Perennials may not have the instant gratification of colorful annuals, but they have something more. With basic good care, perennials come back year after year, and bloom their little hearts out.
I asked some of the veterans of Tagawa’s Perennials Department to list a few of their favorite long-blooming perennials, and their eyes lit up. Clearly, I’d hit a nerve… a good nerve. They were off and running with ideas.
I’ll jump in first with one of my own favorites, the Tennessee Coneflower shown above (and coming soon to Tagawa’s.) It’s from the Plant Select collection… plants that have been tested and judged to be Colorado tough. This is one rough and ready plant, producing big pink daisy like flowers all summer long.
Tennessee Coneflower is a low-maintenance plant that thrives in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. The leaves have a coarse texture that deer and rabbits don’t seem to like. One more reason to love this plant!
Roxann is one of those gardeners who has backstories about the plants she loves. For example, she planted her Jackmanii clematis 32 years ago, when her twins were just two years old!
Many consider Jackmanii the “granddaddy” of clematis… more popular and hardier than other varieties. Roxann says her Jackmanii blooms for two months, then offers intermittent blossoms after that. The flowers are stunning… big deep blue star-shaped blossoms on vines that can reach ten feet tall. Jackmanii is a purr-fect choice for gardeners who’ve never grown clematis before.
And the hits keep coming…
Joe Pye Weed is another of Roxann’s favorites. This is one big plant! Seven feet tall and wide! Roxann loves it… and so do the birds, bees and butterflies!
Roxann says her Joe Pye Weed blooms from late summer to frost. Once cold weather sets in, the plant’s largely upright structure lends winter interest to her garden.
Because of its mature size, Joe Pye Weed should be placed at the back of the garden to anchor other complimentary plants in front of it. Joe Pye Weed prefers full sun to part shade. And here’s something different: Joe Pye Weed tolerates slightly wet locations and will even forgive occasional periods of standing water.
One more enthusiastic nomination from Roxann…
Raspberry Wine Beebalm (a.k.a. Monarda) gets five stars from this veteran perennial gardener. Raspberry Wine lives up to its name with masses of fragrant purplish-pink flowers. A true honey bee and hummingbird magnet!
Raspberry Wine flowers best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It blooms from mid- to late-summer. It is rarely browsed by deer or rabbits.
Raspberry Wine grows quickly, reaching a mature size of 30″ tall and 32″ wide. It tolerates both dry and moist locations.
Next up: The Amazing Lina!
She may be from “down under,” but Lina has a thoroughly impressive knowledge of plants that shine in our Colorado climate. As a veteran of Tagawa’s Perennials Department, she has lots of long-blooming favorites. One of the first plants on her list is one of my favorites, too: Kannah Creek buckwheat.
Kannah Creek is one of the tried and true Plant Select offerings. Lina describes this very cold hardy plant as “stunning,” and so it is.
Kannah Creek is short, topping out at 16″ high and 24″ wide. Its magic comes in its coloring. It starts the summer with bright yellow flowers that age to orange later in the season. And there’s more! By winter, Kannah Creek has morphed into a vivid purple-red that lasts until spring.
Kannah Creek prefers sun but will tolerate some shade. It’s water needs are moderate, even xeric once it’s been in the ground for a couple of seasons. It needs well-drained soil without any amendments such as compost.
This plant starts out small, but delivers big! No wonder Lina loves it!
Also on Lina’s list: Soapwort
Max Frei Soapwort (a.k.a. saponaria) isn’t the most elegant sounding name for a plant, but Lina says she loves it as a sunny edging plant in her perennial beds.
Lina says this soapwort’s bright pink star-shaped flowers emerge in July and keep going for six weeks if the fading blossoms are removed to give the plant more energy to keep producing.
Max Frei soapwort does best in full sun to part shade. It prefers dry to average moisture and well-drained soil.
Our next perennial cheerleader: Linda!
I think one of Linda’s top priorities for any perennial is its ability to bloom and bloom and bloom. Get the picture? That’s why Allium Millenium is at or near the top of her list.
