Confused about what to plant in your garden? Why not try perennials?
Perennials are a great way to add color to your flower beds. They have the advantage of coming back every year and many spread to fill in spaces, giving you more value for the money spent on them.
The photo above (from late summer) is of the perennial bed next to our deck that extends along the side of our house. "Autumn Joy" Sedum (in the foreground) is just starting to bloom with Russian Sage and Black Eyed Susans in full summer bloom.
One of the ways I reduced gardening chores was by planting low maintenance perennials in this bed. I picked a few favorites that were considered to be perennial in my area and repeated them throughout the bed. Then I just let them grow year after year (with a bit of trimming and deadheading) until they filled in this large space. The reward for patience was a bed filled with color for most of the summer, late fall and winter interest from the seed heads, and very little tending to do throughout the year.
NOTE: It's important to know if the plants you choose will be hardy where you live. Please check the USDA Hardiness Zone Map here to find out your zone number. (Mine is 6b). The map is interactive - just put your zip code and it will list your zone. When you choose your plants, check to be sure they are hardy for your zone. This information will be found on plant tags at the nursery or on listings in the plant catalogs.
Here are 5 of my favorite perennials for you to try in the sunny areas of your garden.
My favorite variety is "Autumn Joy". This plant blooms in late summer. The pink flower heads turn a dark russet color in fall. I leave the brown flower heads on the plants for winter interest. The only maintenance I do on this plant is to remove the dead stems in spring as new shoots come up every year. This sedum creates mounds which you can dig up and divide when they become too big.
#2 Black-Eyed Susans
As you can see from the picture, these are very bright and add tons of color to your garden. They start blooming in mid-summer and continue into the fall. I don't spend any time deadheading them - I just leave the seed heads on for winter interest. The best thing about this plant is that it spreads. And the worst thing about this plant is that it spreads! Seriously, these are terrific for filling in a large area with a big swath of color. If they spread too much, pull out the plants that you don't want (they spread by runners) and simply plant them somewhere else or share them with a friend.
#3 Russian Sage
This plant is very low maintenance. I love the wispy stems and purplish blue flowers. It blooms mid to late summer and only requires occasional pruning.
These are one of my favorite perennials. There are so many varieties and colors to choose from. Many form masses of plants that get bigger every year filling in blank areas of your garden with big pops of color. They bloom in early to mid-summer and if you deadhead them, some will offer a second flush of blooms. When they get bigger than you want, dig them up in the fall, divide and then fill in other areas or share them with friends. My all-time favorite variety is "Happy Returns" which has lovely yellow flowers.
#5 Variegated Liriope
Plant this for its beautiful variegated foliage and multi-season interest. This plant provides a great backdrop for flowering plants in the spring and early summer, purple flowers that bloom in the late summer and seed heads that I leave on the plant through fall in winter. Cut back the brown foliage in the spring as new blades will push up from the base.