27 Flowering Perennials That Will Bloom This Season

Would you like to add more perennial plants to your garden? Perennials come back year after year, beautifying your garden while saving you time and effort. In this article, we’ll look at 27 perennials you can plant that will flower this season!

Blooming perennial with white flower petals in garden

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While I love the long summer bloom period of many annuals, I’ve always felt they were a bit of a waste. In my garden, I plan around perennial foundation plantings that I can depend on to come back every year, only accenting with a few annuals in containers.

Fortunately for me (and you!), many perennials are easy to grow from seed and will reliably come back each spring. Depending on your climate, these varieties can be direct-sown outdoors or started inside to get a jump on the season.

If you’d like more plants for less investment of time and money, consider adding more seed-grown perennials to your garden. These plants will flower in their first season, providing you with nearly instant gratification. Best of all, they’ll pop right back up next year! Let’s dig in.

Dianthus ‘Sweetness’

Close-up of flowering plants Dianthus plumarius in the garden. The plant has clusters of many small single flowers in various colors including shades of pink and white. The flowers are round in shape, have a fringed or serrated edge, which gives them a characteristic and decorative appearance. The leaves are narrow and elongated, resembling blades of grass, gray-green in color and form compact tufts or clusters.
This Dianthus ‘Sweetness’ is a beautiful, drought-tolerant ground cover with frilled pink and white blooms.
BOTANICAL NAMEDianthus plumerius
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun-Part Shade
HEIGHT4-6 inches tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-10

This dwarf dianthus makes a beautiful ground cover. It’s an excellent drought-tolerant option for xeriscaping and fills the summer garden with a blanket of frilled pink and white blooms. The flowers have an interesting and varied look while staying in the same color family, resulting in an ombre effect.

‘Sweetness’ is a Fleuroselect award-winning variety for its quick flowering, yummy clove scent, and hardiness in the garden. They reseed readily, giving you years of blooms.

Sow directly in spring (they can handle a bit of frost if it’s still cold in your area) for blooms from midsummer through fall. For a ground cover, sow heavily, placing each seed a few inches apart. You can thin them out later if needed. Cover with a thin layer of soil and keep moist until mature. Seeds will germinate in about 10 days when temps reach 65℉.

Jacob’s Ladder

Close-up of flowering plants Polemonium caeruleum in the garden, against a blurred background of green foliage. The plant has slender, upright stems bearing clusters of delicate purple bell-shaped flowers with prominent long stamens with orange anthers. The leaves are pinnately compound, consisting of several leaflets located along the stem.
Jacob’s Ladder is an easy-to-grow perennial with blue-violet bell-shaped flowers.
BOTANICAL NAMEPolemonium caeruleum
SUN REQUIREMENTSPartial to Full Shade
HEIGHT1-2 feet
HARDINESS ZONES4-9

This woodland beauty is one of my absolute favorites in the garden. It’s easy to grow from seed and will begin producing flowers in most climates by mid-summer when sown early.

Named for the pinnate leaves that look like the rungs of a ladder, the foliage has a pretty fern-like appearance. The flowers are typically deep blue to violet (though you can find some yellow varieties), nodding, and bell-shaped.

Jacob’s Ladder is a long-lived perennial that can be divided every few years to add more to the garden. You’ll love its fragrance. Mine smells a bit like grape bubblegum!

This plant is especially handy for difficult shady areas and under trees. In my yard, it’s thriving despite the dry shade below a large willow. To grow from seed, sow directly in the ground after last frost. Cover lightly with soil and keep moist. Germination takes 3-4 weeks.

Chinese Lantern

Close-up of a Physalis alkekengi plant in a garden. The plant has alternate, ovate green leaves with serrated edges. The plant has a characteristic lantern-like papery husk known as the calyx that surrounds its fruit. This calyx is bright orange.
Chinese Lantern is an exotic perennial with orange-red husked pods resembling lanterns.
BOTANICAL NAMEPhysalis alkekengi
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull to partial sun
HEIGHT1-2 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-9

Chinese Lantern is a hardy perennial with exotic appeal. It looks a bit like a tomatillo but with striking orange-red husked pods (calyxes) dangling from the greenery like little lanterns. They can be dried for fun fall decor and used in arrangements. Though it produces small berries, the Chinese Lantern is strictly ornamental and not safe to eat for people or pets.

