13 Beautiful Perennials for Pacific Northwest Gardens

Perennials surprise each spring as they pop out of the soil. Plant a perennial today and you’ll have flowers for years! Discover 13 of the best flowering perennials for your landscape with this list from Pacific Northwest gardener Jerad Bryant.

Close-up of flowering Cyclamen graecum plant - one of the popular pacific northwest perennials. Cyclamen graecum displays a unique and enchanting appearance. Slender stems rise above the leaves, bearing delicate flowers in shades of pink, ranging from pale to deep hues, with a distinct darker marking at the base of each petal.

Contents

I love perennials. What’s not to love about them? They sleep all winter long below the soil and are low-maintenance during dormancy. When they sprout they explode out of the ground with fervor, and then they grow plenty of flowers to admire and smell. 

Perennials are plants that disappear for half the year. Some grow above the soil when it is warm, and then below the soil while it is cool. Others grow during the winter and are dormant during the summertime. Their unique life cycle allows them to thrive in conditions that other plants would struggle in. 

Because perennials disappear for months, they are incredibly hardy. They pop up year after year without fail after becoming established. Perennial plants survive extreme frost and heat by going underground when conditions extend outside of their preferred range.

The plants on this list inhabit a wide range of conditions, from full sun to full shade. Look to the care guides of each plant to determine which perennials will survive and thrive in your Pacific Northwest garden

Western Bleeding Heart

Close-up of a young Dicentra formosa plant in a sunny garden. Dicentra formosa, commonly known as Pacific bleeding heart, is a herbaceous perennial prized for its delicate and graceful appearance. It features finely divided, fern-like foliage emerging from arching stems, creating a cascading effect.
This graceful native blooms abundantly with charming heart-shaped flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Dicentra formosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-2′ feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9 

This graceful Pacific Northwest native stuns onlookers each spring. Its dainty foliage and pendent heart-shaped flowers sprout from the soil when temperatures warm and the ground thaws. A slow, rhizomatous spreader, this plant covers shady areas with ease, and it reseeds readily.

The heart flowers range from bubblegum-pink to rose color, and they open in rows on arching stems. ‘Zestful’ is an ever-blooming variety with rose-red blooms. 

Grow Dicentra from seeds, rhizomes, or transplants. Sow seed in early spring after a cold stratification period of two to three months. Transplant mature plants in spring as well. For rhizome propagation, dig up a chunk of the bulbous roots growing in the ground during fall or winter. Plant them in a shady, moist location. 

Violet Teacup Flower

Bottom view, close-up of a flowering Jovellana violacea plant, against a background of blue sky and trees. Jovellana violacea is a charming evergreen shrub. It produces clusters of tubular, violet-purple flowers with distinct yellow markings inside.
Get low to admire these tiny bell-shaped wonders!
botanical-name botanical name Jovellana violacea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-10 

You’ll have to get low to the ground to truly admire this perennial beauty! Known as Jovellana violacea, the violet teacup flower grows tiny bell-shaped flowers with unique markings and colorations. In its native range of Chile, it can grow to five feet tall, but in the Pacific Northwest, it reaches heights of three feet. 

This herbaceous perennial species behaves like hardy fuchsias. Winter cold and freeze kill the aboveground stems. Do not worry, though, as they sprout back up in spring. Then, after a period of growth in early summer, the yellow-spotted violet flowers grow. 

Grow this plant easily from seed indoors. Plant seeds in pots in early spring and lightly cover them with soil. They need light to germinate, so keep the top layer thin. Water and keep the soil moist, and after a few weeks, your violet teacup flower seeds should germinate. Plant them in a location with dappled shade in the afternoon and fertile soil.

