7 Best Perennial Flowers

Written by Crystal
Updated: February 24, 2023
© iStock.com/db_beyer
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Key Points:

  • Perennial flowers are plants that live for more than two years and bloom annually. They have a life cycle that allows them to grow, flower, and reproduce over several seasons.
  • Perennial flowers come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Some popular perennial flowers include peonies, daylilies, daisies, and tulips.
  • Perennial flowers are known for their resilience and ability to adapt to a wide range of growing conditions. They can be grown in various climates and soils and require less maintenance than annual flowers.

What are the best perennial flowers for your garden?

Choosing the right plant all comes down to where it’ll be sitting, the care it needs, and its purpose. Perennials are non-woody plants that can live for two or more years.

Some are evergreen and can survive the winter months; others are herbaceous, dying in the fall. With careful selection, you can use perennials to create borders throughout the seasons.

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Let’s look at the best perennial flowers for the summer season.

1. Fireweed

best perennial flowers
Blooming fireweed can make a great addition to a wild garden!

©iStock.com/Olga Rodina

First, on our list of the best perennial flowers, we have fireweed. (Epilobium Angustifolium album/Chamaenerion angustifolium). It’s also known as great willowherb or rosebay willowherb. This is a vigorous, upright spreading perennial in the evening primrose family. It has small, 4 petaled flowers with long erect spires. This plant blooms in the late summer. The flowers are most deep pink or rose-colored and rarely white. The leaves have a narrow, lance shape and wavy edges with dark green colors.

The native habitat for fireweed is woodland edges, waste ground, and roadsides. The plant originates from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The best cultivation involves growing this plant in moist, well-drained soil. It also requires partial sun or shade. It’s the perfect perennial if you’re designing a wild garden!

When plants switch from vegetative growth to flowering, a major change happens in the shoot apex. The transition happens once in annuals and repeatedly in perennials. That’s why there are multiple propagation opportunities. Overall, propagation works best with softwood cuttings of the side shoots during the spring. It’s a great plant for zones 3-7 and reaches a height of four to five feet. Finally, the spread is 20 inches or more.

2. Woodland Tobacco

best perennial flowers
Blossoms of woodland tobacco are often incorporated into gardens as ornamental plants.

©iStock.com/jojoo64

This perennial species is a tall, erect flower that grows in the wild. It has large, white flowers with long petals and greenish-yellow throats. The native habitat for woodland tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris) is woods and thickets.

The plant originates from Argentina. It’s a shade-tolerant plant that can grow as an annual. It does best in areas with shelter, so you can appreciate its strong fragrance.

Propagation works best with seeds sown indoors in late winter or early spring. It’s a great plant for zones 9-10 and has a height of five feet or taller. The spread is typically 30 inches.

3. Coulter’s Matilija Poppy

best perennial flowers
Matilija Poppy Flowers are vibrant in the sun! They love full sun and well-drained soil.

©iStock.com/David P. Hilss

Another vigorous, woody-based perennial that’s also rhizomatous is Coulter’s Matilija Poppy or the California tree poppy (Romneya Coulteriis). A rhizomatous perennial, it’s one that has an underground horizontal stem that sends out vertical shoots and roots at intervals. This allows the plant to quickly spread and fill in an area. Coulter’s Matilija poppy has beautiful white flowers with yellow centers that can reach up to eight inches in diameter!

The native habitat for this plant is chaparral and hillsides. It originates from California but can now be found in the foothills of Mexico. This flowering plant requires full sun and well-drained soil. It also does best in a sheltered sight.

If it’s in a cold area, Romneya Coulteri requires dry mulch during the winter season. The mulch helps resents transplanting.

Propagation is typically done by seed. You can also take root cuttings taken from young plants. It’s a great plant for zones 8-10 and reaches a height of four to six feet with a six-foot spread.

4. Greater Sea Kale

best perennial flowers
Greater sea kale, Crambe cordifolia, has delicate white flowers.

©COULANGES/Shutterstock.com

Enjoy one of the best perennial flowers that’s also multi-branched and has a woody rootstock. Greater sea kale (Crambe cordifolia) has small, fragrant, white flowers and is a member of the Brassicaceae family. It is also known as heart-leaved Crambe and grows in rocky soil near the coast of Europe and North America. The plant naturally occurs in New Zealand and Australia.

