21 Flowering Perennials for Tennessee Gardens

Are you thinking of adding some flowering perennials to your Tennessee garden, but aren't quite sure which plants to choose? There are many different options to pick from, depending on what area of the state you live in. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares her favorite flowering perennials for Tennessee gardens.

Tennessee Purple Coneflower blooming perennial in the garden with pink flowers

The temperate climate of Tennessee and its surrounding states offers local gardeners a wealth of opportunities for creating lush and beautiful perennial gardens. Most of Tennessee falls within USDA Hardiness Zones 6 and 7. And some perennials grow better in these two hardiness zones than others.

Most perennials are easy to grow from seed, which may offer even more selection than the young plants you find at the local garden center. Perennial seeds can generally be started outdoors in the spring, and some gardeners will opt to sow their perennials indoors as early as January or February.

Depending on your garden goals, you can also incorporate perennials into just about any location in your landscape, from a single container to a large, naturalized area. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorite flowering perennials suitable for Tennessee gardens!

Contents

Astilbe ‘Love and Pride’

Astilbe Love and Pride with Bright Pink Flowers in Garden. There is green foliage at the base of the blooms.
Astilbe is well known for its brilliant pink blooms, especially this variety.
botanical-name botanical name Astilbe chinensis ‘Love and Pride’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

There are several species and many cultivars of astilbe available for the adventurous gardener. ‘Love and Pride’ is a cultivar with beautifully dense pink plumes of feathery flowers. The flowers are very showy, bloom in mid-summer, and attract butterflies and many other pollinators.  

Astilbe grows best in partial shade, making it an excellent flower for your shade garden or other shady corners of the yard. Plants prefer medium moisture, well-drained soil. It is a low-maintenance plant, but you may want to remove dead foliage that sometimes dries and browns by late summer.

Autumn Sage ‘Wild Thing’

Pink sage flowers blooming in a spring garden. Plant has vibrant fuchsia-colored blooms with flowers just beginning to blossom at the top of the plant.
botanical-name botanical name Salvia greggii ‘Wild Thing’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 6 to 9

The autumn sage cultivar ‘Wild Thing’ is a brightly flowering shrubby perennial. Leaves are small and oval and have a distinctive fragrance. The hot pink tubular flowers bloom from mid-summer until mid-autumn. The flowers are very showy and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Autumn Sage would be a good addition to a pollinator garden, hummingbird garden, or rock garden. This plant does well in dry to medium-moisture soil that is very well-drained as it will tend to develop rot if grown in wet soil. Give it plenty of sunlight for developing dense vegetative growth and an abundance of flowers.

Bearded Iris

Close up of bright blue flowers. Each flower has three dark blue petals durned downward and three light blue, ruffled petals pointing upward, with long, wide, pointed leaves around them.
The Bearded Iris comes in a variety of colors to choose from and make beautiful cut flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Iris germanica
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 10

Bearded iris is a familiar garden plant and readily available commercially as rhizomes. These plants thrive in full sun but will tolerate some dappled shade.

More heavily shaded plants may grow leaves but not bloom well. Soil should be moist and well-drained with high organic matter.

Bearded iris grows stiff, upright, lancelike leaves. The leaves will remain green throughout the growing season and die back after a hard frost.

Flowers appear on tall stalks in late spring. Flowers are large, showy, and fragrant. They make good cut flowers and are available in a wide variety of unusual colors.

Blanket Flower

Close up of two bright yellow and orange flowers. Each flower has eight overlapping, oval shaped petals that turn from bight orange to yellow around the edges, and has a bright yellow center.
Also known as ‘Gaillardia’, the Blanket flower loves to be in full sun and will reach a height of 2 to 3 feet tall.
botanical-name botanical name Gaillardia x grandiflora
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 10

The blanket flower, sometimes simply called Gaillardia, is a cheerful plant that is easily grown throughout Tennessee. Give it full sun and dry to medium moisture soil with good drainage. This would be a good addition to a butterfly garden, wildlife garden, or rock garden.

Blanket flower is considered a short-lived perennial. Blanket flower is easily grown from seed, and these plants will likely continue to self-seed to keep their garden presence for many years to come. Flowers are bright yellow and orange and attract butterflies and seed-eating birds.

Columbine

Close up of a flower that has five, dark purple, pointed petals behind five smaller, oval shaped, light purple petals with a spiky yellow stamen in the center.
The Columbine flower is known to attract hummingbirds to your yard or garden.
botanical-name botanical name Aquilegia canadensis
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

There are many colorful cultivars of columbine available. Columbine is low-maintenance and easily grown from seed. It is also a native wildflower to the state of Tennessee. Flowers are uniquely shaped and droop down on tall, upright stems. Blooming in the springtime, columbine flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds.