Hellebore

Close-up shot of a flowering Helleborus 'Sun Flare' plant in a sunny garden against a blurred background. Its evergreen foliage forms a lush mound of deeply lobed, dark green leaves. It produces large, outward-facing flowers in shades of buttery yellow and soft apricot, each bloom adorned with intricate maroon veining. These nodding blossoms, held above the foliage on sturdy stems.
Winter jewels for PNW gardens, a perennial treasure indeed!
botanical-name botanical name Helleborus sp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

A winter flowering classic in Pacific Northwest gardens, hellebores are a jewel of all perennials. I’m a little partial to them as I live near two of the most famous hellebore breeders worldwide. Their Winter Jewels® series has variations of black, yellow, red, and cream flowers, and single and double-layered cultivars of each color. 

Hellebores are not native to the Pacific Northwest despite their willingness to grow here, with species naturally growing from Greece to Japan. They perform spectacularly in woodland and shaded gardens from the coast eastward to the rocky mountains. Species naturally hybridize with each other and create baby plants from seed with new flowering patterns and growth habits. 

To grow a specific variety of hellebores, choose a cultivar at a nursery near you. The flowers bloom in late winter, so check nurseries for cultivars in winter to early spring. Plant a hellebore in the shade with regular water in its first year, and during the second year, it will be drought tolerant. 

Cyclamen

Close-up of a blooming Cyclamen hederifolium against a blurred garden background. It features slender stems towering above the foliage and bearing nodding, pink flowers with reflexed petals, each marked with a delicate pattern of darker shades near the base.
A wide variety of cyclamens, spreading beauty across gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Cyclamen sp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 8 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-11

With multiple species thriving in warm and cool zones, cyclamens are wide-ranging perennials that hail from Europe and Asia. These cute little spreading plants grow from tubers, and they spread throughout the yard year by year. 

Most cyclamens sold at nurseries are Cyclamen persica and will thrive outdoors in zones nine through eleven. Other species like C. hederifolium and C. coum are easier to grow in colder gardens that receive frost. Varieties have a range of flower colors like white, pink, and purple. Their foliage also has a wide range of variegated, deep green, and silver forms. 

Grow cyclamens from seeds, tubers, or potted plants. Plant tubers in summer when dormant, and plant potted cyclamens whenever they are available at nurseries. Cyclamens grow readily from seed and they self-sow, so plant them in a setting like a woodland garden where they can spread on their own. Sow seeds in pots on the surface of the soil and keep them moist until they sprout. 

Candytuft

Close-up of flowering Iberis sempervirens plants in a garden. beris sempervirens, commonly known as evergreen candytuft, is a charming perennial prized for its profusion of delicate white flowers. Its narrow, lance-shaped leaves form dense, compact mats of dark green foliage. It produces clusters of small, pure white flowers atop wiry stems.
A fragrant, snow-white carpet adorning Pacific Northwest gardens!
botanical-name botanical name Iberis sempervirens
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Long favored in Pacific Northwest gardens, candytuft is a highly aromatic and incredibly showy perennial from Europe. The flowers grow in little clusters and open at the edges first before the ones in the center. Plants are low maintenance and spread to a few feet wide, creating blankets of pure white blossoms.

‘Purity’ is a showy compact variety with slight pink in its blossoms. ‘Snowflake’ grows large clusters of flowers and enlarged leaves on short stems. For a fall twice blooming variety in fall and spring, look for ‘Autumn Snow’ or ‘Autumnale.’

Candytuft prefers well-drained soil and regular water during the growing season. After a year, they become established and tolerate short periods of drought. Plant transplants in fall in mild winter areas and in early spring where gardens experience frost.

Hosta

Close-up of a young sprouted hosta in the garden. Wide Brim Hosta has a strong, short stem with a couple of curled young leaves. Its large, heart-shaped leaves feature broad, irregular margins of creamy yellow that contrast vividly against the deep green centers adorned with thin vertical yellow stripes.
Lush foliage beautifies shady spots year after year.
botanical-name botanical name Hosta sp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Adored for their strappy, varied foliage, hostas perform well year after year in shady gardens. They extend out of the ground in early spring, and their shoots develop into multiple heart-shaped leaves that overlap each other. 

