I was teaching a garden design class last week and several of the students were totally new to gardening in Connecticut. A few had moved here to Connecticut from overseas and a few had recently purchased their first house and were starting their first gardens. They all wanted to know which perennials would be easiest to grow and would flower for a long time.
So, for any newbie gardener, whether you garden in Connecticut or someplace a bit farther afield, here are 5 perennials that are easy to grow and will make you feel like a gardening success.
All of these perennials will look best in your garden if you plant them in groups of three or more.
Baptisia australis (False indigo)
◊ Baptisia australis is a North American native that, when mature, it really the size of a small bush.
◊ Plant in full sun and well-draining soil.
◊ False indigo has a long taproot which means it is drought tolerant once established but it also means it doesn’t like to be moved.
◊ Flowers in late Spring.
◊ Insect and deer resistant.
◊ Baptisia grows to about 36″ tall. Plant them in the back of a mixed border.
◊ Leave the spent flowers on the plant so the seedpods can develop. They eventually turn black and give the plant a whole new look.
◊ There are several new cultivars with flowers that are white, smoky purple, orange or yellow. Personally I love the violet flowers of the species but it’s nice to know there are options available.
◊ Hardy in zones 3 – 9.
Coreopsis verticillata (Tickseed)
◊ Plant in full sun to partial shade. You’ll get more flowers with more sun.
◊ Coreopsis prefer well-drained soil although some do tolerate dry, lean soil. They don’t like to have wet feet, especially in the winter.
◊ Flowers from early summer through fall. You can find coreopsis with flowers that are yellow, white, pink, peach, red, …
◊ There are many varieties and cultivars available but most grow to about 18″ – 24″ tall. Plant coreopsis in the front or middle of a flower border.
◊ They attract butterflies and bees and are deer resistant.
◊ Hardy in zones 3 – 8 (hardiness may vary depending on the cultivar).
Echinacea purpurea (Purple cone flower)
◊ Drought tolerant once established (after the first year or two).
◊ Plant in full sun in a spot with well-draining soil. Wet or soggy soil can kill cone flowers.
◊ Flowers from mid-summer through fall.
◊ There are many, many, many cultivars of coneflowers available with a rainbow of flower colors – from white to magenta to green to orange. Many of these new cultivars can be finicky to grow. Do yourself a favor and stick with the species (Echinacea purpurea), it will be much easier to grow.
◊ Purple cone flower grows to about 30″ tall. Plant in the middle of a mixed border.
◊ Leave the spent flowers on the plant through the fall and winter. You’ll be amazed at the birds to visit to fee on the seeds.
◊ Hardy in zones 4 – 8.
◊ Violet blue flowers from May – October and red fall foliage make ‘Rozanne’ a great plant for adding several seasons of interest to your garden.
◊ Plant in full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
◊ ‘Rozanne’ grows to 18″ and 30″ wide. She is ideal for the front of your border.
◊ I find deer leave ‘Rozanne’ alone in my garden but they do seem to like some of my other perennial geraniums, so keep that in mind.
◊ Hardy in zones 5 – 8.
Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
◊ Bright yellow flowers from late summer into fall.
◊ This North American native perennial is another bee and butterfly favorite.
◊ Use black-eyed Susan in the middle of your border since she generally grows to about 36″ tall.
◊ Grow in full sun and well-draining soil.
◊ Not reliably deer-resistant but the rabbits do seem to leave it alone.
◊ Hardy in zones 3 – 8.
Which perennials top your ‘easy-to-grow’ list?