Discover easy perennial flowers that are great for beginners, bringing beautiful blooms to your garden—year after year. This year, we’ve also added a few 2020 highlights. Now get out there and plant flowers to bring you color and calm this year!
The Perennial Debate
Perennials are those flowers that return reliably year after year—whereas annuals are those one-season wonders that add color and need to be replaced every spring.
An advantage of perennials is that they require minimum maintenance. After establishment, most perennials require minimum pesticides or pruning. They just need well-drained soil, amended with compost or organic matter.
However, there are literally thousands of varieties of perennials, and while some are indeed as easy as pie to grow, others require at least as much attention as annuals.
So, if an easy garden is what you seek, you should take care to choose the right perennials … and plant them in the right spots!
What’s a gardener to do? Read on! The following are among the easiest perennials of all.
Why These Perennials Are So Easy
The plants listed here are perfect perennials because they …
- do not need fussy care, such as pinching, staking, and deadheading (although some of these plants, like daylilies, can benefit from deadheading)
- are fairly resistant to pests and diseases, and may even be unappealing to deer (although a hungry deer will eat just about anything)
- have a long life span (more than 5 years)
- adapt to a wide range of conditions
- do not spread all over the garden via invasive rhizomes
- grow and bloom well even if you do not divide them
- are tough enough to hold their own against invasive neighbors
- will grow almost anywhere in North America (Zones 2 to 9)
Check out these easy tips for perennial garden care.
1. Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)
Black-eyed Susans have been a staple for so long that just about everyone grows them. Take note, though, that it is a late starter, flowering at the end of summer. ‘Early Bird Gold’ is a selection of the more common ‘Goldsturm’ that is physically identical to it but “day-length neutral”: It starts blooming early and doesn’t know when to stop, so it can bloom from late May until Christmas in some climates. (Northern gardeners can figure on a late June through October season.) Sturdy stems bear beautiful golden daisies with a black, conelike center. Read our Growing Guide for Black-Eyed Susans.
2020 spotlight: Discover Rudbecia ‘Smileyz’ ar hirts.com.
2. Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.)
Cousin of the black-eyed Susan, the native coneflower produces big pink, purple, or white daisylike blooms on robust stems with a prickly, green to orange center. There are now hybrid coneflowers in a wider range of colors, including yellow, orange, tomato red, and even green, some with double flowers. It blooms from midsummer to early fall. Read our Growing Guide for Coneflowers.
3. Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)
This flower is popular because it is are easy to manage and thrives in full sun but also can tolerate partial shade. Lots of choices here, from big flowers to small, from dwarfs to giants, from early bloomers to fall bloomers—all trumpet-shape and borne over attractive, arching, grasslike foliage. Some varieties, such as the ever popular ‘Stella de Oro’ (yellow flowers), bloom all summer! Colors include yellow, orange, pink, purplish red, and “white” (well, more like cream), often with a contrasting eye. Each flower lasts but a day (thus the name, “daylilies”), but stems can produce dozens of flowers … and there can be dozens of stems!
4. Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus)
This is a big, tough perennial with stems so sturdy that they have survived tornados unharmed. The giant leaves are fernlike, and the frothy white flowers are rather like astilbe blooms. It’s a bit slow to develop and thus may not reach its full size for 4 to 5 years, but goatsbeard can live for 100 years or more in the same spot. Expect blooms in early summer.
5. Hostas (Hosta spp.)
Ever popular, hostas are tough as nails as long as you remember two things: You must buy slug-resistant varieties (these usually have thick leaves), and hostas are beloved by deer. (Read our advice for getting rid of slugs and deer in the garden.) Hostas come in a variety of sizes and are grown mostly for their foliage—usually large leaves, with attractive veining in shades from dark green to chartreuse and blue, often with beautiful yellow or white variegation. The trumpet-shape flowers are white to purple and usually fairly insignificant; however, there are some large-flower, highly scented varieties. Hostas require full shade to partial shade and bloom early summer to fall. Read our Growing Guide for Hostas.
6. Peonies (Paeonia spp.)
Your great-great-grandmother probably grew peonies … and it’s highly likely that they’re still exactly where she planted them! Peonies are about the longest-lived perennials around. The deeply cut leaves are a glossy dark green that reddens in the fall, but their main attraction is the huge, showy, blowsy blooms pink, white, or red (and, more recently, yellow or peach). Flowers can be single, semidouble, or double, but take note: many of the double varieties require staking. Peonies bloom in mid- to late spring. Read our Growing Guide for Peonies.
7. Salvia (Salvia spp.)
Salvias (also known as sages) have gained their new fame because they flower for a long period of time and also grow fairly rapidly. There are also many salvias that will stay low enough to be used at the front edge of your flowerbeds. In addition to the colorful flowers and interesting foliage of salvias, one of the main benefits of growing sages are the hummingbirds and butterflies they attract. See our Growing Guide to Salvia.
2020 spotlight: Discover Salvia ‘Rockin Blue Suede Shoes’ ar romencegardens.com.
8. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Foxglove is a stunning tall flower with tubular blossoms that often looks best at the back of a garden; it’s also rabbit- and deer-resistant. Common foxglove is a biennial, which means they form a rosette and leaves in their first year, bloom in their second year, and then die. Foxglove reseed easily, so plant foxgloves two years in a row for flowering plants. Also, new perennial varieties of foxglove have been developed that flower in year one. See our Foxglove Growing Guide.
More Easy Perennials to Grow
Got more space to fill? None of the above plants caught your fancy? Okay, here are a few more …
9. Cushion spurge: Chartreuse flowers rise from mounds of green foliage that turns red in fall. Blooms in early spring.
10. Hens and chicks: Low rosettes of succulent leaves in green to silvery to red send up stalks of purplish red flowers. Blooms in midsummer.
11. Russian sage: This shrubby plant with sturdy white stems has silvery, highly aromatic leaves and a haze of lavender-blue flowers. Blooms from summer to fall. Read more about sage.
12. Showy stonecrop: One of the taller plants in the genus Sedum, these popular garden plants are extremely easy to grow. White to pink cauliflower blooms appear over succulent, blue-green leaves. Blooms in fall. Read more about sedum.
13. Astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii): Astillbe has a low growing habit that makes it work as a border plant or ground cover. The flowers are fluffy pink or white panicles above dense fern-like foliage. See our Astilbe Grow Guide.
14. Siberian iris: This is the easy iris—it produces abundant blooms in purple, lavender, pink, white, or yellow in attractive, grasslike foliage. Blooms from late spring to early summer. Read more about irises.
Which of these easy perennials is your favorite? Do you have any favorite perennial flowers which you would recommend to the Almanac community? Please let us know below!