21 Flowering Perennials For Wisconsin Gardens

Wisconsin gardens need hardy plants that can be resilient through bitter cold winters and warm, humid summers. If you've decided to add some perennials to your garden in Wisconsin, there are a number of plants to choose from. In this article, gardening expert Liz Jaros shares her favorite flowering perennials you can add to your garden this season.

Perennial flowers growing in Wisconsin garden with bright pink blooms.

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Wisconsin winters are not for the faint of heart, and they last a really long time. Even in ‘mild’ seasons, there is snow. And ice. And bone-chilling cold. But just when we think we can’t take it anymore, we notice some little green shoots popping up through the cold, hard dirt in our perennial beds. And we know everything is going to be okay.

For a Wisconsin gardener, the first few sights and smells of spring are intoxicating. They fill us with hope and allow us to imagine a landscape that’s no longer gray and brown. It’s part of the joy of living in a region with a true change of seasons. And it’s one of the reasons many of us live here. 

With the state of Wisconsin spanning three hardiness zones (3-5) and temperatures in some parts dipping as low as -35 degrees, you might think it wouldn’t be a hospitable environment for flowering plants. But that’s actually what makes it the ideal habitat for perennials that require a true winter dormant period in order to thrive.

When choosing the right flowering perennials for your Wisconsin landscape, the most important factor to consider is sun exposure. After that, it’s just a matter of timing, color palette, and mature size. To help you sift through your options, we’ve profiled 21 of our favorite, easy-to-grow, flowering perennials for Wisconsin gardens. Read on for the inside scoop and get ready to get planting. 

Purple Coneflower

Close-up of several Purple Coneflower featuring their flower heads, which are composed of numerous long, thin and purple ray petals around a spiky brownish-orange center disk.
Grow purple coneflowers in mixed perennial beds or prairie gardens to entice pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea purpurea
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 3-4 feet tall, 18-24 inches wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

A ray of purple or pink daisy-like petals fans out around a prominent brown seed cone on this Wisconsin favorite. Flowers are typically 5-6 inches wide atop strong stems with coarse, lance-shaped leaves. 

Blooms will replenish without being deadheaded, but the plant’s overall appearance will be greatly improved by snipping off spent blooms. Divide every 3-4 years to address crowding, and this one will keep coming back for decades. 

Grow coneflowers in prairie gardens or near the back of mixed perennial beds. Its nectar is very attractive to pollinators, and seed heads that are left in place for winter will help birds and other critters survive the long, cold months. Our favorites include Butterfly Kisses, Merlot, and Green Envy. 

Clematis

Clematis plant displaying its large, showy and purple flowers. The leaves are compound and green. There is a steel gate at the back of the plant.
For a whimsical vine with sweet-smelling, star-shaped flowers, consider planting clematis.
botanical-name botanical name Clematis spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, pink, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6-12 feet tall
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

For a whimsically twisted, rambling vine full of sweet-smelling, star-shaped flowers, consider letting a clematis plant climb your backyard fence or trellis. Some species bloom for an extended period of time in early spring, while others wait a little longer, and some will bloom again and again all season long.  

Leaves are typically heart-shaped and brightly colored. Stems are semi-woody and flexible. Grow clematis in a location with full sun, but keep roots cool by covering them with rocks or the leaves of another plant. Cut the entire plant back to about 12 inches above the ground after it has finished flowering for the season. 

Most clematis are hardy to zone 4, which includes a good chunk of Wisconsin, but there are also quite a few that can handle zone 3’s frigid winter temperatures.

Look for clematis in the Atragene group if you are located in northwest Wisconsin, and you’ll have no problem filling a sunny trellis with this cottage garden darling. For a colorful vine of sweet nodding blooms, give Maidwell Hall, Jacqueline Du Pre, or Rosy O’Grady a try. 

Astilbe

Several Astilbe plants with large, plume-like clusters, white and pink flowers. The flowers are attached to the slender, red stalks. The leaves are green, glossy and serrated, and are arranged in a basal rosette.
Astilbe comes in various sizes, from dwarf to larger cultivars.
botanical-name botanical name Astilbe spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, red, pink, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Part sun, shade
height height 1-3 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

If you’re looking to add some texture and color in an area of the yard that has a little bit of shade, consider working some astilbe into the mix. This clump-forming perennial features fern-like foliage in varying shades of green and spiky, feathery flower plumes of red, pink, purple, and white.

