Ohio gardens range from temperate climates on the shores of Lake Erie and the banks of the Ohio River to the hot summers and cold winters of the state's largely flat midsection. Ranging from USDA Plant Hardiness Zone five to seven, Ohio is well-suited for a large number of perennial flowering plants. The state has its favorites–some native, some that have adapted to life in the "Buckeye State." All are vibrant and enjoyable.
Hostas, a genus of more than 40 lily-like plants, are an Ohio favorite. The shiny, broadleaf plants are some of the first to emerge in the spring (usually in mid-April in Ohio) and last through the first hard frost. Hardy to growing zone three, hostas are perfectly suited for Ohio's zone five to seven gardens and reward growers by returning larger and hardier each season. Hostas come in a variety of shades of green, some solid and some variegated, and produce purple, lavender or white, stalk-like flowers in mid- to late summer.
Purple coneflowers, the common name for "echinacea," are another Ohio favorite. These former wildflowers can grow to more than 3 feet tall and produce daisy-like flowers in shades of rose and purple in midsummer and continue to bloom for two to three months. This Midwest native plant thrives in full sun and is drought-resistant.
Tall, stately irises lend interest and color to any Ohio perennial garden. These flowers take their name from the Greek word for "rainbow," which is fitting because there are more than 300 different kinds of irises, in most colors of the spectrum. Sometimes called "flags" in the Midwest, irises grow from shallowly planted rhizomes and thrive in sunny areas with good drainage.
Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the bleeding heart (formally "dicentra") dies off completely to the ground each summer only to reappear in the spring stronger and more vibrant than ever. Mature bleeding hearts grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall and just as wide. They produce delicate, heart-shaped (hence the name), pink or white, drop-like blossoms in mid-spring on fern-like branches. A native of Asia, this plant has assimilated well in the Midwest and is hardy to growing zone five.