Perennial Flower Garden Design

Make Your Own Perennial Flower Garden

By Nancy J. Ondra
March 9, 2019
Purple Coneflower

This perennial flower garden design will provide many years of enjoyment and, since perennials come back each year, there’s no replanting required! The key to a perennial flower garden is careful selection of plants, so we’ve given careful consideration to our plant list and plot plan.

Not only do perennial plants keep coming back year after year, they also may produce colorful blooms for two months or longer. Attractive leaves, showy seed heads, and fetching foliage add even more interest. For early color, add daffodils, crocuses, and other spring bulbs.

Yellow daffodils

This 5x10-foot rectangle suits a path or driveway border and requires well-drained soil and full sun. In longer beds, repeat the pattern.

Perennial Flower Garden Plan

Perennial Garden Plant List

  1. ‘Blue Ice’ bluestar (perennial): Dense mounds feature starry blue flower clusters in mid- or late spring. Slender, rich-green leaves turn bright yellow in fall. It is about 18 inches tall and grows in Zones 4 to 9. Six plants.
  2. Purple coneflower (perennial): Large, daisy-form, purple-pink flowers with prominent centers bloom through the summer atop 3- to 5-foot-tall stems. Also look for cultivars with white, orange, or yellow flowers. It grows in Zones 3 to 9. Six plants.
  3. ‘Miss Manners’ obedient plant (perennial): Sturdy, upright stems are topped with spikes of bright-white blooms from midsummer to early fall. Obedient plant can be a rampant spreader, but this cultivar is fairly well behaved. It is 18 to 24 inches tall and grows in Zones 3 to 9. Six plants.
  4. ‘Little Bunny’ fountain grass (perennial): Dense clumps of spiky foliage feature brushy, silver seed heads from late summer into winter. It is 12 to 18 inches in bloom and grows in Zones 5 to 9. Nine plants.
  5. Lady’s mantle (perennial): One-foot-tall mounds of elegantly pleated, velvety, scalloped-edge leaves boast frothy clusters of green-yellow flowers in early to midsummer. It is about 18 inches tall in bloom and grows in Zones 4 to 7. Three plants.
  6. ‘Zagreb’ coreopsis (perennial): Moderately spreading clumps of slender green leaves bear an abundance of bright-yellow, daisy-like flowers through summer. It is 12 to 18 inches tall in bloom and grows in Zones 4 to 9. Three plants.
  7. ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (perennial): Clumps of grassy foliage, 2 to 3 feet tall at maturity, feature 5- to 6-foot-tall stalks topped with plumes that are pinkish-gray in summer and tan in winter. It grows in Zones 5 to 9. Five plants.

For a garden that blooms from spring to fall, see our three-season flower garden design.


The 2009 All-Seasons Garden Guide


Reader Comments

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I have been wanting to start growing Coneflowers all around my property. However, everything I read says they need to go in the ground spring, early summer. However, all my local retail flower stores are just starting to sell them. (Late summer/early fall) Can I put them in the ground now? Why are hey just starting to sell them now? PS I live in East TN

Perennial garden in partial shade

have a partial shaded area

Perennials for shade

The Editors's picture

Hi Susan, While many perennials enjoy sun, there are certainly some great plants that prefer partial shade. Perennials that come to mind are: phlox, lungwort, hosta, astilbe, bleeding heart, heuchera.  At your garden center, stroll around and the perennials for shade are usually separated from the perennials for sun. Each plant will have a tag telling you their preferences. You can also browse online. For example, this flower company has collections for shade which may provide inspiration:

Garden Plan

I'd love to see a garden plan for wet in winter/dry in summer. I also have clay soil but that can be amended.

Winter/wet summer/dry

Me too! I have an L shaped front yard part of which gets sun all day. Rosemary is fast growing and hard to kill. I neglect it often but it thrives in hot/dry, tolerates rainy/cold and puts out beautiful purple flowers in fall and remains green year around. Lavender and sage are similar. Crepe myrtle works well in cold/rain/heat. A eucalyptus kept under control is a nice addition. That's my usual for the perennial hot and cold. The long part of the L gets partial sun, and foxglove, lupine are striking and return year after year. Roses love the heat and the variety is amazing. I have a bee bush I put in this year that takes partial sun/full sun. I'll see how this goes... I have replaced my over neglected rosemary and put in refreshed lavender and added two rose bushes. I couldn't find foxglove or lupine this time of year so am planting speedwell. Blac eyed Susan come around august, purple coneflower around late June and daisies early in spring. Because they self seed they need to be divided periodically but they add to the beds. I am putting in woolly thyme for border accents and we'll see how this goes. The long part of the L looks run down in the winter and I may put some rosemary in that area as well. Lots of reseeding crocuses pop up in spring but not a lot of color over the winter that can handle a lot of pooling rain (bane of my existence). Buckwheat is great for amending soil and flowers, bees like it but dig it in before it goes to seed then plant another crop of it and repeat. Snap peas flower and potatoes which can be a pleasant change. Summer squash is nice for big showy yellow flowers early and stay green until end of season. I'm still rotating and trying new stuff to spice up my cottage garden :) these are the usual but seem to work well with the weather. Oh also oregano stays green and greet to throw in if you don't want decorative grasses. And great with spaghetti :)

Perennial garden

Will all of these plants do well in zone 7?

emerald blue

how many do i need to buy of these for a 7 foot by 7 foot flower bed let me know thank you

How does this plan compare to

How does this plan compare to the 3 season flower bed plan? Aren't both perennials? I am trying to decide which one should I go with for the upcoming season. I guess it's too late to plant now

The plan on this page has

The Editors's picture

The plan on this page has suggestions for long-blooming perennials that will bloom for extended time during the growing season while the 3-season plan has plants for spring, summer, and fall blooms. You can plant perennials now. This will give them a chance to develop good root systems before the colder months.

I have a VERY small patio

I have a VERY small patio space 4'x6' and I love plants - how do I make the most of what I have ?

With such a small amount of

The Editors's picture

With such a small amount of space available, you will need to be very selective in which crops you grow. Choose plants which you love to eat, are expensive to buy, or which can be harvested over a long period to give you maximum value for your investment of space. It might also be worth trying out the intensive square foot gardening method - for more information, visit
Our Garden Planner software can help you to draw out your garden plan and shows how much space each individual plant needs - or you can use the dedicated Square Foot Gardening mode if you're using that technique, which enables you to add plants in square-foot blocks with the number of plants to be grown in that space indicated in the corner of the block. The software also provides recommended sowing, planting and harvesting times for your plants based on climate data for your location. You can even filter the plants shown in the selection to show only those that fit certain criteria - easy to grow, or suitable for growing in partial shade for instance.
To try out the Garden Planner for free, why not take out our 30 day free trial by going to, clicking on Start Garden Planner and then Create An Account.

Small patio

Hi- are you looking for flowers, vegetable or combination garden? Look at how much sun you get and heat/rain. Small step stools can give height, and angled latticework studded with small pots. Roses are perfect as are azaleas (azaleas-depending on weather, sun etc). In between consider climbing vines on a lattice. Allysium makes for nice edges around taller potted plants and pansies in baskets can be hung. My two cents. Also you can grow almost any veggie in containers. Mix and match!

Growing in a small patio

Any ideas for perennials???