Astilbe sizes range from dwarf varieties that come in just under a foot tall to larger cultivars that reach heights of up to 3 feet. This perennial grows well beneath ornamental tree canopies and in the shadows of mature shrubs, so use it in the woodland or shade garden for some pretty puffs of color. 

Although astilbe will grow well in uneven terrain (around tree roots, rocks, etc.) it does require a lot of moisture, so plan accordingly. Bridal Veil, Red Sentinel, and Fanal are all popular astilbe cultivars sold in Wisconsin garden centers.  

Catmint

Close-up of Winsconsin Perennial flower Catmint that grows in clusters at the top of the stems. The flowers are tubular, two-lipped and are lavender in color.
This plant benefits from a little afternoon shade but needs full light for predictable blooming.
botanical-name botanical name Nepeta
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, blue, pink, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-3 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

If you are looking for a low-maintenance perennial, catmint is your plant. A mounding plant with sprays of silver-green foliage radiating out from a central clump, catmint’s arching racemes are actually composed of a multitude of small, tubular flowers. 

Equally at home in a natural setting, a formal landscape, and a pot on the patio, catmint will usually flower again if you cut it back after the first blooms have faded. While this genus does require full sun in order to flower predictably, it will benefit from a little shade in the late afternoon. 

Small varieties such as Walker’s Low and Cat’s Pajamas make nice border plants, while Blue Moon and Dawn to Dusk will be larger and behave more like shrubs. All catmint plants will require watering during their first year but should not need supplemental irrigation once established. 

Creeping Phlox

Close-up of creeping phlox flowers that are small and star-shaped, with five petals, and are light purple color. The leaves are small and narrow, with a pointed tip, and are green in color.
The thin and pinnate leaves of this plant create a mat of flowers which may be sheared back to get another round of blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Phlox subulata
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, pink, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 6-12 inches tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

All phlox cultivars in the subulata species will return perennially in Wisconsin gardens. Commonly known as creeping or moss phlox, these beautiful spring bloomers feature loose clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers with tubular petals. We often find them spilling over rock walls, scrambling up slopes, or blanketing the ground beneath other perennials. 

Leaves are thin and pinnate, resembling rosemary or fern foliage. As plants spread, this creates a mat of leaves and flowers that are roughly 2-3 times wider than they are tall. Shear plants back to half their height after the first wave of blooms is complete, and you will likely get another round of flowers. 

A few tried and true Wisconsin-friendly creeping phlox varieties are ‘Snowflake’, ‘Eye Shadow’, and ‘Blue Emerald’. Make sure they are planted in soil that drains well and that they are not exposed to hot, late afternoon sun. 

Black-eyed Susan

Together with other green plants, black-eyed Susan was planted in a garden. The daisy-like blossoms have a dark brown or black core around by brilliant yellow petals. It has long, thin stalks with green, hairy lance-shaped leaves on them.
In Wisconsin, it is simple to cultivate black-eyed Susan flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, orange, red
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Native to the meadows and prairies of the Midwest, black-eyed Susan flowers are among the easiest to grow in Wisconsin landscapes. Flowers are simple in form, with broad rays of narrow petals fanning out around a prominent brown seed cone. Blooms are typically yellow, but they can also be shades of orange and red. 

Stems and leaves are hairy and coarse, which repels pests and provides a nice textural contrast to flowers with softer foliage.

Grow black-eyed Susans in the pollinator garden to draw bees and butterflies, or work some into the cutting garden. It also pairs well with spiky purple plants like Russian Sage or Salvia. 

For a variety that will return perennially for many years to come in Wisconsin, try Becky, Goldsturmm, or Indian Summer

Sedum

Close-up of Sedum flowers which are small, star-shaped, and pink in color that grow in clusters or umbels at the ends of their stems. The leaves are thick, succulent, and green in color, arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant or along the stems.
Sedum plants feature complex flower heads with star-shaped flowers in a tight clusters and thick cactus-like foliage.
botanical-name botanical name Sedum spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Red, pink, yellow, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 6-24 inches tall, 12-24 inches wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

With broad fleshy leaves like a succulent and a high tolerance for late summer heat, you’d think the sedum genus would be more at home in Arizona than it would be in Wisconsin. But this hardy plant is a Midwest gardener’s go-to for ending the perennial season with a colorful bang. 

