The Q&A Archives: Which plants should we use?

Question: Hi! My husband had a great idea. He'd like to plant a perennial garden so the blooms make a US flag - red, white, and blue. Which perennials would you recommend? We'd prefer not to use annuals and we live in upstate New York. Thanks!

Answer: Perennials would be more of a challenge than annuals in your New York garden. With that said, I'll offer a few suggestions, but I am sure you can come up with your own eye-appealing combinations.


My new favorite is Coreopsis 'Limerock Ruby' . The beautiful red petals with yellow centers make this long-blooming daisy a delight. The green feathery foliage contributes to the delicacy of the overall plant. Just plant in sun and average soil and you are in business. For a great ground cover or hanging basket plant try Fragaria 'Red Ruby' , which flowers in late spring until frost and offers up the occasional edible fruit. And then there are the ever-popular Daylilies , one of the toughest, easy-care perennials around. Try Hemerocallis 'Lady Scarlet' with its large 6-inch blooms of bright scarlet red set off by yellow-green throats.


Dianthus 'Artic Star' is a beautiful double white flower superimposed on leaves of blue-green. For summer interest, add Physostegia virginiana 'Miss Manners' , the Obedient Plant, a clump former with striking tall spikes. It is an asset to the late summer season. Shasta Daisies are wonderful for summer, too. Leucanthemum superbum 'Snowcap' , a beautiful white daisy with yellow centers, and 'Summer Snowball', with its double white flowers, bloom from early to late summer. All they require is good drainage and average garden soil. For a grand finale in fall, try some beautiful white Chrysanthemums (Garden Mums), which comes in many different shapes and sizes. There are so many wonderful cultivars to choose from. 'Stephanie', a snow-white daisy, blooms in early fall; 'Allison', a white decorative, blooms in mid-fall; and 'Corrine', a novel spoon-tipped daisy, blooms in late fall.

...& BLUE!

Everyone's favorite garden color! Try Lavandula 'Blue Cushion' which has a spectacular dwarf cushion plant habit and fragrant, deep blue flowers from early to late summer. Do not stop there... try Salvia 'May Night' , featuring deep indigo-blue flowers or 'Blue Hill', a true light blue. These easy-care, full-sun perennials give you spectacular late spring to early summer bloom and, if deadheaded, repeat bloom again in the fall. For another blue you could try Campanula poscharskyana 'Blue Waterfall' , the Serbian Bellflower. The deep blue, bell-shaped flowers with a dainty white center absolutely cover the plant. The name 'Blue Waterfall' aptly describes how the flowers flow so freely from the center of the plant. This June bloomer flowers profusely for several weeks and can flower sporadically into the fall. If you want a blue that is better than the Energizer Bunny, try Geranium 'Rozanne' . This hardy Crane's Bill has large violet-blue flowers and produces copious blooms from June to October. It is free flowering and perfect for hanging baskets or as a ground cover. For another ground cover in blue, try Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Leadwort) . This is the plant that really gets patriotic in fall. The leaves turn a reddish bronze and the flowers are a gentian blue, which lasts from late summer into fall.

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