After flowering, upright cup-like seedheads form, and when these dry and you can hear seeds rattling around inside, you can collect and grow many more columbine plants!

Columbine grows well in full sun but also tolerates a considerable amount of shade. Soil should be rich, moist, and well-drained. In the heat of summer, foliage often dies back and then can be trimmed and removed. Plants will resprout the following spring.

Coral Bells

Close up of a silver colored leaf with dark green veining and a scalloped edge. There is a small, bright pink flower just peeking out from behind the leaf.
Coral Bells are fast growing, sun loving plants that make the perfect ground cover.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera americana
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

Also known as heuchera, coral bells are a clump-forming perennial that has equally attractive leaves and flowers. These lovely plants are native to North America, but there are also many colorful varieties and cultivars available.

You can find varieties with multicolored and patterned leaves, and varieties with flowers in varied shades of white, yellow, orange, or pink. They make a great base layer of a shade garden, but can also be a focal point all on their own.

Coral bells can be grown in full sun but are more popular in shade gardens. Heuchera spreads over time to make an effective ground cover. Plants can be divided every few years if they become too dense, or if you want to create new patches of plants distributed throughout your garden.

Garden Phlox

Close up of two tall flower stalks that have a cluster of small, light pink flowers growing in a dome shape on the top of each stalk.
This perennial grows to be around 4 feet and make the perfect flower for pollinator gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Phlox paniculata
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Garden phlox is a pretty summer-flowering phlox that would make a nice addition to a cottage garden or pollinator garden. Clusters of pinkish-purple flowers are lightly fragrant and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Plants grow up to 4 feet tall in ideal conditions, making this a taller perennial wildflower, ideal as a backdrop for smaller plants.  

Grow garden phlox in rich, moist, well-drained soil. It does best in full sun but will tolerate some dappled afternoon shade. Phlox is prone to powdery mildew. You can help promote air circulation by thinning dense growth when plants self-seed and become packed together in large clusters.

Gaura ‘So White’

Close up of a tall flower stalk with several, bright white, four petaled flowers that have long white and yellow stamen growing from the center. Each flower has long, bright pink, skinny petals growing straight down the back of the flower.
These flowers can tolerate hot, humid climates, making them a perfect fit for any Tennessee garden.
botanical-name botanical name Gaura ‘So White’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1 to 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Gaura ‘So White’ is a cultivar of Gaura that is tolerant to the heat and humidity of Tennessee summers. Gaura grows best in full sun. Soil should generally be moist and well-drained. Once established, plants have a long taproot, making them tolerant to drought and dry soils.

Plants form loose clumps and have small leaves and tall flower stalks that benefit from some support, so they don’t flop over.

Flowers bloom throughout the summer with delicate but showy, white, 5-petaled flowers. Remove spent flower stems to maintain a neat appearance and encourage further blooming.

Chrysanthemum ‘Cathy’s Rust’

Cathys Rust Chrysanthemum Flowers Growing in Garden With Bright Orange Colors. The flowers have orange almost coral colored flower petals, with yellow center stamens. There is green foliage at the base of the plants.
This popular cultivar has bright, coral colored flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Chrysanthemum ‘Cathy’s Rust’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Chrysanthemums, or just ‘mums,’ are frequently sold as potted plants for seasonal fall decoration. There are many varieties of chrysanthemums that are winter hardy, low maintenance, and come back to flower year after year.

‘Cathy’s Rust’ is one variety of hardy mum that will bloom reliably throughout the fall and until the first frost. It blooms with bright reddish-orange flowers. The flowers attract butterflies so you could easily incorporate this plant into a pollinator garden or grow it as a fall-blooming accent plant anywhere in the landscape.

Chrysanthemums prefer full sun with moist, well-drained soil. Mulch mums in the winter to add some extra protection for their shallow roots.

Hosta

Large bush with large, light green, curled up leaves that have tall flower stalks with light purple flowers on them.
Hostas are beautiful shade garden plants that comes in a variety of different colors to choose from.
botanical-name botanical name Hosta spp.
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 2 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

There are many beautiful varieties of hosta. You can find plants with different leaf sizes in varying shades of green, and flowers ranging from white to light and dark purple. Hostas are an ideal plant for a shade garden. Grow them in rich, moist, well-drained soil with partial or full shade.

Hostas have attractive leaves throughout the growing season. Single leaves grow on stems emerging from the ground in dense masses. From late summer into early fall, tall flower stalks are loosely lined with slightly downturned trumpet-like flowers. The flowers are showy and attract hummingbirds.

