Many gardeners like perennial flower plants because they return year after year. However, that doesn’t mean that you can plant them once and forget about them. Perennials require regular maintenance to look and perform their best. Staking, pruning, deadheading, dividing and pest control are a few of the gardening chores you can expect to enjoy when growing perennials.
To get the most bang from your buck, be sure to include some long blooming and repeat blooming perennial flowers in your garden design. Large blocks of color add impact to a garden and the best way to achieve that is with long blooming perennial flowers. Here are a few of my favorites:
COREOPSIS (TICKSEED) USDA Zones 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 3+ Months
Coreopsis are undemanding plants, but short lived. Either allows them to self-seed or divide the plants every 2-3 years and replant the newer, outer sections. Flower buds form all along the stems, making deadheading a time-consuming challenge. Once the initial buds have completed blooming, sheer the plants back by 1/3 to encourage new flower buds.
GOOD CHOICES: Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, C.v. ‘Golden Showers’, C. grandiflora ‘Early Sunrise’
DIANTHUS (PINKS) USDA Zones 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 4+ Months
While most Dianthus have a long natural period of bloom, many will rebloom with some deadheading. Several varieties are also evergreen and make nice edging plants. Dianthus does well in any well-drained soil, though it prefers a slight alkalinity. They don’t tend to live very long and should be divided or seeded regularly.
GOOD CHOICES: Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Bath’s Pink’, D. g. ‘Cheddar Pink’, D. deltoids (Maiden Pink)
ECHINACEA PURPUREA (CONEFLOWER) USDA Zones 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 3-4 Months
Having a long bloom period is just one of Echinacea’s many attributes. Coneflowers are extremely drought tolerant; attract birds and butterflies and the intense color ads punch to any garden. The tall stalks are self-supporting; unless they’ve received so much water, they become floppy. They require good drainage and full sun. Deadheading will prolong the bloom period. Although Echinacea is slow to spread, division is the best way to get the cultivar you want. The seed heads can be left on through the winter and will provide a treat for neighborhood birds.
GOOD CHOICES: Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus”, E.p. ‘Fragrant Angel’, E. “Art’s Pride’
GAILLARDIA (BLANKET FLOWER) USDA Zones 2 – 9 – Bloom Span: 4-5 Months
Daisies on caffeine. Gaillardia’s yellow petals around a burgundy center are impossible to ignore in a garden. All they ask is full sun and they will keep on blooming all summer. Too much shade and the stems begin to flop. In most cases, deadheading is not necessary for continual bloom, but it can make the plants look tidier. Gaillardia is another short-lived perennial and should be divided or seeded often.
GOOD CHOICES: Gaillardia x grandiflora, Gaillardia ‘Goblin’ (dwarf), G. ‘Burgundy’, G. ‘Monarch’
KNIPHOFIA (RED HOT POKER) USDA Zones: 5 – 9 – Bloom Span: 3+ Months
The spiky, bottle-brush flowers of Kniphofia are beacons for hummingbirds. Although they look like tough customers, Kniphofia actually requires a bit of winter protection in cooler zones. They are also a bit fussy about liking moist conditions in the summer, but well-drained soil for the winter months. Full sun is generally necessary for ample blooms. Kniphofia does not divide or transplant well, although you can usually get away with removing and replanting the young side shoots of the plants.
GOOD CHOICES: Any of the hybrids. Kniphofia ”Primrose Beauty’ is especially hardy.
LIATRIS (GAYFEATHER, BLAZING STAR) USDA Zones 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 4 Months
Liatris are easy to grow and texturally unusual. The thin, spiky leaves jut off the stems all the way to where the rosy-purple flower spikes begin. Unlike most spiky flowers, Liatris blooms from the top down. Liatris can handle just about any type of soil, but the richer the soil, the more likely they’ll need staking. They’ll grow in full sun or partial shade. Liatris is long lived and doesn’t often require division. They will self-seed, but generally don’t take over.
GOOD CHOICES: Liatris spicata (Spike Gayfeather) comes in white, pink and shades of purple
RUDBECKIA (BLACK-EYED SUSAN) USDA Zones: 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 3 Months
Rudbeckia are at home everywhere and many are native to various parts of North America. They prefer well-drained, somewhat lean soil and full sun. Deadheading will prolong bloom and cut Rudbeckia flowers will last a long time in water. With their flat landing pad petals, they are attractive to butterflies and the seeds will be eaten by the birds during the winter. Relatively long lived, Rudbeckias can be easily multiplied by division.
GOOD CHOICES: Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm”
SCABIOSA (PIN CUSHION FLOWER) USDA Zones 3 – 9 – Bloom Span: 3+ Months
Scabiosa is a unique looking plant with a low growing rosette of narrow leaves and a profusion of gangly stems topped by pincushion flowers. They are relatively easily grown in average soil and full sun. Deadheading is a must for long bloom and general appearance. Divide plants every 3-4 years. You can also root the secondary stems you will see coming from the base of the plants.
GOOD CHOICES: Scabiosa caucasica ‘Butterfly Blue’, S. c. ‘Pink Mist’
Question: Jimmie, first let me thank you for your generous time you gave me and my husband at Kroger last week! We took your advice and it worked! Now my next problem…I have a spot that is right outside our living area window near the front entry that is not to large but everyone sees it coming into our home or leaving our home. Not so long ago you wrote an article about focal points in small gardens. So that got me really interested in this spot. Can you please look at the picture I sent you and give me a couple of WOW options in your professional opinion? Thank you so much! – Catherine and Tim C. in Celina
Answer: Hello again Catherine! Thank you for the kind words and yes, I did receive your photo. You are right that spot needs a WOW plant!! However, I could not quite tell the sun exposure as it appeared to be a cloudy day Soooo….
For full sun consider:
1. Pom Pom Juniper
2. Tanyosho Pine
3. Loquat tree (Male no fruit)
For shade or filtered light consider:
1. Weeping Crimson Queen Japanese Maple
2. Coral Bark or Bloodgood Japanese Maple
4. Gold Dust Acuba
5. Purple Diamond Loropetalum Until next time…Happy Gardening!!
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.