Referred to casually as ‘stonecrop,’ this plant comes in dense, low-growing, groundcover varieties as well as taller cultivars with a looser, bouquet-like habit. Flower heads are complex, with a tight cluster of miniature, star-shaped flowers fanning out in a corymb. Foliage and stems are thick and cactus-like. 

In Wisconsin, sedum needs plenty of sunshine, good airflow, and well-draining soil. It will also need to be dug up and divided every few years once established. For border and groundcover applications, try ‘Angelina’ or ‘Blue Spruce’. For a taller, shrubbier sedum variety, consider ‘Autumn Joy’ or ‘Black Jack’. 

Daylily

Close-up of Daylily flowers having six petals arranged in a circular pattern, with a vibrant color range from yellow to orange to red. The stalks are long and slender, rising up from the center of the plant and supporting multiple flower buds.
Daylilies require little upkeep, are tolerant of unfavorable soil and irrigation conditions, and are resistant to pests and diseases.
botanical-name botanical name Hemerocallis spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Red, orange, yellow, purple, pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-5 feet tall, 2-4 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Although flowers on this beloved perennial bloom for only one day, each plant sends up multitudes. And not all at the same time. The result is a steady parade of graceful, classic lily flowers for a good chunk of the summer in Wisconsin. Ranging in size from dwarf to giant, daylilies also come in a broad range of colors

Relatively maintenance-free, daylilies will thrive in less-than-perfect soil with less-than-perfect irrigation and are highly resistant to pests and diseases. Just make sure they get plenty of sun. Foliage is strappy and upright, with a fanning habit that resembles ornamental grass when they’re not in bloom.

Once established, they will spread rapidly by clump and must be divided often to prevent diminished bloom production. Varieties that have stood the test of time in Wisconsin include Stella D’Oro, Happy Returns, and Caterhine Woodbury.

Shasta Daisy

Shasta daisy with large, daisy-like flowers having white or yellow petals surrounding a yellow center disk. They are held on long, slender stalks that rise above the foliage. The leaves are slightly serrated along the edges, and green in color.
This popular Wisconsin garden plant attracts bees and butterflies with its signature blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Leucanthemum x superbum
bloom-colors bloom colors White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2-3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

A pollinator favorite in Wisconsin gardens, Shasta daisies draw bees and butterflies in droves with their sunny yellow centers and their open ray of crisp white petals. Blooming in mid to late summer at a time when some of the more delicate perennials are starting to shut down, Shasta daisies can handle a lot of heat and drought. 

Since they are hardy only down to about -20, they might not be a good choice for Wisconsin gardeners in zone 3, but the rest of the state can grow them with minimal effort. And they will keep returning for many, many years.

Leaves and stems are glossy and dark green with coarse or ‘toothed’ margins. Spent flower heads should be snipped off about halfway down their stems to hide the cut. Aim for a spot just above a set of healthy leaves. Regional favorites include Becky, Alaska, and Snowcap. 

Cranesbill

Close-up of Cranesbill with flowers that have five petals, arranged in a star shape, and are purple in color. The leaves are deeply lobed, with a dark green color and a slightly hairy texture. The stems are delicate and flexible.
The delicate flowers of this plant come in shades of pink, purple, and white.
botanical-name botanical name Geranium spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, purple, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 6-24 inches tall, 1-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Do not let this plant’s botanical name confuse you; it is not a relative of the annual plant we call geranium (pelargonium), and it is very much a perennial. In Wisconsin landscapes, cranesbill typically plays the role of groundcover, rambling over the feet of other plants, trees, and shrubs. 

Flowers are delicate and single-form, floating above a soft foliage base in shades of pink, purple, and white. Leaf color varies from dark green to chartreuse, depending on the variety. And most turn a brilliant shade of red when fall winds move in. 

Plant cranesbill varieties high in the soil as they do not like deep roots. They are also vulnerable to mildew problems, so airflow and good drainage are a must.

Cut them back after a wave of flowering and they will likely repeat. Rozanne, Johnson’s Blue, and Kashmir White are all varieties you’re likely to encounter at your local nursery. 