Who knew a member of the onion family could be so beautiful! Linda will tell you this ornamental onion is spectacular in every way. It puts on a profusion of long-blooming purple-pink flowers starting in mid-summer. The large pompoms make excellent cut flowers and can be used in dried arrangements.
Millenium is especially impressive planted in large groupings. With the flower stalks, Millenium stands about 20″ tall. It requires full sun and average to slightly moist soil. Plant these and the bees and butterflies will beat a path to your garden!
Also on Linda’s hit parade…
The eye-popping pink of Rose Campion. If you like hot colors in your garden, this is your plant!
Rose campion not only has beautiful fuchsia flowers with tiny white eyes, its fuzzy grey-green foliage is a winner, too.
Rose campion grows up to 18″ tall and 24″ wide. It definitely does best with regular deadheading… removing the spent blossoms and keeping the foliage trim and tidy. This is also a great plant for the butterflies.
Grow in nothing less than full sun and average to slightly moist soil.
Another of Linda’s favorites…
Blue mistflower looks a lot like the annual ageratum that so many of us know and love, but this plant is reliably hardy here, and Linda’s in love with it!
Who says Monarch butterflies favor only milkweed? Linda tells me this sweet visitor showed up last summer and stayed to sip nectar for two days before moving on.
It’s easy to see how Blue mistflower gets its name. The small, puffy clusters of blue-purple flowers sit on top of two-foot stems and bloom from mid-summer to fall.
Blue mistflower can spread vigorously, especially in moist conditions. Give it full sun to part shade and see if the butterflies don’t set up camp in your yard!
And Debra Ann has her list of favorites, too
When she’s not performing her duties as Tagawa’s Fairy Queen, my buddy Debra Ann is working in the Perennials Department and constantly on the lookout for plants that absolutely belong in her garden… like Rozanne Cranesbill.
Rozanne is a hardy geranium. Its rambling but well-behaved display of stunning blue and white flowers makes almost any garden look more vibrant and lush. The bloom runs all season, starting in late spring and lasting until fall approaches. It has a mounding growth habit and grows to about 18″ tall and 20″ wide.
Rozanne prefers full sun but tolerates part shade. Keep the soil moderately dry to moderately moist, but never soggy!
Also on Debra Ann’s list of long-bloomers….
Husker Red Beardtongue sounds a lot more rough and tumble than it looks… kinda like a beefy member of the Nebraska football team. In fact, this plant is sweet and delicate and only partly red.
Beardtongues (a.k.a. “penstemons”) make up a large and extremely varied and beautiful family of perennials. Husker Reds get their name from the rich burgundy stems and leaves that emerge in spring. The leaves turn a dark green but the stems hold their burgundy color. Combine that with the beautiful spikes of delicate white flowers and you have a winning and unusual display.
Give your Husker Red beardtongues full sun to part shade, average moisture and enjoy the show!
Last, but definitely not least…
Debra Ann (“D.A. to her friends) loves to have plants in her garden that move and sway. Whirling Butterflies gaura fills the bill purr-fectly!
Whirling Butterflies is a compact form of gaura, standing about two feet tall. Its airy upright spikes move with the slightest breeze and help bring a garden to life.
Aside from its ever-dancing flowers, D.A. says she loves this plant because the white blossoms, tinged with just a hint of pink, show up at night. She uses them as graceful “fillers” planted between other perennials. And they don’t require any deadheading… removal of spent blossoms. Gardeners love that!
Whirling butterflies prefer full sun, average to low moisture and very well-drained soil.
Tagawa’s perennial people are passionate gardeners!
If you hadn’t noticed, the lovely ladies in Tagawa’s Perennials Department jumped at the chance to nominate some of their all-time favorite long-blooming plants for this blog. I think their only regret is that they couldn’t nominate dozens more!
If weeks of beautiful blossoms appeal to you, come see these plant-crazy friends of mine. They’ll be oh so happy to help you create a season-long flower show in your garden!