What’s the key to creating a floral masterpiece? Is it the colors that go into it or the various textures used throughout? Is it grand displays of topiary trees or elegantly trained vines placed strategically to catch the light?
The answer is all of the above, or perhaps none depending on your tastes. However, if you’re a gardener looking to maximize the flower power, there’s one trait each and every plant in your garden should have--a long bloom period.
We’re all looking for a way to get the most from our garden but most of us don’t have 30 hours a week to spend on upkeep and meticulous bloom scheduling.
You could always go for the notoriously long-flowering annuals, but they won’t come back next year and over time, you’ll find yourself spending hours and hours up close and personally with the dirt planting them. Not to mention the expense of replacing year after year.
Using perennial flowers and shrubs is a much more sustainable way to garden. They’ll be back each year and often don’t require the relentless deadheading. However, perennials often bloom for only a couple of weeks each year.
This is why you should pick perennial flowers that bloom all season like Happy Returns Daylily, Denim ’n Lace Russian Sage and Chocolate Chip Ajuga. It’s less work for you and more eye candy from early spring to late fall.
Reasons to Include Long Blooming Perennials:
Often, these extended bloom times mean there’s a smorgasbord for local beneficial pollinators. Monarch butterflies will rush to PowWow Wild Berry Coneflower and bees and other butterflies will revel in Vision in Red Astilbe.
Yes, it can be intimidating but no, it’s really not so bad once you know the basics. Here’s what you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
It doesn’t matter how pretty the perennial you have your eye on is, if it’s not rated for your growing zone, it’ll only ever be an annual so make sure you pay attention to those numbers under the Plant Highlights on our product pages.
Not sure what growing zone you’re in? No problem, just enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box right above the map of the U.S. on product pages.
Some plants love being in the hot summer sun all day long while others would much rather stay in the shade. There are plenty who like a bit of both. It’s important to know your landscape so you can pick long-blooming perennials that’ll thrive in that amount of light.
Here’s a helpful hint:
Often, you’ll find plants like medium moisture with well-drained soil. This means not too wet and not too dry with soil that’ll hold water long enough for the roots to soak up what it needs, but not long enough that the plant is sitting in water.
If you live in a wetland, look for plants that enjoy a bit more water or are adaptable to many soil types. If you’re somewhere that experiences long periods of drought, Little Goldstar Black-Eyed Susan and Provence Lavender will work well as they are drought tolerant.
The last thing you’ll want to figure into your perennial browsing is mature height and spread. Simply put, this is about how tall and how wide the plant will be if left to its own devices year after year.
Usually, perennials will reach their mature height in one season because they’ll die back and start over year after year. Mature height and spread will determine how you use them in your garden. Low growers can be ground cover and taller flowering perennials would be great for mid to back-row planting.
A great planting location can make or break your success as a gardener.
Not only is this part of the prestigious group of perennials that flower all summer long, but it’s also a native! This means Purple coneflower is easy to take care of and will drive the pollinators to your garden in droves.
It’ll pair beautifully with perennial shrubs like butterfly bushes and blooms from late spring to early fall. It likes full sun and well-drained soil but doesn’t require much moisture once it’s established.
There’s just something about perennial daisies that bloom all summer and Becky Shasta is one of the best! It’s been improved from the original shasta daisy so that it has stronger stems that don’t need any staking throughout the season.
This summer-blooming perennial’s white flowers on top of lush green foliage make an eye-catching focal point in a perennial garden or a classic addition to your pollinator garden. No matter which garden Becky ends up in, you’ll soon see why it was named Perennial of the Year in 2003.
From early summer to fall, Peachies Pick Stokes will be the star of your garden all season long. Its dark green leaves are the perfect backdrop for the vibrantly hued purple-blue flowers. The frilly petals add texture and interest to your landscape, along with plenty of pollinators!
This perennial likes full sun with a bit of morning shade. You’ll also want to check and make sure the soil is well-drained as it doesn’t like staying wet, especially in dormancy. These add great color to summer beds, borders and containers.
These leaves of Jack Frost will have you feeling the cool brush of a winter wonderland against your cheek with its frosty look. The bright baby blue flowers bloom in early spring and continue for weeks. It’s a great way to usher in the beginning of the warmer seasons.
Winner of the 2021 Perennial Plant of the Year, this stunner goes well in perennial flower beds, borders, understory plantings, and even works as ground cover! Throw in the fact that it’s a shade-loving plant that doesn’t mind dry soil and you have a combination that’s hard to beat!
Sometimes called Purple Dragon Nettle, this Lamium variety will light up your shady areas whether it’s in bloom or not. From spring until fall, Purple dragon sends up showstopping clusters of deep magenta flowers.
When we say show-stopping, we mean it too! These blooms are larger than any other lamium variety! From foliage to flowers, bloom time to maintenance, this perennial is the whole package.
Oh, let us count the reasons we love Delta Dawn. First, there’s the unique foliage comprised of a dynamic red and lime-yellow duo that’s sure to draw the eye. Second, the prays of delicate, white bellflowers that appear in the spring!
The third would have to be the pollinators that are sure to stop by for a snack. And fourth is the ease with which you can keep Delta Dawn happy and healthy. This carefree shade-loving extended bloomer is the perfect addition to your garden!
Yes, picking the right plants gets you well on your way to a garden full of extended blooming perennials but there are still ways to give your garden the best chance at prolonged flowering times.
One of the best ways to keep the perennial shrubs and plants happy is by pruning regularly. This means grabbing your favorite pair of gardening shears and taking off the appropriate amount during the appropriate time.
If you aren’t quite sure when that is or what that means, be sure to check out each plant’s #ProPlantTips for care in their product description. There, our garden experts will lay out any special requirements and recommendations.
As blooms start to turn brown and fade, that’s another great time to prune them off. This allows the plant to start focusing on other things like more flowers or better root systems.
Another key to long bloom times is to divide your perennials once they reach their maximum size. Not only does this give you more plants to work with, but it’ll also keep the original plant growing vigorously.
There are plenty of things to keep in mind when it comes to growing a healthy garden. So many in fact that sometimes it’s hard to keep them all straight. That’s alright-we’ve got it all down for you to reference as needed!
Once you’ve picked your plants and understand their care instructions, it’s time to get down to designing. We have plenty of inspiration if that’s what you’re on the hunt for!
However, if you’d like to do it all on your own, we suggest starting on paper and drawing out your plans. This gives you leeway to switch things around and configure spaces without having to dig everything back up again!
Try adding in taller plants like Magnus Purple Coneflower or Little Spire Russian Sage towards the back of your displays. Then, fill in front with shorter options like Rozanne Geranium or Carmel Coral Bells.
For a more natural look, always plant in odd numbers. Planting in threes or fives is ideal for smaller spaces while planting in sevens and nines works well for larger areas.
Browse our Extended Bloom Perennials category for fantastic perennial plants that bloom all summer.
If you have any questions, reach out to your local extension office--they’ll always be up to date on the best options for your region. Or chat with our plant experts, they’re always happy to help find plants that’ll work in your garden.