Aster

Close-up of Aster flowers that have a daisy-like shape, with a central disk of tiny yellow or brown flowers surrounded by a ring of larger petals in lavender color. The stalks are long and slender, rising up from the center of the plant and branching out to support multiple flower heads.
Choose Bluebird, Barr’s Pink, or Purple Cloud from the New York and New England groups of this perennial.
botanical-name botanical name Symphotrychum spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, pink, purple, red, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-6 feet tall, 1-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

A fall staple in Wisconsin, asters keep the garden colorful during the dog days of summer and long into the fall. Resembling garden mums, which are typically sold seasonally as annuals in Wisconsin, asters have small, daisy-like blooms with sunny yellow centers. 

Mature size varies greatly between cultivars, with some of the tallest asters requiring staking for stability. Leaves can be either smooth or hairy, and branches can either be multi-stemmed or singular. Flowers are particularly attractive to birds and pollinator bees who are feverishly flitting about during the last few weeks of the growing season.

This perennial has a handful of classifications, with the most familiar varieties being from the New York and New England groups. Try Bluebird, Barr’s Pink, or Purple Cloud for a reliable blast of late-season color. 

Bleeding Heart

Close-up of Bleeding heart flowers which are hanging in rows on arching brown stem, resembling a row of hearts with a droplet at the bottom. Each flower is made up of four petals that are fused at the base, forming a heart-shaped structure. The outer two petals are reflexed.
The short-lived bleeding heart requires wet soil and wind-sheltered areas to flourish.
botanical-name botanical name Lamprocapnos spectabilis
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, red, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade to full shade
height height 1-3 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This beloved perennial is often a Wisconsin gardener’s answer to the question, ‘What kind of flowering plant can I grow in the shade?’

On this woodland staple, heart-shaped pink, red, or white flowers droop from graceful arching stems in spring. Leaves are bright green and sharply cut, radiating out from prominent stems that are often a rich burgundy color. 

Bleeding heart prefers moist soil and a location with some protection from strong winds. Plants will typically bloom for a few weeks and then fade into the landscape background. Foliage will turn yellow by midseason but should be left in place until it’s completely browned out. Valentine, King of Hearts, and Alba are all common to Wisconsin’s woodland landscapes. 

Coral Bells

Coral Bells shown displays leaves that are heart-shaped, maroon, and variegated. The flowers are small and delicate, and grow in clusters on tall, slender red stalks. It is planted alongside other plants in the garden.
For Wisconsin’s zone 3, choose heuchera cultivars from the sanguinea species.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, red, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Part sun to full shade
height height 1-2 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Prized mostly for their colorful, ruffled foliage and a high tolerance for shade, coral bells plants do send up flower spikes in early summer. Individual blooms are tiny and bell-shaped, fanning out along the stem’s axis, but they do add color and texture in a shady spot. 

Most heuchera species will do well in Wisconsin, but if you live in zone 3 choose something from the sanguinea species.

These cultivars will survive even the most brutal of winter temperatures. Amber Waves is a favorite for its gold leaves and fall interest. Chocolate Ruffles and Fire Chief will give you pops of deep red. 

Bearded Iris

Close-up of Bearded Iris that has large and showy purple flowers, with six petals arranged in a distinctive "iris" shape. The green stems are sturdy, upright, and fleshy.
For low-maintenance growth, plant iris rhizomes in well-drained soil with ample sun, avoiding deep planting or mulching.
botanical-name botanical name Iris germanica
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, yellow, blue, white, orange
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

There are several iris species that will grow well in Wisconsin, but for tried and true success, choose something from the bearded or German iris family.

Cultivars in this group will have sword-like foliage and six-petaled flowers with three vertical ‘standards’ and three down-drooping ‘falls.’ A fuzzy little ‘beard’ on petal midribs attracts pollinators and gives this perennial its common name. 

Iris will grow without much fuss if they have ample sunshine, well-drained soil, and properly planted rhizomes. As long as you don’t plant them too deep or cover them with mulch, they will flower for several weeks in spring.

Be prepared to dig them up and divide them every few years to prevent crowding. For a little drama in the yard, try Purple Serenade, Stairway to Heaven, or Acapulco Gold.   

