|What Perennials can I plant in a sunny location that will flower all summer long?|
|Here are some long blooming perennials to consider:
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. Yarrow tends to die out in the center of the plant and should be divided every 3 years or so.
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. The plants don't live longer than about 5 years and they resent being divided or relocated.
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. They don't tend to live very long and should be divided or seeded regularly.
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. Although Echinacea is slow to spread, division is the best way to get the cultivar you want. The seed heads can be left on through the winter and will provide a treat for neighborhood birds.
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 mush 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. Gaillardia is another short-lived perennial and should be divided or seeded often.
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. Kniphofia does not divide or transplant well, although you can usually get away with removing and replanting the young side shoots of the plants.
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. Liatris is long lived and doesn't often require division.
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.
Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower) Bloom Span: 3+ Months; Scabiosa is a unique looking plants with a low growing rosette of narrow leaves and a profusion of gangly stems topped by pincushion flowers. They are relatively easily grown in average soil and full sun. Deadheading is a must for long bloom and general appearance. Divide plants every 3-4 years.