Drought-tolerant after its first year, Chinese Lantern is easy to grow from seed. Adult plants spread via rhizomes, so plant it in a container if you don’t want it to develop into a colony. It can be invasive in some areas, so check with your local extension office before planting.

Direct sow Chinese Lantern seeds ¼ inches deep in full sun to part shade in early spring. Keep them well-watered, and they will germinate in a few weeks. 

Blue Flax

Close-up of Linum lewisii flowering plant in the garden. The plant has small, bright blue, star-shaped flowers with five petals. The flowers bloom in clusters atop thin stems, creating a beautiful display. The leaves of Linum lewisii are narrow and elongated, greenish-gray in color.
Blue flax, a native wildflower with delicate blue flowers and finely needled foliage.
BOTANICAL NAMELinum lewisii
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-9

Blue flax, sometimes called Prairie flax, is a wildflower native to the Western US and Canada. It has delicate blue flowers atop finely needled foliage. Each flower lasts only one day, but there’s such a profusion of blooms that you won’t mind. When planted en masse, they produce a showy sea of azure.

Blue flax will slowly self-seed and form a nice patch all on its own. It can handle arid climates and looks great in a rock garden. Normal flowering time is late spring to mid-summer. I have them next to roses, where their pale blue color contrasts beautifully with yellow and orange blooms.

To plant, sow seeds outdoors in early spring and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Germination will occur in 3-4 weeks. In future seasons, you can propagate them via cuttings or gather seeds from their dried pods.  

Eryngium ‘Blue Glitter’

Close-up of a flowering plant Eryngium planum in a sunny garden, against a blurred green background. The plant has striking spherical flower heads in bright blue. The flowers consist of many small inflorescences and are surrounded by pointed bracts. The leaves of Eryngium planum are deeply lobed and silvery gray in color.
‘Blue Glitter’ is a stunning garden showstopper with upright stalks and shimmering indigo thistle-like flowers.
BOTANICAL NAMEEryngium planum
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT3-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-7

‘Blue Glitter’ is a showstopper in the garden. Best at the back of the border, it has upright, sturdy stalks and shimmery indigo thistle-like flowers.

This cultivar flowers earlier than most eryngium and will produce flowers in its first year when sown in spring. Plant it outdoors a few weeks before the last frost in a sunny area. Cold early spring weather will help it germinate. Sprouts will appear in 7-10 days once temperatures are about 70℉. If spring temps are already warm in your area, you can cold-stratify the seeds by placing them on a barely-damp paper towel or coffee filter inside a plastic bag and storing them in the fridge for 3-4 weeks before planting.

‘Blue Glitter’s’ blooms last forever on the plant and make wonderful dried arrangements. The deep metallic blue is stunning in the garden. A drought-friendly pollinator magnet!

Scarlet Bee Balm

Close-up of Monarda didyma flowering plant in the garden. The plant has showy red-pink flowers. The flowers are tubular in shape and form dense inflorescences on tall stems. The leaves of Monarda didyma are opposite, lanceolate, with a slightly serrated edge, green.
Bee balm, a vibrant and low-maintenance perennial herb, attracts pollinators and hummingbirds.
BOTANICAL NAMEMonarda didyma
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull sun
HEIGHT3-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-9

Bee balm is a low-maintenance perennial herb that comes in various vivid colors. I love scarlet bee balm for its interesting raggedy blooms and the burst of red they give to the garden. This is a great North American native to plant for pollinators and hummingbirds.

Bee Balm has low water needs and thrives in poor soil. Deer will avoid it due to its minty-scented foliage. Like all plants in the mint family, Scarlet Bee Balm spreads via rhizomes. The naturally-forming clumps are attractive and long-blooming, but be careful to remove new plants if you’d prefer your bee balm to stay compact.

