Perennials are those flowering plants that die back to the ground in the winter and then reappear in the spring. They come in a lot of different sizes and shapes and are a popular addition to any garden. They are particularly popular because, unlike annuals, you buy them once and have them for years and years. Also unlike annuals, most perennials don’t bloom through the entire season. Most only flower for a few weeks, but with careful planning you can still have a garden of color from spring through fall.
There are several things to consider as you choose your plants. The first is growing zone, or the designation of the area you live in that indicates the best chance for the plant to survive. Ontario is a large province and that zone area may vary depending on where you live. The second is light. Determine how much sun the plant needs or can tolerate. Mixing shade loving plants and those that need lots of sun is a poor choice. The third critical element is water. Again, mixing plants that like dry feet with those that need their roots fairly wet is less likely successful scenario.
Lenten Rose Hellebore (H. orientalis) is one of the earliest bloomers. Sometimes you will see them peeking through the snow as early as March. Since Lent usually incorporates most of March and part of April, the name signifies the hellebore’s bloom period. Varieties now include a variety of shades from white and pastels to very dark. The foliage lives on after the blooms die out. They like some shade with a bit of morning sun and can easily deal with the dry summer months. Leave the dead growth over winter to protect the crowns that will reproduce the following year. They are hardy in zones 4 through 9, but each species may vary its tolerance.
Thread-leaved Moonbeam Coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) pops up in late spring but doesn’t bloom until June and lasts until September. It has pale yellow flowers and like its name indicates has leaves that look like threads. It can handle a lot of soil types and is hardy to zone 4. Every few years you will need to divide the plants to prevent overgrowth.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) like full sun, but can handle a bit of shade. They attract birds and butterflies and their seeds keep birds fed in the winter. They bloom from July to September but that can be stretched a bit if you don’t mind deadheading.
Frikart’s Aster (aster x frikartii) is a hybrid developed to bloom from July to October. It sports large flowers that look like daisies. It is only hardy to zone 5 but can take full sun. Make sure you pinch it back in May and the plant will stay nice and tight and the pinching will promote more blooms.
Boneset (eupatorium rugosum) won’t start to bloom until late September but will keep producing its white flowers until November. The rest of the season it has purplish foliage. It is hardy to zone 5.
Don’t discount any old standbys like roses, irises, peonies, and hydrangeas. They need little care but can still give you a lovely garden. Always a good choice are plants that are native to your locale. There are groups (native plant societies) that will be happy to make recommendations and care instructions. Many natives are also attractive to pollinators which make them beneficial to the surroundings. Check out https://can-plant.ca/to learn more.
If you’d like any more information on how to make your garden stand out this year, please contact our team today.