Perennial Flowers in Pennsylvania
Perennials native to Pennsylvania have adapted to the climate and perform well in cultivation, displaying their showy flowers and rich foliage in gardens year after year. These native plants require little maintenance and often attract butterflies and bees to the garden with their fragrant blooms.
Mertensia virginica, or Virginia bluebells, grow wild in the woodlands of the eastern United States. Virginia bluebells feature oval, grayish green leaves on branching stems that grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Drooping, bell-shaped, blue flowers appear on the plant in early spring. Plant Virginia bluebells in a moist, woodland garden or near a pond in partial shade.
Wild ginger, or Asarum canadense, works well as a groundcover in Pennsylvania gardens, reaching only 4 to 8 inches in height. Small, brownish-red flowers and light green leaves appear in early spring. Plant wild ginger in a moist, shaded location and water regularly during dry periods.
Blue Wild Indigo
Baptisia australis, commonly known as blue wild indigo or false indigo, grows 3 to 4 feet tall. The woody base bears leaves divided into three smaller leaflets. Wild indigo takes two to three years to become established in most gardens. Once established, bluish purple flowers bloom in dense spikes. Plant wild indigo in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Wild Bleeding Heart
Unlike more popular nonnative bleeding hearts, wild bleeding heart does not go dormant in the summer, providing interest throughout the growing season. Also known as dicentra eximia, wild bleeding heart is a bushy, fern-like perennial with light green leaves and clusters of pink flowers. This plant forms mounds and grows up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Provide partial shade and moist, acidic soil for it to thrive. If planted in full shade, wild bleeding heart produces few flowers.
White Wood Aster
Aster divaricatus, or white wood aster, is a fall-blooming perennial featuring small white flowers and purple stems. Stems may grow to 2 feet long and rarely grow upright. It prefers partial shade and will perform well if planted underneath taller perennials. White wood aster tolerates both wet and dry soils.
Heliopsis helianthoides features dark green, toothed leaves and yellow flowers that look similar to small sunflowers. The plant, often called false sunflower, grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Its flowers feature a raised center and provide mid-summer color from June until August. Plant false sunflower in full sun. It tolerates clay soil and will perform in both wet and dry conditions.
Perennial phlox, or phlox paniculata, grows wild in the Appalachian Mountains. It blooms between June and August with clusters of large pink, lavender or white flowers. The flowers appear atop a tall, straight stem with dark green, oval leaves. Plant perennial phlox in a sunny spot with moist, nutrient-rich, loamy soil.
- Penn State University Department of Agriculture: Pennsylvania Native Plants for the Perennial Garden
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Pennsylvania Recommended
- “Armitage's Garden Perennials;” Allan M. Armitage; 2000