Surface sow seeds directly into the garden in spring. Germination will occur in 2-3 weeks. After the first blooms, shear it down for a fall repeat!

Agastache

Close-up of a flowering plant Agastache foeniculum in a sunny garden. The plant has spikes of tubular flowers of a purple hue. The flowers are densely collected and rise above the foliage on tall stems. The leaves are lanceolate, fragrant, gray-green in color, with serrated edges.
Agastache is a garden-worthy perennial with tall spikes of tiny purple flowers above mint-scented foliage.
BOTANICAL NAMEAgastache foeniculum
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-8

There are over 20 varieties of Agastache, but Agastache foeniculum, or Anise Hyssop, is particularly garden-worthy. This perennial, native to the Northern United States, produces tall spikes of tiny purple flowers that rise above its gray-green, mint-scented foliage.

Long valued for its medicinal uses, Agastache is a workhorse perennial that begins blooming in midsummer and into fall. It’s naturally clump-forming and looks wonderful when allowed to develop into masses of color. It’s beloved by bumblebees, hummingbirds, and beneficial predatory insects.

Plant Agastache seeds directly in the ground in a sunny area in late winter to early spring. They will germinate in 14 to 21 days.

Mexican Fleabane

Close-up of a flowering plant Erigeron karvinskianus in a sunny garden. The plant bears small, purplish-like flowers with white or pale pink petals and yellow centres. The flowers are profuse and cover the plant in clusters, creating a charming and delicate appearance. The leaves of Erigeron karvinskianus are narrow, green, with a slightly serrated or lobed margin.
Mexican Fleabane is an adaptable plant with delicate white daisy-like flowers in shades of light and dark pink.
BOTANICAL NAMEErigeron karvinskianus
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT1-2 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES6-10

Mexican Fleabane flowers look like fragile little daisies – enough so that they’re also referred to as “Santa Barbara daisies”. They are white with hints of light and dark pink. They have a wispy quality that adds whimsy to the front of the border and when trailing out of pots. 

A Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit winner, Mexican Fleabane is an adorable and easy-to-care-for little plant. Bloom time is from spring through fall. This adaptable species has a cascading habit that works well in rock gardens.

To plant, sow the small seeds directly on the soil surface in spring after the last frost. You can also start them indoors 3-4 weeks before you plan to plant them out. If conditions are right, they will return each year and gently reseed themselves. 

Penstemon ‘Twizzle Mix’

Close-up of a flowering plant Penstemon barbatus 'Twizzle Mix' against a blurred garden background. The plant has thin tubular red flowers. The flowers grow in tall racemes, creating a striking upright appearance.
Penstemon has long-lasting tubular blooms, prefers full sun, tolerates dry conditions, and attracts beneficial insects.
BOTANICAL NAMEPenstemon barbatus ‘Twizzle Mix’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull sun
HEIGHT3-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-9

Penstemon is a native US wildflower with long-lasting tubular blooms. The ‘Twizzle Mix’ cultivar blooms the first year from seed in a range of pinks, purples, and reds.

For first-year blooms, early outdoor sowing is recommended. You can try winter sowing in containers or start indoors a few weeks before planting directly in the ground.

Penstemon prefers full sun and tolerates dry conditions once established. It will bloom in midsummer and produce another flush in fall if deadheaded. Penstemons make great companion plants for other ornamentals. They attract ladybugs and predatory wasps that love to munch on pests!

Fig-leaved Hollyhock ‘Las Vegas’

Close-up of a flowering plant in a sunny garden. The plant has large showy flowers in various shades of pink, white and dark pink. The flowers have a classic mallow shape with overlapping petals arranged in a column along a tall, strong stem. Las Vegas leaves are palmately lobed and deep green.
Fig-leaved Hollyhocks are a great perennial with large, saucer-like flowers in different shades of pink, yellow, white, and crimson.
BOTANICAL NAMEAlcea ‘Las Vegas’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT5-6 feet
HARDINESS ZONES3-9

The perfect perennial for adding vertical interest and cottage charm, Fig-leaved Hollyhocks differ from their traditional cousins in that they are true perennials and bloom their first year.

