Perennials are the heart of any garden. These flowering plants, which return to bloom year after year, will provide color from spring through the fall if you choose them wisely. Many perennials are spring blooming, which means they die back when the hot sun arrives. Others wait until fall to flower. The majority of perennials, however, are summer-blooming plants and will fill your garden with color from late June to August.
The blanket flower (Gaillardia) is a member of the sunflower family, and like the name implies, it will blanket your garden with bright yellow flowers. The flowers have unusual blocks of darker maroon or orange on the petals.
The blanket flower is easy to grow from seed and will reseed itself year after year. This hardy perennial will tolerate a wide range of soils and starts blooming in early summer, lasting through fall. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends growing blanket flowers in Zones 3 to10.
Scarlet hedgenettle (Stachys coccinea) is not familiar to many home gardeners, but if you want summer blooms that will attract hummingbirds, it can't be beat. Native to Arizona, it will bloom all summer long with very little care. The scarlett hedgenettle features tall spikes covered with small, bright red flowers. Each flower has a white throat. This perennial blooms from mid-summer to fall in warm climates and if deadheaded properly and thrives best in USDA Zones 6 to 9.
Columbine (Aquilegia) is an excellent choice for cooler climates or shady areas. This perennial prefers rich, moist soil and partial shade. Columbines will grow from seed and reseed themselves easily. Hummingbirds are attracted to these blue or purple flowers, as are bees and butterflies. Columbine begins to bloom in early summer and will bloom all summer long in USDA Zones 3 to 8.
Sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris) is known for its showy flowers and licorice-scented foliage. The perennial, which features tall, feathery, orange and purple spikes of flowers, will bloom all summer long and add a pleasing fragrance to your garden. This is another perennial that attracts nectar-seeking insects and birds. The sunset hyssop thrives in USDA Zones 4b to 9.
The purple coneflower (Echinacea) is an excellent choice if you are looking for a summer blooming perennial that has a large visual impact. These flowers can grow up to 5 feet tall and feature large, purple flower-heads that look similar to daisies. Coneflowers, which grow in clumps, begin to bloom in late summer and continue into autumn. The coneflower thrives in USDA Zones 3 to 9.