There is a huge variation of hosta varieties available. Small-leaved and compact ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ grows luxuriously blue and stays small. For a giant type with huge golden leaves, find ‘Sum and Substance.’ Other cultivars have blue, green, or yellow leaves, and some have variegation with multiple colors. 

Plant hostas in fall or spring. Plants go completely dormant in winter and are low maintenance when they do grow—situate hostas in a shady spot with nutrient-rich soil or compost. Divide mature plants late during the dormant season by cutting off a chunk of the hosta and planting it elsewhere. 

Hardy Impatiens

Close-up of Impatiens omeiana in a garden with soil mulched with dry leaves. Its striking foliage consists of large, heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges and prominent veins, showing shades of deep green tinged with purple undersides.
Year-round beauty in the shade, perfect for any garden!
botanical-name botanical name Impatiens omeiana
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6-9

Typically you think of impatiens as annuals, but perennial impatiens do exist! A garden favorite with multiple strains, Impatiens omeiana sneaks out of the ground in early spring and puts on a show all year until winter. It creeps and sprouts multiple stems with handsome foliage extending in a rosette around them. 

A worthy cultivar for many gardens is ‘Silver Pink.’ This type grows well in my garden under the shade of a cherry tree and camellia. Slowly it creeps into new spaces underground and fills in empty spaces. 

To grow hardy impatiens, plant seeds or buy mature plants at your local nursery. Plant seeds in 5” pots and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water them well under lights, and in a few weeks baby impatiens should sprout! Plant them in a shady locale in your yard.

Fringe Cups 

Close-up of a Tellima grandiflora plant, commonly known as fringecup, in a garden. Its basal rosettes of heart-shaped, toothed leaves form dense mats of lush greenery.
A woodland gem, thriving in moist, shady garden corners.
botanical-name botanical name Tellima grandiflora
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

A tough native with delicate foliage, fringe cups are plants that shine in woodland settings. They closely resemble other species from the family Saxifragaceae, like Tiarella and Heuchera, but belong to the genus Tellima. They outshine the other two types with their simplicity and grace. 

Fringe cups prefer conditions that are similar to ferns. Moist, shady, and packed with other plants, they thrive in gardens where other plants struggle. In spring, flower stalks shoot up with urn-shaped green flowers and tiny white petals. En masse, they make a gorgeous planting and work well with other shade-loving perennials. 

Plant fringe cups from fall through spring, planting later in the spring in cold-winter zones. This plant readily reseeds itself, and you can easily sow seed yourself. Simply scatter Tellima seeds in fall or spring in a shady, wet area. They should germinate after a few days. 

Bee Balm

Close-up of a Monarda didyma flower against a blurred green background. It produces showy clusters of tubular flowers in shades of scarlet red, each bloom surrounded by colorful bracts.
A vibrant favorite, beloved by wildlife and humans alike.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

A true beauty, bee balm delights growers each year with gorgeous blooms that attract bees, hummingbirds, and pollinators. Not only is it beneficial for wildlife, but it is beneficial for humans too! This eastern North American native plant makes a delicious tea from both its flowers and leaves. 

This perennial’s scientific name is Monarda didyma, and tons of cultivars come from this native species. For deep red and scarlet blooms on tall stalks, try ‘Jacob Kline.’ If you prefer light pink blossoms, try ‘Croftway Pink’ or ‘Granite Pink.’ For moist gardens, a newer violet variety that is mildew resistant is ‘Violet Queen.’

Plant Monarda from seed, rooted cuttings, or transplants. Seeds readily sprout in spring after the last frost date in your area. The easiest way to propagate is to take cuttings off of a mature plant and let them sit in a cup of water for a few weeks with light. After they root, plant them directly in the garden with full sun and moist soil. 

