need ideas on which perennials to plant - Knowledgebase Question

Dearborn Heights, Mi
Question by nanhylenski
May 16, 2010
I have a 12 ft long by 3 ft width area that I would like to plant flowering perennials that will bloom all summer, I would like an idea of which ones to purchase and assistance on which ones to plant in a row, should I also include hostas in this area, I don't have a green thumb so any suggestions would be appreciated, this is a full sun area and I'm looking for lots of color. Thank you Michigan


Image
Answer from NGA
May 16, 2010

0

Hostas prefer growing in the shade so take that one off the list for your sunny flower bed and find a shady spot for them. Most perennials flower for a specific amount of time (usually about 4 weeks) and in a specific season (spring, summer, fall). In order to have lots of color in the garden you'll want to plant a variety of perennials with overlapping bloom times. Or, you can choose the longest blooming perennials you can find. Some of my favorites include: Achillea (Yarrow) Bloom Span: 3+ Months; Achillea will grow almost anywhere, but it actually favors dry, lean soil. If given too much moisture or rich soil, the plants can become floppy. Deadhead spent flowers for repeat bloom. After the second bloom, rejuvenate the plant by cutting back to new growth.

Campanula (Bellflower) Bloom Span: 2+ Months; There are many species of Campanula or Bellflowers, all easy to grow and relatively long lived. They perform best in areas with cooler summers or in partial shade where the summers are more intense. Most Bellflowers will readily self sow. If they start to look tired and ragged after several blooms, shear or mow them down to a few inches and they will grow back fresher.
Centranthus (Red Valerian) Bloom Span: 3-4 Months; Centranthus prefers dry, lean soil, but it blooms longer in cooler climates. In intense heat it will bloom in spring and again as it feels up to it, throughout the summer. Centranthus rarely grows true from seed and is best propagated by cuttings. To be certain of what color you are getting, buy the plant while it is in flower.
Coreopsis (Tickseed) Bloom Span: 3+ Months; Coreopsis are undemanding plants, but short lived. Either allow them to self-seed or divide the plants every 2-3 years and replant the newer, outer sections. Flower buds form all along the stems, making deadheading a time consuming challenge. Once the initial buds have completed blooming, sheer the plants back by 1/3 to encourage new flower buds.
Corydalis lutea (Fumewort) Bloom Span: 4 Months ; Corydalis' ferny foliage and delicate flowers belie its fortitude. This is a plant that prefers partial shade and well drained soil and will find a home in cracks in rocks, on slopes in woodlands and along paths. Once established, Corydalis self sows wherever it can.
Dianthus (Pinks) Bloom Span: 2+ Months; While most Dianthus have a long natural period of bloom, many will rebloom with some deadheading. Several varieties are also evergreen and make nice edging plants. Dianthus does well in any well-drained soil, though it prefers a slight alkalinity.
Dicentra formosa & Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Heart) Bloom Span: 3+ Months
Unlike the common bleeding heart (D. spectabilis), cultivars of the fringed species will repeat bloom for most of the summer. D. formosa is a western native while D. eximia is able to handle the heat and humidity of the eastern U.S. The fringed bleeding hearts are smaller plants than D. spectabilis and the flower is not as pronounced a heart shape, but the gray-green ferny foliage and abundance of flowers make it a prize.

Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower) Bloom Span: 2-3 Months; Having a long bloom period is just on of Echinacea's many attributes. Coneflowers are extremely drought tolerant, attract birds and butterflies and the intense color adds punch to any garden. The tall stalks are self-supporting, unless they've received so much water they become floppy. They require good drainage and full sun. Deadheading will prolong the bloom period.

Gaillardia (Blanket Flower) Bloom Span: 3-4 Months; Gaillardia's yellow petals around a burgundy center are impossible to ignore in a garden. All they ask is full sun and they will keep on blooming all summer. Too much shade and the stems begin to flop. In most cases, deadheading is not necessary for continual bloom, but it can make the plants look tidier.

Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) Bloom Span: 3+ Months; The spiky, bottle-brush flowers of Kniphofia are beacons for hummingbirds. Although they look like tough customers, Kniphofia actually requires a bit of winter protection in cooler zones. They are also a bit fussy about liking moist conditions in the summer, but well-drained soil for the winter months. Full sun is generally necessary for ample blooms.

Liatris (Gayfeather, Blazing Star) Bloom Span: 3 Months; Liatris are easy to grow and texturally unusual. The thin, spiky leaves jut off the stems all the way to where the rosy-purple flower spikes begin. Unlike most spiky flowers, Liatris blooms from the top down. Liatris can handle just about any type of soil, but the richer the soil, the more likely they'll need staking. They'll grow in full sun or partial shade.
Nepeta (Catmint) Bloom Span: 2-3 Months; Most people think of Nepeta as catnip (Nepeta cataria), a somewhat weedy garden plant. But there are many excellent ornamental Nepetas that will bloom throughout the summer, if deadheaded. Most have some shade of blue-lavender flowers and gray foliage. They are very drought tolerant and make a nice substitute for lavender, in areas where lavender won't thrive.

Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) Bloom Span: 3 Months; Rudbeckia are at home everywhere and many are native to various parts of North America. They prefers well-drained, somewhat lean soil and full sun. Deadheading will prolong bloom and cut Rudbeckia flowers will last a long time in water. With their flat landing pad petals, they are attractive to butterflies and the seeds will be eaten by the birds during the winter. Relatively long lived, Rudbeckias can be easily multiplied by division.

I'd urge you to visit your local garden center and take notes on the plants that most appeal to you. The plant tags will indicate their preference to sun or shade and the ultimate mature size of the plant. Sketch out your dream garden and place as many plants as necessary to fill the bed. Once you've purchased your plants you can set the pots out into the garden and move them around until you're happy with their appearance.

Hope this information is helpful.

You must be signed in before you can post questions or answers. Click here to join!

« Return to the Garden Knowledgebase Homepage

Member Login:

Username:

Password:

[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by krobra and is called "Lantana Dew Drops"