What’s not to love about perennials? They’re easy to grow, come in an enormous variety of colors, shapes and sizes and reward you with beautiful blooms and foliage year after year.
But there’s one thing that stymies a lot of new gardeners… how do you manage to have flowers in your garden all year long?
Often we choose our plants because we like the way they look, but we don’t pay enough attention to other factors, like when they actually bloom. I know someone who has an amazing spring garden, but it looks kind of “meh” after the initial rush of blooms fade.
The trick to keeping your garden interesting all year long is to plant a wide variety of plants with different blooming times.
Even though Georgia’s winters are nothing like those of our northern neighbors, I still look forward to the arrival of new spring flowers! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Crocus are the first perennial to poke its head out of the winter garden, often blooming in late February or early March. They come in a variety of colors including white, yellow, orange, soft lilac and deep purple so will fit into any garden’s color scheme.
- Daffodils are another spring-flowering perennial that I look forward to every year. They are easy to grow and are a cheerful addition to any perennial spring garden. The only caveat is to make sure the variety you plant isn’t dependent on a long chilling period underground to bloom.
- Tulips are one of the most popular and easily recognized flowers in the world. There are thousands of varieties, and they’ll bloom anywhere from early March to April. Like most bulbs, they are easy to grow and will provide you with new blooms year after year.
The trick with bulbs is to resist the temptation to remove the leaves after the flowers are spent — bulbs need their leaves to photosynthesize so they have enough nutrients to flower again next year. All new spring-flowering bulbs are planted in the fall (make sure to chill them for 8-10 weeks in the fridge before planting)
There is no shortage of summer-blooming perennials, so the hard part is deciding which ones to plant! Here are some that will look gorgeous in your garden. Here are some proven winners:
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- Rock cress has delightful, vivid purple flowers that bloom in early summer. They are low-growing and mat-forming, making them perfect for spilling over rocks or as a ground cover.
- Coral bells have beautifully colored, semi-evergreen foliage with tiny, bell-shaped flowers atop high, slender stems. Although the flowers are pretty, it’s the foliage that makes these plants a real winner! You can find coral bells in a wide variety of spectacular colors.
- Dahlias are spiky, daisy-like flowers that add a lot of color and interest to your summer garden. Here in Georgia they are true perennials but they do need water and protection from the hot afternoon sun.
- Coreopsis, aka tickseed, is a herbaceous plant native to the southeastern states, including Georgia. Its cheerful flowers rise above narrow green leaves and will bloom from summer until frost.
Honestly, I could keep this list going forever… there really are no bad choices!
A lot of people consider fall to be their favorite season. The night air is cool and crisp and in Georgia it’s still warm enough to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping and, of course, gardening! Here are a few fall-blooming perennials to look forward to:
- Asters flower in Georgia from late summer to November and are a beautiful addition to a fall garden. Their daisy-like blossoms are a rich purple with yellow to orange centers. If you like them to be bushy and full, pinch the branches back two to three inches.
- Hardy mums are easy to grow and come in great traditional autumn colors of yellow, bronze, red, white, orange, burgundy and pink. There is an annual mum as well, but it is not meant to overwinter in a garden. The leaves of hardy mums are wider and more deeply notched that the leaves of annual mums.
- Sedum is a beautiful perennial that can bloom from summer until fall depending on the variety you choose. While both the clumping and creeping varieties are stunning, the creeping variety can turn a garden into a glorious carpet of color.
Not all perennials are grown for their flowers
When people think of planting gardens, they usually think of flowers… but there are plenty of perennials that can (and should!) be grown for their beautiful foliage. Here are a few every garden should have:
- Ferns are a beautiful addition to a shady spot in your garden
- Hostas do have lily-like flowers, but they’re primarily grown for their gorgeous and graceful foliage.
- Ornamental grasses provide a lot of interest and texture to your garden and look good all year round.
When you’re planning a permanent garden display, you should carefully consider the plants you choose. There are other factors to consider besides blooming time, such as height, water needs, the amount of sunlight a plant needs and the color of the plants.
It can all seem a bit overwhelming — so if you’re planning a new garden or you need to refurbish an existing garden, we’re here to help. Feel free to call, text or email us to chat about your project with one of our horticulture experts.