Perennial flowers come back from the roots each year. There is a perennial adapted to nearly every climate and condition. They range from tall, colorful flowers to short, creeping blossoms. Perennials are planted only once. They grow and sprout in the spring and die back to the ground each winter; this cycle is repeated every year. The best perennials are adaptable to a large variety of climates, resist pests and diseases as well as require little care. Every year the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) names the "Perennial Plant of the Year" that displays a range of these strong traits.
Blue False Indigo
Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) was named the 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year. It is a 3 to 4 foot tall shrub-like flower that grows in full sun to partial shade, and is hardy in USDA Zones 3 to 9. Flower spikes appear 10 to 12 inches above the clover-shaped leaves. Pea-like flowers cover the spikes with violet lavender color.
Once the flowers fade, the mounds of foliage are covered with coal black seed pods that rattle in the wind. Blue false indigo is tolerant of arid conditions once the plant is established. This perennial grows a long tap root so it is a permanent addition to your garden. Blue false indigo makes a dramatic back border for a flower garden. It attracts butterflies and is deer resistant due to the bitter tasting alkaloids this flower contains.
Rozanne Cranesbill Geranium
Rozanne cranesbill geranium (Geranium 'Rozanne') thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. The 2008 Perennial Plant of the Year has dark green leaves which form a 20-inch high mound that turns red in autumn. The cup-shaped, 2.5-inch blossoms are violet blue with purple veins running through the petals surrounding delicate cream centers.
Rozanne cranesbill geranium prefers full sun with partial afternoon shade in hot areas. This geranium tolerates excessive heat and drought. The long flowering season makes it a colorful ground cover or front flowerbed border. There are no known insect pests for this flower. It does not self-seed itself since it is a sterile hybrid.
Walker's Low Catmint
The 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year was Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta 'Walker's Low'), which grows to three feet tall. The leaves are silver-green, ruffles. Dark blue-purple blossoms form thick clusters on upright stems towering above the foliage. This catmint enjoys full sun exposure, but will tolerate shady sites in hot climates.
Walker's Low catmint grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8. This perennial flower will bloom all season if pruned back by two-thirds once the first blossoms have faded. Though attractive to bees and butterflies, this aromatic flower is deer and rabbit resistant.
Firewitch (Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Feuerhexe') enjoys the climate of USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9. The 2006 PPA winner features evergreen bluish-gray to silver, grass-like leaves form a 3- to 4-inch tall mat of foliage. Purplish-pink, clove-scented blossoms appear 6 to 8 inches high. The first blossoms show up in the middle of spring. Deadhead firewitch flowers to promote reblooming in the summer and fall. This perennial flower does best in full sun. It is suitable as a border plant or as a bright color spot in a rock garden.