Perennials that remain upright with no assistance, also seem to be rugged in other ways. Some of the sturdiest examples are North American native wildflowers. Sturdy perennials will also help support the weaker stemmed flowers growing nearby. When planning the perennial garden, place these tough contenders in areas where they can best lend their support.
Coneflower (Echinacea) has a sturdy stem. For this reason, it is a good choice as a cut flower for arrangements. The species (Echinacea purpurea) is a tall 3 to 4 foot flower with pink to lavender ray-type flowers. The central cone is pronounced and accessible to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. It is native to the Prairie regions of the United States.
Hybrid coneflowers may be shorter with flatter cones. Coneflowers can be found in shades of white, yellow, gold, orange, lavender, red and pink. Some have a blend of colors within the petals. Coneflower plants begin the growing season as a low clump of leaves. They reach their full height and bloom in late summer. The species is the most cold tolerant, to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 3. Hybrid coneflowers are suitable for gardens in regions as low as USDA zone 5.
Cape fuchsia (Phygelius) is a rigid perennial with woody stems. It could be classified as a sub-shrub, since it develops a structure which remains above ground through winter in some regions. Phygelius is a tall plant with some varieties reaching as tall as 4 feet. There are also 2-3 foot dwarf varieties. These flowers are not true fuchsias. The long stems develop nice glossy leaves by mid-summer, and flower stems in late summer or fall. The flowers appear along the stems and are long and tubular. This is the perfect type of bloom for hummingbirds. Cape fuchsias come in white, cream, yellow, lavender, salmon, orange and red. Many varieties have yellow inside the throat of the flower. These flowers are long lasting, and perfect for fall flower color.
The blanket flower (Gaillardia), is a valuable in the landscape due to its long bloom period. It is a short, mounding 1 foot plant, so it requires no support to remain attractive. Blanket flower comes in sunny color variations of brown, yellow, orange and red. Most varieties have a combination of two to three colors within the petals. Some have names like 'Pinwheel,' which describes their appearance. Blanket flower is native to the prairies of the United States. This plant is hardy to USDA zone 3.
Gay feather, or blazing star (Liatris spicata), is a native North American wildflower. It forms a grassy clump of leaves early in summer. In late summer it develops a 2 foot flower spike. The spike consists of many small florets that remain tight along the stem. The species has purple flowers, as does the common hybrid, Liatris spicata 'Kobold.'There is also a white variety of gay feather, Liatris spicata 'Floristan White.' All forms are outstanding butterfly perennials. Liatris spicata is hardy to USDA zone 3.