The ‘Las Vegas’ hybrid is especially desirable because it comes in a few different flashy shades of pink, yellow, white, and crimson. The bold saucer-like flowers are large, reaching 4 inches across. Their foliage is attractive, too, with giant deeply-lobed leaves.

Plant fig-leaved hollyhock seeds directly into the ground in early spring. They are not picky about soil but prefer sand over clay. You should see germination in two weeks. After bloom, you can cut down the flower stalks nearly to the ground, where they’ll rise up again next year!

Shasta Daisy ‘Becky’

Close-up of a flowering plant Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky' covered with water drops, in a sunny garden. Shasta Daisy 'Becky' has large white daisy-like flowers with yellow centres. The flowers have overlapping petals and a classic appearance.
Shasta daisies feature the iconic open shape with white petals and sunny yellow centers.
BOTANICAL NAMELeucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES5-9

Shasta daisies are a classic crowd-pleasing garden addition. Simple and easy, they have the immediately recognizable open shape that comes to mind when envisioning a flower. Their white color and sunny yellow centers go with everything.

‘Becky’ Shasta daisies will bloom in their first year when direct sown in spring. Plant several seeds every few inches for a long border or a sow in a pot for cheerful blooms near the house.

Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep them moist until germination, which takes around two weeks. These will be a long-lived favorite in your garden!

Jupiter’s Beard

Close-up of a flowering plant Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus' in a garden. The plant has clusters of bright dark pink flowers. The flowers are small, tubular in shape, collected in dense rounded brushes on tall stems.
Jupiter’s Beard, a vibrant plant for mixed borders, features large flower spikes in red, pink, purple, or white.
BOTANICAL NAMECentranthus Ruber Coccineus
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-9

Jupiter’s Beard is a splashy plant for the mixed border. The large flower spikes come in red, pink, purple, or white, with the most widely grown being the bright strawberry red ‘Pretty Betsy.’ These make fantastic cut flowers!

Bees and butterflies enjoy Jupiter’s Beard. The foliage is pointed and olive green. While this plant is gorgeous, it can reseed aggressively in temperate climates. Remove spent flower stalks after bloom if you want to keep them from spreading.

To plant, sow the seeds into soil clear of weeds once temperatures reach 65℉. Sprouts will appear in 2-3 weeks.

Feverfew

Close-up of flowering Tanacetum parthenium plants in a sunny garden. The plant has delicate small white daisy-like flowers with bright yellow centers and finely divided fern-like leaves. The leaves are deeply dissected and have a feathery or lacy texture.
Feverfew, initially planted for its foliage used in migraine-preventing tea.
BOTANICAL NAMETanacetum parthenium
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT1-2 feet
HARDINESS ZONES5-10

I originally planted some feverfew seeds so I could harvest their foliage to use in a migraine-preventing tea. I started with a couple of plants, and I now have a nice low self-sown hedge in front of a rose bed.

Feverfew has pretty lobed leaves and many delicate, white flowers that resemble mini-daisies. The ‘Snowball’ variety has little pompons blooms and is cute in bouquets.

This is a great edging plant and a valuable companion in the garden for its ability to repel pests with its citrusy scent. Like many other varieties that do well direct-sown, it will reseed itself. Remove volunteer seedlings if you don’t like where they pop up.

Plant feverfew seeds as soon as the soil can be worked in the garden in spring. Keep them moist ‘til germination occurs in a few weeks, and water the mature plants regularly. 

