by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal
It’s frustrating to design a new flowerbed around your favorite perennial flowers, like delphiniums, Shasta daisies, and pincushion flower, only to see them peter out after three or four years. Here you have a list of perennial flowers notorious for their longevity. These are the bloomers you see in old neighborhoods, planted when the homes were first built and still blooming decades later. Plant these in June, and use the money you save in subsequent growing seasons for lush hanging baskets and container gardens. Here are the ‘Top 12’ perennials that live the longest you’ll find at Watters Garden Center, or references to buy them online.
Balloon flowers deliver that coveted shade of blue that blends well in any garden, without the finicky needs some blue flowers exhibit. These flowers endure a wide range of temperatures and conditions in full sun or partially shady gardens. Once settled in, balloon flowers rarely need dividing and don’t require deadheading. However, shearing may produce a second flush of blooms at the end of summer.
Black-eyed Susan – These plants thrive in full-sun containers and beds. Their yellow or rusty red flowers with black centers bloom summer through fall and attract birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects.
Butterfly Weed – Anyone who cares about the future of Monarch butterflies, plant this in their gardens. The desirable attributes awarded this butterfly weed the 2017 Plant of the Year. Bright orange flowers are both drought tolerant, disease and pest-free.
Daylily– Have you noticed wild clumps still growing on old homesteads? This gives you a clue to the tenacity of the versatile daylily. If you like orange hues, try a hybrid like the more civilized ‘Orange Crush.’ Or, branch out to many shades of the rainbow. Drought tolerant and nearly pest-free, some consider daylilies an essential part of any landscape.
Geranium – Unlike the annual geraniums found at Watters Garden Center, perennial geraniums are tough and return in Alaska and Siberia’s unforgiving climates. In addition to the delicate flowers, gardeners appreciate the ornamental foliage, which features divided leaves with dark-colored bands.
Helleboreor lenten rose fills two difficult niches: it thrives for year in shady spots and blooms well before the last frost has kissed the landscape. Newer cultivars found at the garden center are bigger and brighter. ‘Pink Frost’ is notable for its large and upward-facing flowers
Iris– Include a selection of these easy perennials in your deer-resistant garden for late spring to early summer blooms. Although not invasive, irises do need dividing every few years to maintain vigor. Share a few rhizomes with friends, so they can enjoy the same knee-high flower spikes in their gardens.
Liatris– You may have noticed the fluffy stems of Liatris in your cut flower arrangements and wondered where this exotic flower came from. This North American wildflower grows on grasslands, nourishing butterflies and bees with nectar-rich flowers that bloom from the top down.
Lungwort (Pulmonaria) is often blooming before other perennials have emerged from the garden. Petite white, pink, and blue flowers complement the highly ornamental foliage with interesting white freckles. Give it ample moisture, rich soil, and watch a few plants multiply into a dozen over the seasons in your woodland garden.
Sedums are so tough they survive such insults as being rudely yanked from the garden and replanted by a toddler with a shovel. Plump, succulent foliage contributes to the vigor of sedum, retaining moisture during periods of drought. Sedums like the popular ‘Autumn Joy’ or the dramatic ‘Bronze Carpet’ attract pollinators and thrive in mountain clay.
Sunset Blanket Flower – Perpetual, vibrant red flowers do not fade in the summer heat. Blooms from late spring right until frost if spent blooms are deadheaded regularly. It is showy and easy to grow in addition to sunny beds, borders, and container gardens that are both deer and javelina proof.
Until the next week, I’ll be helping gardeners choose the prettiest flowers here at Watters Garden Center.