Hundreds of sun-loving perennials exist, but the best choices are those that grow in varied conditions and require little care--unless, of course, you enjoy spending hours in the garden. When selecting plants, consider times of bloom (longer bloom times are generally preferred), color scheme, and the height and texture of plants. A variety of heights and textures is pleasing to the eye.
Daylilies grow almost anywhere, even along ditch banks. They are tough, rugged plants that don't mind poor soil or dry conditions. They have mounds of grass-like foliage and yellow, orange, peach or red flowers. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Daylilies multiply through underground rhizomes and benefit from division every three or four years.
Lavender produces prolific stalks of blue or purple flowers mid-summer, but is known for its distinctive fragrance. Dried flowers can be used in potpourris or sachets.The plant tolerates dry conditions and blooms best in full sun. Many varieties exist. For the best fragrance, try French lavender. Lavender is deer resistant.
Coneflowers resemble daisies with their pompom-shaped centers and large petals. They are large, cheerful flowers growing singly from long stems. Foliage is insignificant. Coneflowers thrive in full sun and also tolerate drought. They have a tendency to spread and should be divided every few years. Try purple coneflower, which grows to 4 feet high and has purple petals with a rust-colored center.
Coreopsis also resemble daisies, but the edges of their yellow petals are usually ragged. Sometimes known as tickweed, these plants stand between 2 and 3 feet high, tolerate poor soil and are easy to grow. They are somewhat short lived, but self-sow. They need regular deadheading to keep blooming, and benefit from division.
The light, airy pink flower clusters of Jupiter's Beard--botanical name Centranthus ruber--have a softening effect in the perennial garden. The leaves are small, spearlike and a soft shade of green. This plant reaches 3 or 4 feet high and should be planted at the back of the perennial garden or used as a specimen plant. It spreads quickly and must be divided. Deadhead to keep the blooms coming and discourage the plant from self-sowing.