Once established in flowerbeds, perennial flowers can provide you with years of enjoyment. Often returning in early spring in bigger and healthier clumps, perennials generally require minimal care other than occasional fertilizing and watering. With careful selection, your garden comes alive with a succession of color from spring until frost.
Bearded iris (Iris germanica) start out the season with bright color before other flowers begin to bloom. They are available in a range of colors, from the traditional blues and purples to bright yellows and reds. Ranging in height from 8-inch dwarfs to 3-foot-tall varieties, irises prefer full sun and require lifting and dividing of their underground rhizomes every two to four years. Interplant these hardy bulbs with other late season perennials to keep your garden alive from the time snow melts until fall.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum) prefers full sun and blooms profusely from early summer to well into the fall. Flowers resemble the wild daisy, but plants reach heights of 2 to 3 feet and blooms are considerably larger. Named the "Perennial of the Year" in 2003 by the Perennial Plant Association, Shasta daisy attracts butterflies and other flying insects. Spreading to larger clumps each year, Shasta daisy benefits from lifting and dividing every three to five years.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) creates a striking display as its blooms fold backward revealing the orange-brown centers. This hardy plant thrives in full sun, reaches heights of 2/12 to 3 feet and makes a long-lasting cut flower. Attracting butterflies and flying insects to the garden, purple coneflower adds rich color from midsummer to fall. According to Cornell University Extension, cutting coneflower back in June will extend blooming until September, and cutting them back in July extends blooming into October.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) makes an eye-popping display, particularly when paired with purple coneflower. Large showy blooms with rich orange petals and a dark center bloom from midsummer until fall. These 2 1/2 to 3 foot plants require little supplemental watering. Cut foliage back to the ground level once the plant is killed by frost in the fall, or allow the distinctive seed heads to remain throughout the winter to provide food for hungry birds. Blooms hold up well as cut flowers. Grow in full sun.
Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata L.) emit a heady sweet fragrance that fills the air in midsummer. The pink or white flowers form in clusters atop tall slender plants of heights of 2 1/2 to 3 feet. When planted in masses, phlox create a blanket of color in mid- to late-summer. Once blooming ceases, cutting them back produces a new flush of blooms to extend the season. Grown in full sun or partial shade, phlox attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.
Asters (Aster novi-belgii) add a splash of color from midsummer to fall with their frilly daisy-like blooms. Available in a range of colors from white to deep purples, asters form mounds of delicate color. Fine foliage adds to the appeal of this summer favorite. Asters thrive in full sun and return each year in larger clumps.