sapphire is absolutely stunning with brilliant, violet-blue flowers, while the Queen Mum is just as breathtaking with elegant white and violet-blue bloom clusters. The Little Blue Fountain is ideal for anyone looking to plant a smaller, thin foliage variety. All of these selections are particularly disease and pest resistant, as well as heat and drought tolerant.
Chances are that you’re already familiar with Lantana. They’re some of the more common perennials around, however, they’re popular for a reason. Brilliant blooms appear from spring until the first frost in most zones. Butterfly lovers will appreciate the droves of butterflies that will visit your Lantanas. Once established, Lantana are very hard to kill, making them a long-lasting addition to your landscape or garden. Their velvety green leaves are the perfect backdrop for their brilliant red, orange, yellow, white, and/or pink blossoms.
The Little Lucky Peach Glow Lantana is a splendid choice for anyone looking to plant Lantanas in their garden. This variety produces multi-colored orange, pink, and yellow bloom clusters with the classic Lantana fragrance. Naturally compact, the Peach Glow reaches 1’ H x 1’ W, therefore staying more densely foliated than many other varieties. This selection stays in bloom longer than traditional Lantanas, and in addition, is remarkably drought and heat tolerant.
Thanks for Reading!
There are some fantastic perennials that didn't make this list, but we had to stop somewhere! We'll have to leave them for another list somewhere in the future.