Lance-Leaved Coreopsis

Close-up of a flowering bed of Coreopsis lanceolata plants. the plant has bright yellow daisy-like flowers with distinct lanceolate leaves. Coreopsis lanceolata flowers have bright yellow petals and a dark brown center. The leaves are lanceolate, green in color and arranged in a basal rosette.
Lance-leaved coreopsis is a hardy and low-maintenance wildflower that prefers cold temperatures to germinate.
BOTANICAL NAMECoreopsis lanceolata
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull sun
HEIGHT1-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-9

This perky wildflower, often called tickseed, is virtually trouble-free and simple to grow from seed. It does like about a month of cold temperatures to germinate, so it’s perfect to sow in early spring for those who still have cold nights.

Lance-leaved coreopsis is native to most of the United States and parts of Mexico and Canada. It has prolific bright yellow flowers that look like little suns. The plant stays compact in height and is beautiful in prairie-style gardens. If kept tidy via deadheading, it will also stay compact and fit in formal spaces.

Plant coreopsis seeds directly in the garden in late winter to early spring and just barely cover with soil. If your climate has already warmed up, put seeds in a moist paper towel in the fridge for 30 days before planting outside. The plants will likely still germinate in time for lots of joyful yellow blooms!

Yarrow

Close-up of a blooming Achillea millefolium in a garden, against a blurred green background. The plant bears flat, umbrella-shaped clusters of small, white, daisy-like flowers. The leaves are pinnate and fragrant, greyish-green in color. They are deeply dissected into many small thread-like segments, which gives them a delicate and airy appearance.
Yarrow, with its soft ferny foliage and attractive umbel flowers, is a resilient perennial that attracts beneficial insects.
BOTANICAL NAMEAchillea millefolium
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT1-2 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES2-9

Yarrow has soft ferny foliage and pretty umbel flowers beloved by predatory insects like lacewings. While the straight native species is a foamy white, there are cultivars like ‘Cerise Queen’ and ‘Apple Blossom’ that bloom in intense hues of red and pink.

Yarrow is a bulletproof perennial that will grow pretty much anywhere. Once established, it needs no supplemental water. Yarrow does spread, so make sure you’re happy with where you’ve planted it. I put mine near roses to attract the beneficial bugs that eat aphids. It makes a gorgeous bouquet filler.

To plant the yarrow, gently press the seeds onto the surface soil and keep it watered until you see sprouts. Growth will appear in about two weeks.

Iceland Poppies

Close-up of many blooming Papaver nudicaule in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, cup-shaped, with papery petals and a central cluster of contrasting stamens. Flowers come in a variety of colors including red, orange and white. The stems are thin, green, hairy.
Iceland poppies, with their translucent petals and vibrant neon blooms, create a stunning impact in the garden.
BOTANICAL NAMEPapaver nudicaule
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun-Part Shade
HEIGHT1-2 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES2-7

I love the papery, nearly transparent petals of Iceland poppies, whose blooms seem to glow in the sun. They add major impact to the garden with their nearly neon blooms in red, yellow, orange, and pink.

Also called Arctic poppies, these flowers have fuzzy leafless stems and big flowers with bulls-eye centers. They produce decorative seedheads that kids love to shake and rattle!

Poppies have sensitive roots that don’t like to be disturbed, so plant them where they can stay long-term.  Pick a bright location and lightly rake the seeds into the soil surface in early spring. In a few weeks, you’ll see sprouts. Once they begin to reach full height, pull back on the water, as poppies prefer to dry out a bit.

Foxglove ‘Dalmatian Peach’

Close-up of many blooming Digitalis purpurea ‘Dalmatian Peach’ in the garden. The plant has tall, erect stems covered in bell-shaped peach blossom flowers with hints of apricot and pink. The flowers are mottled or freckled in a darker pink and yellow. The flowers are clustered in vertical spikes that rise above the foliage for a spectacular display.
‘Dalmatian Peach’ has bell-shaped apricot flowers that thrive in dappled shade.
BOTANICAL NAMEDigitalis purpurea ‘Dalmatian Peach’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun-Part Shade
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-10

This cottage garden essential stands out in the landscape and is a trooper in dappled shade. Foxgloves are usually biennial, focusing on roots and foliage the first year and blooming in the 2nd. The splendid ‘Dalmatian’ series reliably blooms in its first year if started early in the season.

