Perennials, common name listing:
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Daphne: (Daphne x Burwoodii) Full sun to part shade Zones 3-9. Daphne are actually shrubs, but are commonly used in the Northern perennial gardens because of their small stature. They typically have lovely foliage and fragrant blooms. Daphne needs moist, well drained soil and prefer a neutral pH. ‘Carol Macki’ is a 3-4 foot variegated evergreen with a dense rounded habit. The leaves have striking cream/gold margins. It has fragrant, star shaped pink flowers, appearing in May and June. ‘Carol Macki’ is hardy to zone 3. ‘Briggs Moonlight’ is a 2’ shrub, also variegated with fragrant pale pink blooms in early summer. The striking semi-evergreen leaves are creamy yellow with narrow green margins. Pale pink blooms are produced in early summer. This one is also hardy to zone 4, and will benefit from some shade further south.
Daylilies: (Hemerocallis) Full sun to part shade Hardy in zones 3-9. Here’s an old fashioned, super hardy favorite that just keeps getting better and better. Evergreen varieties are hardy to zone 4, all others easily to zone 3. They are easy to grow in good well drained soil, but is very tolerant of neglect, heat and dry conditions, and even poor soil Daylily does not do well id soil is perpetually wet, and prefers full sun or some shade. A full day of sun will produce the most blooms. Only reblooming varieties need to be deadheaded. the bright and cheery ‘Stella de Oro’ has become a staple in gardens and landscapes. A little fertilizer in spring and fall is all they need, but will manage fine if you forget. Do not remove leaves until completely brown, or wait until spring. Divide clumps in spring or fall, every 2 or 3 years.
Delphinium: Full sun Hardy in zones 3-7. Striking spires of vivid blue or white flowers. Results in the garden can vary. They are billed as deer resistant, long living, long blooming and with strong stalks. In some cases, all is true. In some cases they are rapidly devoured by deer, live as little as 2 years, bloom a few to several weeks, and again if cut back after the first bloom, and are lying on your garden floor after a good rain. These are such gorgeous plants it is well worth the search for the one that will thrive and stand strong in your garden (try ‘delphinium elatum’ instead of ‘Pacific Giant’). Plant in a sunny spot, sheltered from wind may help, and in good, organically enriched soil Then, feed them heavily up to bloom time, and again after cut back. Divide every 2 to 4 years to preserve it’s health. Protect from deer if necessary. Some varieties hardy to zones 3 and 4. more info...
Ferns: Part to full shade, some in full sun Hardy in zones 3-9. There are hundreds of species of hardy ferns. Ferns can add light and airy texture and color to your shade garden. Foliage in silvery whites to bright limes add easy color to an otherwise dark spot. They prefer well drained, organic soil, slightly acidic. Mulching will help maintain a consistent moisture.
Japanese Painted (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum”) is variegated, touched with white and burgundy. Pest and disease free, it is hardy in zones 3-8.
Maidenhair (Adiantum spp,) has a fine feathery appearance.
Foamflower: (Tiarella) Shade to part shade Hardy in zones 4-9. Very interesting low grower with a variety of foliage colors and textures. All have fragrant flowering spikes of white or pink in spring or summer. They are easy to grow and tolerant of heat, drought, humidity and poor soil Makes a nice ground cover for shade. Check shade and sun preference for each variety. Winter protection suggested in zone 4.
Fritillaria Imperialis: Full sun to part shade Hardy in zones 4-8. This unusual Mediterranean bulb is not grown for its’ fragrance, which is reminiscent of rotten eggs. It is sometimes known as the “mole plant”, the foul smell is rumored to drive away moles. However the blooms are striking and very unusual. The plant will tolerate hot dry conditions as well as winter. Do provide it with good drainage, for that reason it does not like clay soil. Be sure to plant this as soon as you get it home, as it will be growing in it’s package, and handle gently when planting so as not to damage the roots. Plant the bottom of the bulb 6 to 8 inches deep, and at lease 10 to 12 inches apart. Fritiallaria prefers full sun, but will tolerate light shade further south. Reaches 3 feet tall and blooms in early spring.
