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Perennials Part 1: Awesome Sun & Shade Perennials

Hello y'all!

Who here loves perennials? Let's see your hands! If you love perennials, you probably already have most or all of these mentioned in today's post! This post written today is more for you out there who may be newer to gardening and want to know basic, time-tested, gorgeous perennials (perenni-who? We will explain the difference in perennials a annuals below!) to add to a new or existing gardening bed.

This post is 1 of 3 blog posts in which we will talk about:

1) perennials to have

2) basic landscaping ideas to help you layout a perennial bed

3) long term care of perennials

This is gonna be fun! Let's get this perennial part-ay started!

What are perennials?

Plants are typically classified as either annual or perennial. Annual flowers are those which you have to plant annually (an easy way to remember); they will not come back for you year after year because when frost comes, they will die (or, in the case of annual Pansies and Violas- cool weather annuals- when hot weather comes, they will die).

Perennials come back year after year, and many times grow a bit larger each year until they reach their mature size. Each year they may also provide more blooms.

A big difference between annuals and perennials (besides what we've already mentioned) is that annuals will provide you all season color- literally ALL Summer (for example). Perennials will typically have flushes of blooms, with vibrant color happening a lot, but not literally practically every day, like annuals will. It is common to see gardens mixed with both annuals and perennials, with many times having the annuals up front where their constant blooms can be appreciated.

So aren't trees and shrubs perennials?

Yes, technically, but usually gardeners are referring to herbaceous perennials when we use the term perennial. Herbaceous perennials typically die back in the Fall and Winter some or completely, only to come back again in the Spring, whereas trees, shrubs, and vines (or woody plants) are there year round, although they may lose their leaves in Winter, and resume growth in Spring.

So, with definitions behind us now, we're on to the fun stuff- perennials you will want to know about to add to your garden! There are SO MANY amazing perennials for our area- too many to list out in one post- and it was difficult to narrow it down to these! The perennials listed below are proven, wonderful plants who have tons of blooms, add lots of interest, and most all are quite easy to care for.

(Clockwise left to right, from top: Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Sedum, Joe Pyweed, Catmint, Creeping Jenny, Daylily, Salvia, Shasta Daisy, Lamb's Ear)

Sun Perennials You'll Wanna Have:

  1. Coneflower: Bright, colorful flowers all Summer and into early Fall! Many colors & double blooms available also!

  2. Black Eyed Susan: Blooms strongly from mid-Summer into Fall! Beautiful grouped together!

  3. Sedum 'Autumn Fire' or 'Autumn Joy': Beautiful textured leaves and adds such color in Fall.

  4. Joe Pyweed: Butterflies and Hummingbirds love! Gets tall- plant it near the back of your perennial garden.

  5. Catmint: Blows in the wind with wispy, lavender blooms. If you love lavender but have trouble growing it, this will give a similar look (but alas, not the heavenly smell)!

  6. Creeping Jenny: An amazing, lime groundcover perennial that doesn't take over. Plant it in the front of your garden, cascading over rocks or brick pavers. Also looks great spilling out of a pot!

  7. Daylilies: So many beautiful colors to choose from- the one that blooms the most is hands down 'Stella d' Oro'- a goldish yellow bloom.

  8. Salvia: Pictured above is 'May Night'- known for its deep, bluish purple. Butterfly attractor!

  9. Shasta Daisy: Who doesn't love daisies? The varieties 'Becky' and 'Snowcap' bloom profusely all Summer!

  10. Lamb's Ear: Lamb's Ear is all about the foliage. The leaves feel fuzzy- hence its name. Kids love Lamb's Ear for its texture- plant it where they can enjoy its fun feel!

(Clockwise left to right, from top: Hosta, Coral Bell, Japanese Painted Fern, Astilbe, Lenten Rose, Bleeding Heart, Jack Frost, Solomon's Seal)

Shade Perennials You'll Wanna Look for:

  1. Hosta: Hostas come in a variety of shades and sizes these days! Varieties with variegated leaves are one of my personal faves!

  2. Coral Bell: I cannot hide my love for this plant. Heuchera comes in so many different colors and they brighten up any shade garden with their brilliant hues.

  3. Japanese Painted Fern: This fern is breathtaking in person. It does require pretty heavy shade and a good amount of moisture.

  4. Astilbe: Bright colored flowers in late Spring! Deer tolerant, and does best in part to full shade.

  5. Lenten Roses: These beauties bloom in Winter when not much else is! Adding these to your shade garden will help give you interest year round.

  6. Bleeding Heart: In Spring, these plants produce gorgeous little heart shaped flowers! I have one planted in my shade garden and it is always a joy to see covered in blooms in April.

  7. Jack Frost: Such pretty, variegated silver and green leaves cover Brunnera. It adds a lot of interest in a shadier spot in your garden.

  8. Solomon's Seal: This beauty also sports variegated leaves and delicate little greenish white blooms. It multiples each year, which just means more and more blooms for you!

Which perennials do you think should also be added to these lists? Share with us below!

In our next blog post, we will lay out part 2 where we will talk about basic landscape tips to layout a perennial bed. Stay tuned and, as always, feel free to ask us any questions below!

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