Some of the best habitats include rocky soils, like the ground by the Caucasus mountains. Propagation works best by division in the spring or seed in the fall. This plant prefers full sun but will tolerate partial shade. This perennial does best in zones 6-9. It has a height of six feet and a spread of four feet or more.

5. Purple Coneflower

best perennial flower
Echinacea purpurea is medicinal in addition to its value as a beautiful addition to any perennial garden.

©iStock.com/Air Footy

This popular flower is commonly called coneflower because of its spiky central disk. Echinacea purpurea, which is a member of the Asteraceae family, is native to North America, where it grows in prairies, meadows, and open woods. All parts of the plant have medicinal properties. The most notable parts are the flowers which can boost the immune system.

Echinacea purpurea has purple flowers but other varieties come in many colors, including white, yellow, and pink. The plant grows to a height of two to four feet and blooms from mid to late summer. Echinacea is easy to grow in any well-drained soil in full sun. It’s a great plant for zones 3-9 and is deer resistant. Propagation can be done by dividing the root ball in spring or fall.

6. Sea Holly

best flowering perennials flowers
Sea holly is a perennial herb in the family Apiaceae.

©iStock.com/Olga Ionina

Another one of the best perennial flowers is a clump-forming variety, sea holly (Eryngium eburneum). The flowers are small and rounded and almost thistle-like and resemble certain extinct flowers.

Sitting on branched stems, the flowers bloom in late summer. They have green colors with white stamens. The leaves are evergreen and arch in a sword shape. The leaves also have a strong spine at the margin that’s gray-green.

The native habitat for sea holly is South America, in the damp grasslands. That’s why this perennial does well in moist soil on a sunny site.

The flowers dry perfectly for winter arrangements. However, before you cut them, wait for the flowers to fully open. Make sure you keep your garden rabbit safe so the flowers have time to bloom.

To propagate, use the seeds in the autumn and root cuttings in the winter. This perennial does best for zones 9-10. It reaches a height of five to six feet and has a spread of two feet.

7. Giant Fleabane

best flowering perennials
Butterflies appreciate the blossoms of the giant fleabane.

©iStock.com/Dirk Daniel Mann

Upright, vigorous, and clump-forming, giant fleabane (Inula magnifica) is a magnificent perennial. The plant has large flowers that resemble a daisy. The petals are slender and appear in clusters on the long leafy stems. This plant flowers in the late summer with an explosion of rich yellow colors.

The leaves of Inula magnifica are toothed smooth, and hairy underneath. The native habitat is the scrub in the E. Caucasus region. The plant can tolerate partial shade, but it loves the sun. It does best in deep, moisture-retentive soils with lots of fertilization.

To propagate, you’ll want to use seed or division in the spring or fall. This is a plant that thrives in zones 4-8. It reaches a height of six feet and has a spread of three feet.

Animals That Eat Perennial Flowers

Perennial flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden, but unfortunately, they can also be a target for some animals. Here are some of the animals that may eat perennial flowers:

  • Deer: Deers are known to be a common pest for gardeners, and they love to eat many types of perennial flowers. They particularly enjoy the leaves and flowers of plants such as daylilies, hostas, and coneflowers.
  • Rabbits: Rabbits are also notorious for their love of flowers, and perennial flowers are no exception. They particularly enjoy the tender shoots and leaves of plants such as phlox, asters, and black-eyed Susans.
  • Groundhogs: Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are another animal that can cause damage to perennial flowers. They enjoy eating a variety of plants, including daisies, hollyhocks, and peonies.
  • Squirrels: While squirrels are known for their love of nuts, they also enjoy eating flowers. They particularly enjoy the bulbs of plants such as tulips and crocuses.
  • Birds: Some birds, such as finches and sparrows, enjoy eating the seeds of perennial flowers. While this may not cause significant damage to the plant, it can reduce the number of flowers that bloom in the following season.

In summary, while perennial flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden, they can also be a target for some animals.

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The Featured Image

Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus and Bee on Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Monarch butterfly and bumblebee one the same purple coneflower
© iStock.com/db_beyer

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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Sources
  1. Site Editors, Available here: https://botany.org/media/view/collections/tpl/tree
  2. LAUREN SMITH MCDONOUGH, Available here: https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/gardening/g19607249/best-perennials-for-shade/
  3. Site Editors, Available here: https://www.almanac.com/easy-perennial-flowers-beginners-plant