Lambs Ear

Close up of a light, fuzzy, silver-green stalk with tiny purple flowers and small fussy leaves on it.
This perennial thrives in full sun, with dry to medium-moisture soil.
botanical-name botanical name Stachys bysantina
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.75 to 1.5 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Lambs ear is best recognized for its extremely soft and fuzzy silvery-green leaves. This plant also develops purplish-pink flowers in mid-summer. Plants stay fairly low and spread along the ground, making an effective carpet-like ground cover.

Grow lambs ear in full sun in a rock garden, or along edges and borders. Foliage often dies back severely in the winter and dead leaves can be easily removed to make room for fresh spring growth. This plant grows best in full sun, with dry to medium-moisture soil. Once established, lambs ear is fairly drought tolerant.

Large-flowered Tickseed

Close up of bright yellow flowers that have overlapping, yellow petals with a spiky edge and a red smudge of color at the base, with a spiky yellow center.
Large-flowered Tickseed flowers are summer bloomers and will attract a variety of pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis grandiflora
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5 to 2.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

Tennesee gardeners can choose from a number of different varieties of Coreopsis. The large-flowered tickseed is a showy native wildflower with large yellow flowers. Flowers bloom in mid-summer and attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

This would be a good plant for a butterfly garden or prairie garden. The large-flowered tickseed thrives in dry to medium-moisture soil with good drainage. This plant is quite tolerant of heat and humidity and will freely self-seed in ideal conditions.

Lenten Rose

Close up of two light pink flowers that have five, flat, rounded petals with a spiky yellow center. Each flower hangs slightly bent over on its stem.
The Lenten Rose will thrive vest in a shady location with plenty of moist, rich soil.
botanical-name botanical name Helleborus orientalis
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 1 to 1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

Lenten rose is one of the first shade-friendly perennials to bloom each year. They start flowering in winter and continuing into spring. Leaves are tough, leathery, and evergreen, but plants will continue to grow fresh new leaves each spring.

Leaves are large and palmate, emerging from the ground on long stems. Flowers large and showy, varying in color from white to pink to dusky maroon. The single blooms droop slightly downwards.

Deer and rabbits do not bother this plant, and it is not too picky about soil conditions, so it can be grown in amost any shaded location. It prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. Plants will form dense clusters over time and will also self-seed in ideal conditions.

Lungwort

Flower stem with several small pink and purple flowers blooming from buds and long pointed leaves, with some white spots on it.
Lungworts are low growing flowers that will had a beautiful blanket of color to your garden.
botanical-name botanical name Pulmonaria officinalis
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 0.5 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

If you are having trouble finding interesting flowering plants for a shady location, lungwort is a good plant to consider. Choose a shaded location with rich, moist soil. Soil should be well-drained or plant roots may develop rot if kept too wet.

Lungwort develops a low cluster of gradually-tapered oblong leaves. In late spring, it blooms with tall clusters of colorful flowers that start as pink but become blue as they mature. Plants will slowly spread over time, forming colonies that look very attractive, or they can be divided as needed.

Tennessee Coneflower

Pink Tennessee Coneflower in Garden With Butterfly. Pink flowers are vibrant and blooming in spring. Green foliage is out of focus in the background.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea tennesseensis
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

Similar to the more common purple coneflower called Echinachea Purpea, this variety of Echinacea is called the Tennessee Coneflower or Echinacea tennesseensis and is also native to the state of Tennessee.

It was once considered endangered but removed from the endangered plant list in 2011. It’s now available and sold via seed in many locations.

Flowers are large and showy with purple petals and prominent central discs. Butterflies come for the summer nectar, and birds will forage on the seedheads in the fall.

Plant the Tennessee Coneflower in a sunny location, although it will tolerate some light shade. Plants prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil. Once established, however, coneflower is quite tolerant of drought and dry soil conditions. Plants grow easily from seed and may self-seed in ideal conditions.

Rough Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’

Large bush with long, skinny branches covered in tiny, bright yellow flowers.
Rough Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’ thrive in full sun with moist soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3 to 3.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

Many people think goldenrod causes hay fever, but its blooming period just happens to coincide with other less-conspicuous plants that do cause allergies. Goldenrod is a beautiful yellow-flowering perennial that would be a welcome addition to a butterfly garden or naturalized prairie garden.

Flowers bloom in the fall after many other plants have finished blooming for the season. The rough goldenrod cultivar ‘Fireworks’ displays long streamer-like bracts of tiny yellow flowers that are very attractive to butterflies.

Plants can grow to 3.5 feet tall in full sun with moist soil. Give this goldenrod plenty of room to grow because it can become quite bushy as it reaches maturity!

