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Perennial Landscape Design

What are perennials?

Perennials are plants that live for more than two years; they die in the fall and grow back again in the spring because their roots survive the winter. Flowering perennials are typically herbaceous plants – non-woody. Trees and shrubs are also technically perennials – woody. Once planted, perennials typically require minimal upkeep in the form of water and fertilizing, since their roots spread out. Many perennials also spread out above ground, filling garden spaces and adding more color as they grow larger each year.

How can they be used?

Low-growing perennials are great ground covers, meaning, if you have a large space to fill in, then you might want to choose them in your landscape design. Perennials are also great for areas that are difficult to get to in your yard in order to maintain.

Selecting Perennials

Perennials are typically selected based on light requirements, height, spread, and bloom period. Additional characteristics to consider are: leaf color and texture and fall color.

Quick Reference for the Goals of Your Landscape:

Perennials to Attract Hummingbirds

Milkweed (Asclepias)

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

Hosta (Hosta)

Iris (Iris)

Lily (Lilium)

Perennial Sage (Salvia)

Perennials with Exceptional Foliage

Wormwood (Artemisia)



Hosta (Hosta)

Lamb’s Ears or Betony (Stachys)

Variegated Creeping Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’)

Goldenray (Ligularia)

Rain Garden Perennials

Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium)

Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)

Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea)

False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana)

Ironweed (Vernonia)

Perennials with Extended Blooming Periods

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Yarrow (Achillea)

False Forget-Me-Not (Brunnera macrophylla)

Carpathian Bellflower (Campanula carpatica)

Tickseed (Coreopsis)

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum – Superbum Group)