Dianthus

Dianthus shown have flowers that are red in color, and are held on long, slender stems that rise above the foliage. The petals are deeply fringed, giving the flowers a delicate, lacy appearance. The leaves are narrow and gray-green in color.
Dianthus, with its pink color and sheared petals, are a perfect complement to the Wisconsin landscape.
botanical-name botanical name Dianthus spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, red, purple, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 6-24 inches tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Casually known as ‘pinks’ due to their most common hue and their sheared petal edges, dianthus plants make a wonderful addition to the Wisconsin landscape. Flowers are small and single or semi-double form, floating above foliage that’s grassy and blue-green in color. 

You’ll find dianthus in rock gardens and border plantings, often covering the feet of other perennials in the garden. Once established, they have a matt-like habit and sprawl sideways. They have a slightly spicy scent, and their nectar is particularly attractive to pollinators. 

You can’t really go wrong with any selection from the 300 cultivars that are in circulation today, but Cherry Vanilla, Kiss and Tell, and Candy Floss will all pack a pretty pink punch that’s sure to delight. Follow the nursery tag if you’re in zone 3 as there are a handful of dianthus varieties that will not survive if temps dip below -30. 

Coreopsis (Tickseed)

Close-up of Coreopsis flowers that are bright and showy with yellow petals and dark centers. They grow in clusters at the top of slender, green stems.
Consider growing Coreopsis because of its drought resistance, lengthy blooming period, and low maintenance requirements.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Orange, yellow, red, pink, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

If low-maintenance, long-blooming, and drought tolerant sounds like an attractive list of plant qualities to you, consider adding some coreopsis to your Wisconsin garden.

This sturdy plant has wispy, fern-like foliage and a round, shrubby habit. Its cheerful little flowers can be single-form or semi-double, and they cover the plant’s exterior almost completely. 

Coreopsis gets its Tickseed nickname from the little black seeds that cover its central cone. Resembling the pesty insect in size and shape, these seeds are particularly attractive to finches, bees, and butterflies.

To keep these plants flowering all season long, deadhead or shear them back after a flower cycle is complete. ‘Jehtro Tull’, ‘Sun Up’, and ‘Red Elf’ are all reliable winners in this genus. 

Potentilla

Close-up of Potentilla with delicate, daisy-like flowers that are yellow in color. The flowers have a prominent central disc and a ring of thin petals that resemble rays. The leaves are alternate, lobed, have a fern-like appearance, and are dark green in color.
From summer through fall, potentilla blooms in waves with small yellow, white, or pink flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Potentilla fruticosa
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, yellow, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2-4 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-8

While this scrubby little gem looks like something tropical you might find in a Florida landscape, potentilla actually thrives in Wisconsin’s extreme weather conditions. Also known as cinquefoil due to its five-lobed leaves, this perennial has a dense, round habit with a forest green color. 

Blooming in waves from summer through fall, potentilla’s surface is covered with tiny buttercup flowers in shades of yellow, white, or pink.

Shear after blooming to encourage another round and tidy up the plant’s overall appearance. Larger varieties can be used as foundation plantings, while smaller cultivars will grow well in a container or border. Try Primrose Beauty, Happy Face Yellow, or Abbotswood. 

Delphinium

Close-up of Delphinium flowers having tall spires with clusters of blue petals. The leaves grown on alternate sides of the stem and are dark green in color.
The upright form, cold endurance, and blue varieties of this plant help it stand out in Wisconsin gardens.
botanical-name botanical name Delphinium spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, red, purple, white, blue
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-4 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Prized for their upright habit, extreme cold tolerance, and true blue cultivars, delphinium flowers are featured heavily in Wisconsin gardens. Each vertical spire is comprised of many small, buttercup-shaped flowers on a vertical axis, and they will come and go all summer long if deadheaded regularly.

Stems are strong but flowerheads are very heavy, so unless this perennial is planted next to a fence or some other sturdy structure, staking is highly recommended.

Plant delphinium with low-spreading perennials like dianthus or cranesbill for a pretty pastel pairing. Popular varieties include Bluebird, King Arthur, and Aurora Deep Purple. 