Shasta Daisy ‘Belgian Lace’

Belgian Lace Shasta Daisy blooming with white ruffled petals in the middle of a spring garden. The image shows a close up of the flowers themselves, with delicate white petals that are thin. Each flower has hundreds of bright yellow center stamens.
This type of Shasta daisy has brilliant white petals that are thin, which is where it gets the name.
botanical-name botanical name Leucanthemum ‘Belgian Lace’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.75 to 1 foot
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5 to 9

Shasta daisy ‘Belgian Lace’ is a compact, mound-forming, flowering perennial. Plant it in a rock garden, along borders and edges, or even in a large outdoor container.

Plants grow best in full sun, although will tolerate dappled afternoon shade, particularly in hotter climates. Soil should be dry to medium-moisture and well-drained.

The ‘Belgian Lace’ Shasta daisy blooms through the summer. Its beautiful flowers have numerous fine white petals with a bright yellow center. The flowers make good cut flowers and attract butterflies and other insect pollinators.

Spiderwort

Close up of five, small, light purple flowers with three petals and a tiny yellow stamen. Flowers are growing off of a larger stem in clusters of small green buds.
The Spiderwort is a wildflower often seen growing on the side of roads and ravines.
botanical-name botanical name Tradescantia virginiana
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 1 to 3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 9

Spiderwort is sometimes seen as a roadside plant or growing along moist ravines. This native wildflower is also a welcome addition to the home garden. Spiderwort grows best with partial shade and moist soil, but will tolerate a variety of growing conditions.

Spiderwort leaves are bright green and broadly grass-like. It blooms throughout the summer months with showy 3-petaled purple flowers. This plant would be most at home when grown with other perennials, in a naturalized area, or in a shade garden.

White Stonecrop

Cluster of tiny, white, star shaped flowers surrounded by thick, tiny, green leaf clusters.
White Stonecrop comes in a variety of colors and is often used as ground cover in rock gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum album
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.25 to 0.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 8

Stonecrop comes in many different species and varieties. Many of them are well suited for Tennessee gardens. White stonecrop is a succulent that grows best in full sun with dry to medium-moisture soil.

This stonecrop will spread to fill in small areas, making an effective ground cover. Grow it in a rock garden, along a border, or in a large outdoor container.

White stonecrop has small, fleshy, oval leaves. Leaves are colorful and may vary from bright green to shades of pink, yellow, and orange, particularly when grown in bright sunlight.

Throughout the summer months, white stonecrop displays branching stalks of small white flowers that will attract tons of butterflies, making it perfect for a pollinator garden. Leaves are evergreen, providing year-round garden interest.

Swamp Milkweed

Tall thick green stem with smaller stems branching off that have clusters of tiny pink flowers on it.
The Swamp Milkweed thrives in full sun and will reach a height of 3 to 4 feet tall.
botanical-name botanical name Asclepias incarnata
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3 to 4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3 to 9

Milkweeds are ideal plants for a butterfly or pollinator-themed garden, or for anyone who wants to attract monarch butterflies, whose caterpillars feed exclusively on these plants.

Swamp milkweed grows best in full sun, with rich, moist soil. It is quite tolerant of wet soils as well, giving it the name swamp milkweed.

Swamp milkweed has relatively narrow leaves growing along upright stems. It blooms from mid to late summer with dense clusters of highly showy pink flowers.

The flowers are very attractive to a variety of butterflies and other insect pollinators. In the fall, long pointed seedpods burst open to reveal masses of soft fluffy seeds that can be easily grown into new plants.

Yarrow

Close up of a tall green, flower stalk with a cluster of tiny, bright red, flowers clustered on top, with long fern like leaves.
‘Pomegranate’ yarrow loves full sun and can tolerate dry soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium ‘Pomegranate’
plant-type plant type Herbaceous perennial
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5 to 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4 to 8

‘Pomegranate’ yarrow is a red-flowering cultivar with long-lasting blooms. Deep maroon-red flower clusters bloom from mid-summer into early fall and attract butterflies and bees. The foliage is lacy and fern-like and quite attractive on its own.

Yarrow grows best in full sun with dry to medium-moisture soil. Once established, yarrow is tolerant of dry soil and drought conditions.

Plants will spread quickly and can act as a ground cover to fill borders, edges, corners, and container gardens. Larger clumps can be divided, or extra rhizomes can simply be removed as they grow too densely.

Final Thoughts

Gardeners in Tennessee and surrounding states have many different options when deciding which perennials to plant. Be creative with your selections and look for variety in color, leaf shape, and bloom time. Plant some flowers for the many different pollinators that are sure to visit and plant some others just for fun!

All of the plants in this list are well-adapted to grow successfully in Tennessee, regardless of which part of the state you live. Choose plants that will thrive in the garden location you plan to plant them.

Make sure to pay attention to if the perennials you choose need full sun or partial- shade, and how much moisture they need. This list is just a sampling of the vast array of flowering perennials available for the adventurous Tennessee gardener!

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