My favorite is ‘Dalmatian Peach’, which has towers of large bell-shaped apricot flowers. The interior is freckled with darker pink and yellow. Upright and proud, they are dazzling in the back of the border. The ‘Dalmatian’ series also comes in purple, pink, and white. 

‘Dalmatian Peach’ is best started indoors a couple of months prior to the last frost for current season blooms. When direct sown, flowers will appear the following year. Keep all foxgloves out of the reach of children and pets, as it’s extremely toxic when consumed.

Gaura

Close-up of a flowering plant Oenothera lindheimeri in a garden, against a blurry background. Gaura has delicate and graceful flowers along with thin leaves. Gaura flowers are small and have a unique structure, they have four petals, are white in color and look like butterflies fluttering in the wind. The flowers are borne on long, wiry stems, giving the plant an airy feel.
Gaura is a great option for water-wise gardens, pairs well with drought-tolerant plants.
BOTANICAL NAMEOenothera lindheimeri
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT1.5-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES7-9

Gaura, also called Wandflower, has dainty flowers that look like fluttering butterflies in the breeze. My favorite is ‘Sparkle White,’ with elongated showy stamens.

This is a popular choice for water-wise gardens. Gaura works wonderfully with other drought-tolerant plants like coneflower and Black-eyed Susans or as a floaty complement to large, structured shrubs.

Gaura stands up to the hottest summer heat and likes full sun. Sow it directly in the garden in early spring for summer blooms. Germination is slow (about 30 days), but the plants take off quickly. 

False Sunflower

Close-up of Heliopsis helianthoides flowering plant in the garden. The flowers are medium in size, reminiscent of sunflower flowers with bright yellow petals radiating from a central copper disc. The leaves of Heliopsis heliantoides are lanceolate with serrated edges and bright green in color. They are arranged alternately along the stems and provide a lush backdrop for the vibrant flowers.
False Sunflower produces vibrant yellow daisy-like flowers and lush foliage that return annually.
BOTANICAL NAMEHeliopsis helianthoides
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT4-5 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-9

If you’re a fan of annual sunflowers, it doesn’t get much better than the perennial False Sunflower, which produces mounds of blooms that come back yearly. With flowers resembling bright yellow daisies and lots of bushy foliage, false sunflower ups the ante with nearly two full months of bloom time.

This US native (east of the Rockies) will keep your garden buzzing with life.  Try them planted with purple asters and echinacea for a contrasting color display. In addition to brightening up flowerbeds, false sunflowers have a great vase life indoors.

To grow, plant seeds about a half inch deep in a spot with morning sun. They should germinate in about 3 weeks once temperatures warm to 70 ℉. 

Alpine Aster

Top view, close-up of blooming Aster alpinus in the garden, against the backdrop of green foliage. Aster alpinus flowers are similar to daisies, with radiant purple petals and yellow centers. The leaves of Aster alpinus are lanceolate and bright green in color.
Alpine asters feature slender lavender petals and a distinctive early blooming period.
BOTANICAL NAMEAster alpinus
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT6-12 inches tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-8

Alpine asters have narrow-petaled lavender blooms with golden centers. Native to high elevations in the Western US, Europe, and Asia, they differ from other varieties in the aster family due to their early bloom time.

While many asters have multiple flowers on a single stem, the Alpine version carries one individual bloom per stem and resembles a more delicate purple daisy. They form into a tidy mound that looks charming planted along the border or as a potted plant.

Asters enjoy cool nights and prefer to be planted in early spring when there’s still a bit of frost. Remove any competing weeds, and sow them just under the soil. Germination occurs in 3-4 weeks. Divide these every few years for continued healthy growth and more free plants!

