Just as the monarch butterflies grace our presence each year during their seasonal visits, so do the various blooms of perennials. One plant or bulb can produce years or even decades of visual and aromatic joy as well as food for pollinators.
We’ve come up with a few favorites for each season. With just a little bit of pruning, deadheading and mulch, you’ll have year-round color, save money and have a bit less yard maintenance to tend to. Depending on the weather, some flowers may bloom earlier or later than expected.
Bulbs- Unless planted close to pines, cedars, thick hedges or structures that create shade, most bulbs will get enough sunlight in early spring no matter where they are to bloom. It is best to plant them in late Autumn.
Crocus, and hyacinths- bloom in early spring. Daffodils are usually in bloom in March and naturally ward off deer. Tulips typically bloom late March / Early April and offer an extremely wide variety of colors to choose from. Peonies not only have an amazing smell and large gorgeous flower, they can live up to 100 years! Don’t worry about the ants in the flowers- that is how the peony is pollinated.
Roses and trees such as magnolias, redbuds and flowering dogwood bring beautiful arrays of pinks, whites and purples to compliment the bright green grass that creates a visual end to winters slumber. Roses will need to be planted in a sunny location with good drainage. Depending on the type of rose you may get one amazing bloom late spring, or have consistent blooms all throughout the summer.
Bulbs- Canna Lilies are tall and create bright vibrant tropical colored flowers such as red, pink and yellow. They should be planted mid to late May and require full sun. It is best to dig these up at the end of the season and store them in a cool dry place in a paper bag. Some winters are mild enough that they will survive, however it only takes one serious cold spell to destroy the bulbs if left outside in the ground.
Native flowers such as wild purple Cone Flowers (Echinacea) are also a fantastic choice. Not only do they create a native flower scene in your own yard, they are also all extremely beneficial to pollinators. As with all perennials bear in mind how large your plants will get in future years before you plant them. Native wildflowers can fill in about as much space as you give them within a few years.
Domestic sunflowers can be planted by seed mid to late spring and tend to bloom in mid to late summer. Most sunflowers will grow upwards of three feet tall so be sure to plant them in an area that won’t shade other plants. Lavender, (not the easiest to grow, but great for pollinators) tropical lilies, and hardy hibiscus and hydrangeas also provide fantastic perennial summer blooms. Did you know the blue or pink color of hydrangea flowers is dependent upon the pH level of your soil? Blue flowers appear when soil is low in pH (acidic) and pink flowers appear when soil is high in pH (alkaline). Note that not all plants that are labeled as perennials or hardy will make it through our often cold winters. You’ll want to do a little bit of research to find the specific types of plants for our region (zone 6) that are the most likely to come back next year before you go shopping.
Many non-hardy plants such as tropical hibiscus trees, lemon trees and aloe can be kept indoors during the winter and taken outside during summer months.
Though often mistaken for ragweed, goldenrod adds glorious autumn color to the waning landscape. There are many species of goldenrod, most of which are native to North America. As this plant is naturally at home in our climate and soil, be sure you love the idea of goldenrod before introducing it into your yard as it will likely do quite well and spread. Chrysanthemums and also an obvious autumn winner. Often popular for planting in pots, if you transplant them into the ground before the first freeze they should come back year after year. Mums do best in full sun with well draining soil. They will need consistent watering after planting as they dry out easily.
When mother nature seems to take to slumber, color can still be found even on cloudy snowy days. Though not the season for flowers, shrubs can provide bits of bright color and food for visiting birds well into winter. Dogwoods, hollies and winterberries are all wonderful options to add splashes of reds, blues and yellows to they grayest of days. Although we think of spring as the time for planting everything, autumn is the best time for planting shrubs and trees giving you all summer long to decide exactly what bits of winter color you want.
Happy growing all year long!