False Sea Holly

Close-up of a young non-flowering Eryngium planum 'Jade Frost' plant in a flowerbed. Its basal rosette of spiky, silvery-blue leaves is adorned with striking creamy white margins, creating a frosty effect.
A coastal gem with striking blue blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Eryngium planum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

From coastal rocky regions hails the false sea holly, a drought-tolerant flowering perennial. There are lots of other plants in the Eryngium genus that have similar blooms and foliage, but false sea holly is one of the best for Pacific Northwest gardens. It grows 4-inch long leaves and big bursts of bright blue blooms. They have light blue bracts that make a fine architectural statement in your landscape. 

Varieties with variegated foliage and big blooms are available at nurseries. ‘Steel Blue’ sprouts deep green leaves and bright blue blooms. ‘Jade Frost’ has pink, green, and white variegated leaves that change color with cool weather. 

Eryngium species rapidly reseed in favorable conditions, and they are also easy to grow from seed. Surface sow seeds in pots and mist the tops to wet the soil. False sea holly seeds require light to germinate and do not need soil on top of them. To plant a specific variety in your garden, look to your local nursery in the early spring for unique cultivars. 

Saxifrage

Close-up of Saxifraga x arendsii 'Scenic White' flowering plant in the garden. This perennial forms dense mounds of glossy, deep green, scalloped leaves, creating a lush carpet-like effect. Slender stems rise above the foliage, bearing clusters of delicate, star-shaped white flowers with yellow centers.
Rock garden treasures, saxifrages thrive in sunny, rocky locales.
botanical-name botanical name Saxifraga sp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4-48 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

A gorgeous rock garden genus with many hybrids available, Saxifraga contains specimens native to the U.S. and Europe. Most are Full sun-loving plants that excel in areas with rocky soil, crevices, and moderate water. They form mats of green succulent-type foliage and bloom profusely in summer before going dormant.

Every saxifrage has slightly different care techniques; some are more demanding than others. Some Pacific Northwest native species to start with are Saxifraga oppositifolia, S. tolmiei, and S. mertensiana. They are native to high-elevation areas where water and Full sun are available, in crevices and rocks near streams. A fun non-native is Saxifraga x arendsii ‘Scenic White’ with finely divided leaves and bright white flowers.

These perennials often go dormant during the summer when water is low and temperatures soar. Plant saxifrage plants with good drainage, lots of sunlight, and regular water during the growing season. Different species prefer different conditions, so be sure to read the label of the type you have for the best care instructions. 

Purple Coneflower

Close-up of an Echinacea purpurea flower against a background of green foliage. Its sturdy, upright stems rises from clumps of coarse, dark green foliage. It produces a large, daisy-like flower with a prominent, spiky, coppery-orange center surrounded by vivid pink to purple petals.
Prairie migrants, coneflowers dazzle with vibrant, bee-attracting blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea purpurea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This Midwest prairie native has found a new home in the Pacific Northwest. Although coneflower is not from here, it performs spectacularly in the summer, and it draws lots of bees and pollinators into gardens. Big spiky cones extend out of foliage clumps that resemble black-eyed Susan leaves. Breeders have created funky varieties with green, yellow, white, purple, and red blooms. 

A subtle surprise is Echinacea ‘Green Twister’ with green and pink tinted flower petals. White blooming variety ‘White Swan’ looks spectacular in mass plantings. A fun variety is ‘Magnus’ with huge 7-inch wide blooms. All coneflowers create seeds that finches love to eat, so be sure to keep faded blooms on plants and they’ll develop into seeds. 

Plant Echinacea from seeds or transplants. Sow seeds in early spring. Keep the soil well-watered, and they should sprout in a few days. Mature plants are also dividable. Dig up a mature plant in the early spring and cut it into pieces, making sure each chunk has a bud and roots. Plant new chunks in full sun and keep them moist until they establish themselves. 