Delphinium ‘Blue Butterfly’

Close-up of a flowering Delphinium grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly' plant against a blurred green background. This perennial has tall spikelets of several individual flowers. Each flower has a bell-shaped structure of deep purple-blue.
Delphiniums create stunning vertical displays similar to foxgloves but with intense blue and purple shades.
BOTANICAL NAMEDelphinium grandiflorum ‘Blue Butterfly’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun-Partial Shade
HEIGHT12-18 inches tall
HARDINESS ZONES3-8

Delphiniums have a similar feel to foxgloves in that they produce eye-catching towers of blooms. Unlike foxgloves, delphiniums come in dark, moody, and intense shades of blue and purple. ‘Blue Butterfly’ is a compact variety growing only 1.5 feet tall, with an airy display of deep violet-blue flowers.

The short stature of ‘Blue Butterfly’ makes it versatile in the garden. It can go behind a spreading ground cover or in front of tall plants to hide legginess. It has an extended bloom period of several weeks in midsummer.

For best results, plant ‘Blue Butterfly’ directly in the garden in early spring or sow indoors 6 weeks before the last frost. Blooms might not appear until late summer when direct sown but will bloom earlier the following year.

Torch Lily

Close-up of a flowering Torch Lily plant in the garden. The plant has tall stems and bright unusual flowers. The flowers form tall spikelets, densely strewn with tubular inflorescences. The individual flowers are tubular and open from bottom to top to create a gradient of color. Flowers start at the base with a bright red or orange hue and fade to yellow or cream towards the top.
Torch Lily has bold and unique spikes of yellow, orange, and red flowers and requires regular watering.
BOTANICAL NAMEKniphofia uvaria
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT3-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES5-9

Torch Lily, or Red Hot Poker, is a unique and intriguing plant with bright yellow, orange, and red flowers on the same tall spike. It has dramatic pointed leaves and an overall bold look.

Though they don’t mind the heat, Red Hot Pokers respond best to regular watering through the summer. They will eventually form clumps that can be divided in fall or early spring.

You can plant tubers or seeds of Torch Lily in early spring for late summer blooms the first year. If keeping in a pot, ensure it is deep enough for their long tap-root to grow.

Verbascum ‘Southern Charm’

Close-up of a flowering Verbascum 'Southern Charm' plant in the garden. This is a hybrid variety of verbascum with large and showy flowers resembling delicate saucers or bells. The flowers have petals in delicate shades of pink and peach. Rich pink stamens protrude from the center of each flower. The leaves of this Verbascum variety are large, elongated and closely spaced along the stems.
Mullein ‘Southern Charm’ has beautiful pastel-colored flowers on tall stalks.
BOTANICAL NAMEVerbascum x hybrida ‘Southern Charm’
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES5-8

Mullein grows like a weed in my area, and I was skeptical of planting an ornamental version. But the densely flowering and soft-colored ‘Southern Charm’ won me over.

This beauty has stalks completely covered in muted pastel blooms. They’re produced in shades of pink, apricot, violet, and pale yellow. Each one has an attractive fuzzy center.

The foliage, like regular mullein, begins as a large, soft gray-green rosette that reminds me of lamb’s ear or dusty miller. This is a stunning plant for the back of the border.

Plant ‘Southern Charm’ seeds indoors or wait ‘til frost has passed to plant right into the garden. Germination takes about 2 weeks at 70℉.

Blue Fescue

Close-up of a Festuca glauca plant in a garden. The plant is an ornamental grass growing in a low, lush tuft, consisting of many narrow needle-like long blue-gray leaves.
Blue fescue is an ornamental grass with fine-textured silver-blue foliage and low water needs.
BOTANICAL NAMEFestuca glauca
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT6-12 inches tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-8

While this ornamental grass isn’t normally grown for its blooms, it will provide lots of interest (and inconspicuous flowers) in its first year. Blue fescue is a valued garden plant for its fine-textured foliage, appealing silver-blue color, and low water needs.

Ornamental grasses like blue fescue are brilliant when interplanted with lots of busy flowers in the border, giving the eye a place to rest and anchoring the whole look. This is an easy-care, compact grass that stays neat in comparison to taller options that sometimes have a messy appearance.

Scatter blue fescue seeds directly in the garden once all danger of frost has passed. They’ll grow into uniform mounding clumps by the end of the season.