Gaillardia (blanket flower): Full sun Hardy in zones 3-10. This is a tough, hardy perennial with daisy-like flowers and makes a great cutting flower. Blooms from June through September. It tolerates drought and poor soil and is deer resistant. Deadhead religiously to prevent prolific self seeding. Grows to 12-15” in nice bunches. Some gaillarida are annuals. more info...
Geranium, hardy: (Crane’s bill) Sun to part shade Hardy in zones 3-8. This is not the hothouse annual! There are many cultivars, all have mounded foliage with cup shaped flowers. Most are long bloomers, some self seed (watch for tiny plants to pop up, to either remove or plant elsewhere). Full sun is preferred but some can tolerate light shade, especially further south. The cultivar Rozanne is very tolerant of heat and humidity and has one of the longest bloom season of the Crane’s bills. It is also very compact, making it a great choice for containers and garden borders. Winter protection is suggested in zones 3 and 4, use 3-4 inches of mulch. more info...
Hollyhocks: (Alcea Rosea) Full sun Hardy in zones 3-7. Most are actually self seeding biennials rather than a true perennial, so they should be grown in an informal bed where precise placement is irrelevant. These hardy, old fashioned, striking plants seem to have fallen from favor in the modern garden. They are prolific bloomers all summer. They prefer well drained neutral soil. The 5-8 foot plants are best grown along a high fence or in a protected location so they don’t need to be staked. Some are hardy to zone 2. more info...
Hosta: Part to full shade Hardy in zones 3-7. Where to begin? There is such a large variety, over seventy species with hundreds of cross breeds, and with a broad range of hardiness. They are easy to grow and provide a variety of foliage colors and textures for the shade garden. Tall stems shoot up in late spring to support lily-like flowers of white or shades of blue. Propagate by division in fall.
Iberis: (Candytuft) Sun to light shade Hardy in zones 3-9. Blanketed in white blooms, candytuft blooms tirelessly over a long spring season. The foliage spreads creating a lovely mounded plant when not in bloom. ‘Purity’ is a low growing, evergreen ground cover, about 8-10” high, and is hardy to zone 3. It prefers moderately rich soil and plenty of water. Do not move the plant once established. Candytuft makes a great fragrant cut flower. Not all Candytuft is perennial!
Iris: Full sun to part shade Hardy in zones 3-9. There is an iris for every garden. Over 200 species offer just about unlimited choices for color, sun or light shade, dry soil or water garden, dainty or bold. When not in bloom, the spiky foliage is a nice contrast to leafy plants in the garden. For a dramatic look, plant your iris in groups of 3 to 7 of the same variety 18-24” apart, and with the leaf fans all in one direction. Don’t count on re-blooming varieties to actually re-bloom in the north, but deadheading will help. Also apply a light dose of fertilizer after the first bloom is finished, and water well during summer dry spells. New fans will appear, and if your growing season is long enough with a warm autumn, the flower spikes may develop and appear. Where the weather cooperates in zones 5 and warmer, re-bloom is in late summer or fall. In zones 3 and 4, plant re-bloomers in a sheltered sunny spot may encourage re-blooming. Dig up and divide every few years in the fall to keep healthy. Iris prefer a near neutral pH and well drained soil. Over watering may cause the rhizomes to rot, and wet periods may cause leaf spot fungus. Spray with a copper based fungicide to control. If you had trouble with iris borers, after the first hard frost, clean up all old iris plant material and burn or dispose of it. You may want to apply an insecticide in spring when the plants are about 4 inches high if you have had a persistent problem. Use Demethoate, and apply again in 14 days.
Lady’s Mantle: (Alchemmilla) Part shade to full sun Zones 3-7. Lady’s Mantle has large gray-green leaves with dainty star shaped yellow-green flower clusters in early summer to early fall. Northern gardeners should plant in full sun, and protect with mulch in zone 3. Drought tolerant. more info...
