Do you crave a profusion of flowers in the spring and summer? An investment in blooming perennials will bring those glorious blossoms to your garden. Depending on the variety, perennials bloom from spring through autumn and come back bigger and better each year, needing only occasional dividing. If you want to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, planting perennials is one of the best ways to do it.
Here are three of my favorite perennials that thrive in a sunny location without a lot of water or special care. All you need to do to keep these plants tidy and encourage flower production is remove spent flowers during the growing season.
Penstemon come in a variety of shapes, colors, and bloom times—so you’re sure to find one that work for your garden. Penstemon does best in a sunny location, tolerates imperfect soil, and is drought tolerant once it’s established. Some varieties bloom with multiple spires of flowers held upright on woody stems, while others have sweeping sprays of flowers on low, bushy plants. Plant Beardtongue in masses of a single color or mixed colors or repeat them throughout a perennial border for continuity. You can also use them to add color among broadleaf evergreens or spring-blooming plants that have finished blooming for the season. For example, low and bushy Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’ is covered with a multitude of iridescent blue flowers all summer. By contrast, tidy-looking Penstemon digitalis ‘Pretty Petticoats’ has upright stems with sturdy stalks of flowers that keep coming until frost.
Salvia is another large genus of flowering perennials and plants. Some varieties have masses of flowers on rounded, twiggy plants, while others are herbaceous with upright flower stalks originating from a basal clump. Salvia requires sun but it’s not too picky about soil and can thrive without a lot of water. Herbaceous varieties can be cut back mid-season if the flowering stems become leggy or fall over under the weight of rain. This is truly one of the easiest plants to grow. Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Bloom,’ with its vibrant deep blue flowers and unique black anthers, is a favorite of hummingbirds (it’s often one of the last plants in the garden still blooming when their food supply is becoming scarce). In the Pacific Northwest, salvia emerges in late spring when it starts to warm up. A sunny site is optimal, but this perennial will bloom even in part sun.
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
This drought-tolerant perennial thrives in soil that is less than perfect. Varieties like ‘Blue Jean Baby’ are about 36″ tall while the straight species can easily reach 48″ in height. Russian Sage looks great planted en masse or at the back of perennial border where it adds a tall, unifying element. Smaller forms like ‘Denim ‘n’ Lace’ mix well as a contrast to other drought-tolerant perennials. Plant these smaller varieties with Lavender, Salvia, and Lamb’s Ears (Stachys bizantina) or Daisy Bush (Brachyglottis greyi) to create a medley of soft shades of blue, purple, violet and silvery gray.
With spring here, revitalizing your garden is a great way to welcome the season!
If you’re looking for more ideas, please contact me for a design consultation to learn about landscape design or how to maximize the impact of plantings for any spot in your garden.