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Perennials for season-long bloom

Deborah Brown

yellow flowers

Stella d'Oro

There's been a tremendous upsurge of interest in growing perennial flowers. You must plan your perennial garden carefully, however, since most perennials actually bloom only three to four weeks, some even less. Without knowing when they bloom, you could end up with lots of color in late June and early July, but very sparse color in August and September, or vice-versa.

Foliage plays an important part in the perennial garden, too. Even though a plant isn't blooming, its leaves add color, form and texture. This may be particularly valuable in shady gardens, where fern fronds and hosta leaves can be as important as any perennial flowers that might bloom there.

Many people combine both annuals and perennials in the garden. Flowering annuals such as petunias, sweet alyssum or dwarf marigolds that bloom all summer long can provide continuity of color when perennials may be in a 'down' period.

Fortunately, there are some perennials that bloom for extended periods of time, eight to ten weeks or more. Choosing liberally from this group simplifies planning for season-long bloom.

Much of the following list is excerpted from a talk presented to the Pennsylvania Nursery Conference by Darrel Apps, Chadds Ford, PA, then printed in the spring 1990 quarterly newsletter of the Perennial Plant Association.

Perennials that bloom for many works
Botanical name Common name or additional comments
Achillea millefolium 'Fire Kind' Fire King Yarrow
Aster x frikartii 'Wonder of Staffa Needs winter protection
Chrysopsis villosa 'Golden Sunshine' Golden Aster
Coreopsis certicillata 'Moonbeam' Threadleaf Coreopsis
Dicentra eximia 'Alba' White fringed Bleeding-heart
Dicentra eximia 'Luxuriant' Fringed Bleeding-heart
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Baby Cole' Very compact gaillardia
Geranium sanguineum 'Striatum' Cranesbill
Hemerocallis 'Happy Returns' Happy Returns Daylily
Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' Stella d'Oro Daylily
Nepeta x faassenii 'Dropmore' Dropmore Catmint
Perovskia atripliciflorus Russian Sage
Platycodon grandiflorus Balloon Flower
Rudbeckia nitida 'Goldquelle' grows 5 to 6 feet tall
Salvia x superba 'East Friesland', 'Lubeca', and 'May Night'
Scabiosa caucasica 'Butterfly Blue Beauty' Pincushion
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' Flowers start rose, age to copper, then rust color
Veronica longifolia 'Sunny Border Blue'
Foliage for season-long interest
Botanical name Common name or additional comments
Alchemilla mollis Lady's-Mantle
Amsonia tabernaemontana
Artemisia 'Silver King', 'Silver Queen', and 'Silver Mound'
Baprisia australis Blue False Indigo
Cimicifuga racemosa Black Snakeroot
Hosta species Hosta, Plantain Lily
Iberis sempervirens Candytuft
Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' Spotted Dead Nettle
Macleaya cordata Plume Poppy
Paeonia lactiflora Common Garden Peony
Pulmonaria saccharat 'Mrs. Moon' Bethlehem Sage
Sedum 'Ruby Glow' & 'Vera Jameson' Sedum, Stonecrop
Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet' Lamb's-Ears
Thermopsis villosa False Lupine

Check gardening catalogs and books for detailed descriptions of these plants' growth characteristics; their height, flower color and shape, and season of bloom.

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