Perennial plants and flowers may just be my favorite layer of the 4-season landscape. With so many beautiful options to choose from, I doubt I am alone in that. From late spring through early fall, perennial plants and flowers take the spotlight in a mixed border. The “bones” of your garden will almost disappear behind the wealth of blooms they offer. Plus, they come back strong year after year, without much fuss.
My favorite perennial plants and flowers for the mixed border
Here are some examples of common and easy-to-maintain perennial plants and flowers you can try.
No shady garden should be without these hardy perennials. Hostas do great in a shady spot — under another shrub or tree, or shady corner of your garden that’s blocked from the sun. Hostas can be large to miniature sized, emerald green to silvery blue in color with solid to boldly patterned leaves. To top it off, they are very easy to care for and can be divided every two years or so. Zones 3-9. Shop hostas online.
Daylilies are so easy to grow you’ll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. Although each bloom lasts only one single day, they carry numerous buds on each scape so they continuously bloom throughout the summer. There are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of colors, heights, forms, and flower sizes (the minis are very popular). Daylilies typically grow 1-3′ wide and produce numerous flower buds that are showy over a long period. Zones 3-8. Huge daylily selection here.
At about 15” wide Coral Bells (aka Heuchera) boast tiny flowers in late spring, borne on stalks that soar 12-24” above the leaves. Coral Bells begin blooming in early June and don’t stop until the end of August. The leaves are evergreen , even when covered in snow, adding welcome pops of pretty color to a desolate winter garden. Zones 3-8. Amazing selection of coral bells.
What Blooms with What?
Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!
Blue Queen Salvia
Salvia (aka Sage), is part of the mint family and blooms profusely for months. Salvia are super easy to grow and attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. ‘Blue Queen’ is a pretty deep purple variety you should try. Zones 5-9 | 12″ W x 18″ H Shop for salvia online.
Related to the carnation, dianthus comes in multiple varieties, so there’s one for nearly every garden scenario. Long-blooming abundant flowers provide a delightful display all summer long. Some varieties are even perennial, and it will self-sow easily. Once planted, dianthus needs little tending to put on a good show. Zones 4-8 | 10-18″ W x 3-6″ H – purchase pretty dianthus online.
Echinacea Purple Coneflower
A truly lovely, trouble-free perennial for the sunny garden, the hardy Echinacea (Coneflower) is pest and disease resistent. Coneflowers bloom in summer in a range of colors — pink, white, yellow, orange, and more! In the fall they attract songbirds, which enjoy eating their seed-filled cones. Zones 3-8 | 3′ W (clumps) x 4′ H (stems) – Find your perfect coneflower.
Quick Tip: If you’re enjoying my top picks of perennial plants and flowers, hop over to my post about Landscape Layering where you can find information about all 5 (yes… five) layers you should have in the mixed border.
You’re in for a treat — a bonus layer beyond perennial plants and flowers are ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses deliver a lot of bang for the buck. They introduce exciting textures to the garden, along with movement and even sound as they rustle in the breeze. You can count on these beautiful, low-maintenance grasses to add interest to your landscape all year long.
Elijah Blue is one of the most popular, no fuss ornamental grasses. The low growing blue-green clumps form in tight mounds making them great for border plantings and adding texture. Zones 4-9 | 6-12″ W x 6-12″ H | Full Sun – Purchase Elijah Blue fescue here.
A slight breeze will put the 5′ tall, feathery “blooms” in motion adding life to any landscape. Because of its strong vertical growth habit Feather Reed grass maintains its posture even in heavy rain or snow. Deer resistant. Zones 4-9 | 2-3′ W (clumps) x 3-5’ H | Full Sun – Try the Karl Foerster Feather Reed today.
Striped tuber oat grass
Perennial plants and flowers make up the fourth layer of the 4-season landscape. In layers 1-3 we talked about ornamental trees, evergreen shrubs, and perennial shrubs. Now that these “workhorses” are in place, perennial plants and flowers will add fun color and style to your landscape. Choose perennials plants for their seasonal flowers and colors but also consider each plant’s form, texture and color. Why? Because the flowers of your perennial plants are fleeting compared their foliage, which is usually on display for months before it dies back in the fall. Since perennial plants and flowers are smaller in size, you can really add a lot of these to your landscape plan. If you want to learn more creating a 4-season garden, check out my post about Landscape Layering or read more about my Garden Pyramid for planting success.
What are your favorite perennial plants and flowers to grow? Let me know in the comments below!
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What Blooms with What?