The Q&A Archives: hardy perenials

Question: my dear friends that live in Michigan (zip 48640 ) are looking for hardy perennials that will get through the winter, something to give them colour spring and summer. I live in the UK and would like to help them out with a list of plants and would be very grateful if you could help.
from over the pond.....gilly

Answer: What a thoughtful friend you are! These are my picks for the best long blooming perennials for Michigan gardens.
Coreopsis "Moonbeam," "Zagreb," "Early Sunrise". Coreopsis gives you huge bang for your buck in the garden. They are prolific bloomers that need little more than regular deadheading to be happy. Place them in full sun and average soil. In fact, they don't like soil that is too fertile, as they will become floppy over time. Coreopsis should be divided every three years or so to keep them vigorous.

Daylily (Hemerocallis) "Stella D'Oro," "Pardon Me," and any variety with "Returns" in the name. Certain varieties of daylily are longer bloomers than others. The common orange daylily that you see everywhere, while beautiful, is not the best choice if you want continuous color. Choose one of the above varieties, and give it average soil in a location with full sun to part shade. Remove the spent flowers and stalks to keep the plant looking tidy.

Lavender (Lavandula) "Hidcote," "Munstead," "Grosso". Put these beauties in full sun, in soil that stays relatively dry. After they bloom, cut the flower stalks off (save them, either for potpourri, sachets, or dried arrangements). The blooms last a long time. If necessary, you can prune lavender in early spring, just as new growth starts. Just be sure not to cut into old, woody stems because new growth (and blooms) don't grow from old wood.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) "Goldsturm," "Goldilocks," "Indian Summer".
Rudbeckia are everything a plant should be: cheerful, drought-tolerant, and care free. Besides all that, if you leave the seed heads on after the flowers fade, you will have winter interest as well. Plant Rudbeckia in full sun.

Russian Sage (Perovskia) "Little Spire," "Blue Spire," "Longin". Russian Sage sports tall spikes of delicate, lavender-blue flowers above lacy, grayish-green foliage. Russian Sage is fragrant. Plant them in full sun in fairly dry soil.

Coneflower (Echinacea) Echinacea "Magnus""Magnus," "White Swan," "Big Sky Sunrise".
The best way to get prolonged bloom in your Echinacea is to remove the spent blooms. Smaller flowers will follow. I usually deadhead mine once, and then I leave the remaining flowers and seed heads all winter for seasonal interest as well as food for the birds.

Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa) "Butterfly Blue," "Pink Mist," "Deepwaters". These are wonderful not only for their long bloom period, but also for the fact that butterflies love them. Scabiosa gets up to two feet tall and wide. The plant consists of a mound of dark green, lacy foliage with tall strong stems, which hold up blooms in pink, white, purple, or blue. Plant them in full sun to part shade and well-drained soil. Keep them deadheaded to prolong bloom. As an added bonus, the foliage is evergreen.

Hope these suggestions are helpful.

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