YouTube video

Purple Rock Cress

Close-up of a flowering Aubrieta deltoidea plant in a sunny garden. This low-growing perennial forms dense mats of small, evergreen leaves with scalloped edges, creating a lush carpet of foliage. It bursts into a profusion of vibrant purple flowers, each with four petals.
Colorful and spreading, rock cress thrives in rocky gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Aubrieta deltoidea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 4-9 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-7

Multiple plants go by the common name rock cress. Purple rock cress is Aubrieta deltoidea and it spreads to fill whatever space it resides in, forming a gorgeous mat of foliage and thin purple flowers. Perfect for rock gardens alongside saxifrage perennials, this ground cover also grows well inside chinks in walls. 

The species type is a fine specimen plant, although hybrids and varieties do exist for the adventurous gardener. Try ‘Rokey’s Purple’ for dark purple flowers and ‘Novalis Blue’ for blueish-tinted blooms.

Purple rock cress appreciates good drainage, moderate water, and gritty soil. Grow plants from seeds or cuttings. Plant seeds in early spring and keep the soil moist until they sprout. Take cuttings off of a healthy plant during summer, and root them in water or soil. 

Final Thoughts

Perennials outperform other garden plants with their annual eagerness. They slowly spread year by year on their own, and create fabulous landscape arrangements with low maintenance. Work less and enjoy more flowers by planting perennials in your garden this season.

From unique spreaders like hardy impatiens to tough reliables like hellebores, perennials function in many different conditions. After a few years of growth they’ll grow into adult plants you can split them up and give them to your friends. Plant a Pacific Northwest perennial today and enjoy bountiful ornamental beauty for decades to come! 

SHARE THIS POST
easy native plants. Close-up of a blooming Echinacea in a sunny garden. A small beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata, sits on a flower. The coneflower flower consists of a cone-shaped copper-colored center surrounded by pink-purple petals.

Ornamental Gardens

15 Easy to Grow Native Plants

Do you want native plants in your garden but fear long lists of growing requirements? Fear not! Many native plants adapt to your local ecosystem and require less care than non-native plants. Gardener Jerad Bryant selects 15 natives for their easy care requirements, their wide range of growth, and their willingness to adapt to new surroundings.

close up of a plant that features large, ovate to lance-shaped leaves that are often smooth and green, with prominent veins. There are elongated, drooping clusters of purple berries growing on bright pink stems.

Gardening Tips

28 Invasive Plants to Avoid in the Pacific Northwest

Do you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to grow a healthy landscape without any invasive species? Invasive plants can take over your garden, invade nearby natural areas, and compete with native species. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares 28 invasive plants you should not introduce into your yard or garden.

Close up on a large cluster of deep pink blooms with white centers on a red-flowering currant plant.

Ornamental Gardens

31 Recommended Native Plants for the Northwest

Are you gardening in the northwestern United States and wondering which native plants you can grow in your yard? A diverse assortment of beautiful and interesting plants are native to your region and make excellent additions to your garden. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen introduces 31 wonderful native plants for Northwestern gardens.

A dedicated farmer arranges the just-picked green treasures, such as broccoli, parsley, Chinese cabbage, sweet potatoes, and carrots, neatly into a weathered wooden crate. The arrangement highlights the wholesome goodness of the harvest.

Vegetables

27 Unusual and Rare Vegetables to Grow This Season

If you want to spice up your culinary adventures or break the routine of a regular crop rotation, these unique and unconventional veggies will satisfy your craving for novelty. Former organic farmer Logan Hailey will guide you through 27 of the strangest vegetables from all over the world!

lavender varieties

Herbs

Lavender Varieties: 31 Different Types of Lavender Cultivars

Thinking of planting some lavender this season but aren't sure which type to plant? There are many different types of lavender varieties, so picking the right cultivar for your hardiness zone is important! In this article, organic gardening expert Logan Hailey (who has worked on a lavender farm) examines 31 different types of lavender for your garden!