‘Walker’s Low’ Nepeta

Close-up of a bee flying next to a Nepeta racemosa flowering plant against a blurred green background. The flowers of Nepeta racemosa are small, lavender in color and clustered in vertical thin spikes.
Catmint, a reliable perennial, is distinct from catnip and lacks the compound that attracts cats.
BOTANICAL NAMENepeta racemosa
SUN REQUIREMENTSFull Sun
HEIGHT2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES4-8

Nepeta, or catmint, is not to be confused with its catnip relative (catmint doesn’t contain the nepetalactone compound that drives cats wild). This is an attractive and dependable perennial that I consider indispensable in the garden.

Short-statured ‘Walker’s Low’ is less likely to flop than other varieties. It blooms in repeat flushes of orchid-purple flowers that cover the plant in color. It has an informal feel that’s a great foil for more structural plants.

Nepeta is similar to lavender in appearance but blooms for a longer period in my garden. This cultivar was named 2007’s Perennial Plant of the Year.

Plant catmint seeds directly in the soil after frost has passed and daytime temps reach 50℉. They need sunlight to germinate, so push them gently into the soil surface. Seeds will sprout in 2-3 weeks.

Evening Primrose ‘Apricot Delight’

Close-up of flowering plants in a sunny garden. Oenothera odorata Apricot Delight shows beautiful large flowers of soft apricot color, and with petals of papery texture. The leaves of this variety are lanceolate and bright green in color.
‘Apricot Delight’ is a fragrant perennial evening primrose with large tropical-looking flowers in a lemony-apricot color.
BOTANICAL NAMEOenothera odorata ‘Apricot Delight’
SUN REQUIREMENTS Full Sun
HEIGHT3-4 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES 4-9

The native evening primrose is a large-flowering biennial that grows in the Central and Eastern US. ‘Apricot Delight’ is a perennial cultivar that returns each year, blooming in its first season.

This variety has big (3 inches across) tropical-looking flowers that remind me of hibiscus. The stems are a beautiful burgundy that contrasts with the lemony-apricot blooms.

‘Apricot Delight’ is highly fragrant and attractive to pollinators. While the straight species reseeds readily, this cultivar is a bit more polite in the garden. Plant it right in the soil in spring, and make sure you allocate enough room for it to spread about 3 feet wide.

Cupid’s Dart

Close-up of flowering Catananche caerulea plants in a garden against a blurred green background. Catananche caerulea, commonly known as Cupid's Dart, has delicate and charming flowers. The flowers are similar to daisies, with papery petals and a bright purple color. They have a distinctive star-shaped central disk of contrasting dark purple.
‘Cupid’s Dart’ is an heirloom perennial known for its papery pale purple flowers on graceful stems.
BOTANICAL NAME Catananche caerulea
SUN REQUIREMENTS Full Sun
HEIGHT 2-3 feet tall
HARDINESS ZONES 4-7

This heirloom flower’s name refers to its rumored use in love potions by the Ancient Greeks. ‘Cupid’s Dart’ produces masses of papery pale purple flowers on thin, graceful stems.

This low-maintenance perennial has multiple season interest. The flowers hold their color well when dried and produce attractive seedheads. It likes somewhat sandy, well-drained soil. Expect it to self-seed for a nice swathe of lavender color.

After your last frost date, sprinkle Cupid’s Dart seeds where you’d like them to grow and cover them with a thin layer of soil. They will germinate in 2-3 weeks when the temperature warms to 65-70℉.

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like seeing a plant you’ve grown from seed become a large and colorful presence in the garden year after year. When you buy seeds instead of nursery-grown plants, you can grow ten times (or more) plants for the price of one!

Next year, you’ll watch for the shoots of your seed-grown perennials to poke out of the soil. It’s a delight I anticipate every spring. Best of all, my garden grows more beautiful every season with minimal effort from me. Plant some perennial flowers from seed this year, and enjoy gorgeous blooms this summer and beyond. Enjoy your flowers!

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