Lavender: (Lavandula) Full sun Hardy in zones 5-9. The “true” or common English lavender is the species angustifolia, but there are many others that are similar in the family. A highly fragrant, hardy native perennial that is very drought tolerant. The plants are rather shrubby but compact, with silvery green foliage and slender flower spikes of blue or purples in summer. Many are only hardy to zones 6 or 7. These “true” lavenders are the sweetest smelling of the lavenders. Lavandula stems are used as herbs, dried flowers are used as potpourri and as medicinal teas, and oils are used in aromatherapy. All prefer full sun and dry soil, and are heat and drought resistant. The fragrant flowers attract butterflies and are excellent for cut and dried arrangements. Harvest the blooms when in fresh bud and dry by hanging in a warm shady place.
‘Hidcote’ is a dwarf variety of common Lavender, and is considered one of the hardiest of the English Lavenders. The flower spikes are a bright, but dark purple. It is the deepest shade of nearly navy blue of all the lavenders, and contrasts beautifully with the silvery foliage. Blooming begins in June and continues through August. The leaves and the blooms are highly aromatic. ‘Hidcote’ lavendar needs full sun most of the day. It requires little attention, is drought tolerant, and will tolerate dry soil. It does, however, prefer moist but well drained soil. Overly moist soil may lead to root rot. Little or no fertilizing is required. Sheer back by about a third either after blooming or in early spring while it is still dormant. ‘Hidcote will reach 1 - 1/2 feet tall with an equal spread. The non-dwarf variety is ‘Hidcote Giant’. Hardy in zones 5 - 8, but zone 5 winters may stress the plant. Plant in a sheltered spot or winter protect.
‘Blue Cushion’ is a spectacular dwarf with free flowering, deep “true blue” blooms from early to late summer. The flowers fade to light blue and then to gray. The nicely mounded plant grows to 16” high and spreads 16 - 24”. ‘Blue Cushion’ prefers light sandy soil that is slightly alkaline. Grow in full sun to light shade. It is drought resistant and requires very little water or fertilizer. Sheer spent blooms or cut back by one third and prune to shape after blooming or in very early spring while still dormant to refresh the plant. The foliage is evergreen in warmer climates, so you may prefer to wait until spring to sheer back. Hardy in zones 5 - 8.
‘Munstead’ is a very popular compact lavender with slightly lighter blooms than ‘Hidcote’. The lavender blue blooms appear early, usually in May, and continue through August. Removing faded blooms with encourage continued blooming. ‘Munstead’ lavender is of course heat and drought tolerant, but will be somewhat tolerant of humidity. However, it does prefer dry conditions so plant in full sun in warm dry soil. ‘Munstead’ is semi-woody and grows to 12 - 18” tall with a similar spread. The gray green foliage is evergreen in warmer climates. It’s short and compact size makes it a nice selection for a hedge. Attracts bees and butterflies. Hardy in zones 5b -9.
‘Grosso’ is a Lavandula intermedia’ which is a French hybrid Lavender, not an English. It may also be known as ‘Lavandin’. ‘Grosso’ is very long stemmed with the darkest blue purple blooms of the French Lavenders. A vigorous bloomer, the flowers are strongly lavender scented with a hint of camphor, blooming in June through August. For dried arrangements, ‘Grosso’ is one of the best, and it is a major source of French lavender oils. Also a beautiful addition to bouquets. Like the English Lavenders, ‘Grosso’ is tolerant of drought, heat and poor soil, prefers full sun and dry well drained, neutral to alkaline soil. Plant in full sun. This large lavender grows to 30” high and spreads 24 - 30”. To keep its size controlled, prune when blooming is finished. It is one of the most cold tolerant of the French lavenders, being hardy in zones 5 - 10. Foliage is evergreen in the warmer regions.
‘Rosea’ is also known as ‘Loddon Pink’ or ‘Jean Davis’. It has soft pink blooms that combine with the silvery green foliage for a romantic effect. Bloom period is from June to July or August. ‘Rosea’ has a tidy growth habit with dense foliage. It shears well into a tighter mound or sphere if desired. Cut back spent blooms to refresh the plant and encourage blooming. Cutting flower stalks for drying or for arrangements produces the same result. This medium size English Lavender reaches about 15 -24” high and spreads 12 - 15”. Plant in full sun in well drained, dry soil. ‘Rosea’ is very appealing grown with roses. Attracts bees and butterflies. Hardy in zones 5 - 8.