Peony

Close-up of Peony flowers that are large, showy, and pink in color. Their stems are thick and sturdy, allowing the cluster of flowers to stand upright. The leaves are deeply lobed and glossy green, with a slightly waxy texture.
Peonies are perennial plants that can survive for up to 50 years and thrive in areas with harsh winters.
botanical-name botanical name Paeonia spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, red, white, yellow
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2-7 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Although they can grow quite large and resemble a shrub, peonies are actually flowering perennial plants that thrive in regions with cold winters. And once established, a single plant can live for up to 50 years!

Each peony plant offers a bounty of big, beautiful blooms set against a deep green base that’s rounded and full. Flowers are heavy, especially when wet, so Wisconsin gardeners have learned to place hoop supports around them early in the growing season. 

Peonies like a lot of sun and need to be spaced properly to prevent powdery mildew. They can be expected to bloom off and on for a period of about six weeks.

Deadhead spent flowers once the cycle is complete by cutting stems off halfway down, and the foliage will remain attractive long into fall. For a dash of classic peony charm, add Sweet Marjorie, Paula Fay, or Scarlet O’Hara into your Wisconsin garden. 

Asiatic Lily

Close-up of Asiatic Lily flowers that are large, trumpet-shaped, and pink in color. The green leaves are long and narrow, with a slightly pointed tip.
Grow Asiatic lilies in well-drained soil that receives at least six hours of direct sunshine.
botanical-name botanical name Lilium spp.
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, white, yellow, red
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-4 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Asiatic lilies are the most cold-hardy type of lily and the easiest to grow, which makes them a favorite in Wisconsin landscapes. Blossoms are typically 4-5 inches wide and have petals that flex backward in a star shape. Some face upward on thick singular stems, while others droop downward on more delicate, multi-branched foliage. 

All have exposed throats and prominent stamens that either stand tall or hang down from the blooms’ centers. Plant Asiatic lilies in loamy, well-drained soil and make sure they get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Make sure roots are kept moist but never experience standing water. Be prepared to divide them every 3-4 years to prevent crowding and diminished flower production. Citronella, Blackout, and Fire King are a few varieties you’ll likely encounter in your local garden center.

Bee Balm

Close-up of Bee Balm with flowers that grow in dense clusters at the top of the stems and branches. Flowers are bright, showy, and pink in color. The leaves are lance-shaped and dark green in color.
Bee balm is a native perennial with tubular and arching petals in vivid hues.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, purple, red, white
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-4 feet tall and wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Extremely attractive to bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, bee balm is a native perennial with whimsical, fringy flowers in vivid hues of red, pink, purple, and white. Individual petals are tubular and arching, with prominent stamens. Leaves and stems are dark and dense with a pleasant scent and a firm, upright habit. 

Plant bee balm with sun-loving yellow perennials like coreopsis or Black-eyed Susan for a buzzing pollinator garden.

Once established, its rhizomatous roots will spread aggressively by clumping. Divide them every few years to keep them from crowding out nearby plants. Wisconsin favorites include Grape Gumball, Jacob Kline, and Blue Moon. 

Final Thoughts

Because many flowering plants require a period of true dormancy in order to return next season, Wisconsin is actually an ideal climate for perennial gardening. Plus, the agony of our long gray winters makes the arrival of our fast green springs so much sweeter. 

While most of the perennials we profiled here will grow well in Wisconsin with minimal fuss, gardeners in zone 3 will want to pay careful attention to zone recommendations before purchasing a plant to try at home. There are a few on the list that might not like your -35 degree temperatures! 

All perennials will require division every few years. Try not to think of this as a grueling maintenance task but rather one of the joys of gardening. When you notice crowding or diminished flowering on an established plant, divvy it up and share the wealth. Your friends and neighbors will think of you each time they go down the garden path. 

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Flowers

31 Self Seeding Perennial Flowers to Grow This Season

Do you have an area of your garden that you don’t know what to do with? Have you thought of adding some self-seeding perennials to that area so you don’t have to do much? If so, gardening expert Jill Drago offers 31 self-seeding perennial options for your gardens.

perennials neglect

Flowers

27 Flowering Perennials that Thrive With Neglect

Are you looking for some perennials that will thrive on a little neglect? There are plenty of options to choose from, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Kelli Klein shares some of her favorite perennial flowers that will grow just fine if you don't pay as much attention to them as you do other more high-maintenance plants.