Lenten rose, or Hellebore: Helleborus) Shade to part shade Zones 3-9. This shade loving perennial is a very early bloomer with flowers of pink, white or red. They demand moist conditions with enriched, well drained soil. Winter protection is recommended in zone 4, heavy protection in zone 3. The evergreen leaves are known to sunscald in winter, so complete plant coverage with mulch, leaves, and or snow is advised. The true Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis, is only truly hardy to zone 9.
Helleborus niger (the Christmas Rose) is hardy to zone 3 with winter protection. It is a very early bloomer, but in norther climates not actually Christmas. There is actually a storey behind the Christmas Rose name, I’ll let you look that one up yourself. But may bloom before the snow is gone until early spring.
Lily of the Valley: Convaflaria majatis) Part shade to shade Zones 2-7. A classic perennial that is a highly useful groundcover for shade. The sweet scented lily of the valley produces masses of bright white bells, brightening a shady spot. easy to care for, long lived, and spreads readily. ‘Bordeaux is improved, with more and larger blooms dandling above the foliage, rather than among it. ‘Bordeaux’ is also hardy to zone 2.
Lungwort: (Pulmonaria spp.) Part shade to shade Hardy in zones 3-7. Lungwort is easy to grow, and perfect in a low light bed. They spread slowly to form a ground cover but is never aggressive. Plant in rich soil with organic matter in a spot that stays moist but not wet. Bright blooms of pink, blue or white appear in April and May. After blooming, cut off old leaves so fresh leaves are produced for the rest of the season. Plants tend to be slug resistant, disease resistant and deer resistant. Feed in early spring as soon as the flowering has stopped and twice more during the summer to keep the plant vigorous. Lungwort is dependable and easy to grow, requiring very little care. Divide in fall every 3 - 5 years to keep lungwort healthy.
‘Mrs. Moon’ is also known as Bethlehem Sage. Bright pink buds mature to blue beginning in early spring through spring. The 12” long green leaves have dappled silver spots. A mounding growth habit spreads slowly to make a gorgeous ground cover that is not aggressive. The plant does best in part shade, but will tolerate mostly sun to mostly shade. Leaf coloring will be most intense when they receive around 2 hours of morning sun. Will tolerate clay soil and does not like dry soil, preferring rich, well drained soil that is cool and moist. The plant may go dormant in drought periods. ‘Mrs. Moon’ grows to about 12” high and spreads 12 - 18”. Hardy to zones 3 - 8. more info...
‘Sissinghurst White’ has clear white blooms that emerge from pink buds and then mature again to pink. The bloom clusters are drooping and borne on short stalks above the foliage. Silvery spotted leaves are long and oval forming a neat mound. The plant grows to about 12’ tall with a spread of up to 20” wide. ‘Sissinghurst White’ does not like too much sun or for its soil to dry out. Rich, well drained soil that is cool and moist is best, but it will tolerate clay. It prefers part to full shade. In mild climates the leaves are semi-evergreen, retaining some color through winter. Hardy in zones 3 - 8. more info...
‘Trevi Fountain’ produces spectacular cobalt blue blooms in spring. The long slender leaves are simply loaded with silver spots. ‘Trevi Fountain’ is more tolerant of heat and humidity than most of the pulmonaria, but does love a moist shady place in the garden. In mild climates the leaves are semi-evergreen, retaining some color through winter. The plant grows up to 12” high and spread to 1 1/1 - 2 feet. Hardy in zones 4 - 9. more info...
Mallow: (Malva) Full sun to part shade hardy in zones 3-8. Mallow grows quickly and requires very little attention. It blooms floriferously and repeatedly in pale pinks, white or blue. The masses of blooms persist from early summer to early fall. Generally only hardy to zones 4 or 5, but may be hardy in zones 3 or 4 when heavily protected and planted in a sheltered, warm winter spot.
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