Outdoor plants that grow back every year are called perennials. Perennials may offer blooms to brighten the landscape in spring, summer or fall. Perennials may also be greenery for fillers or standalone charm. Choose perennials for your landscape based on their height and width growth potential as well as the plant’s bloom color and time of bloom to keep color in the landscape all season long.
Clematis (Clematis hybrida) is a popular flowering vine that can reach 5 to 20 feet in length, depending on the variety. Clematis thrives in full sun. You can use clematis to add vertical interest to the landscape as the vine is easily encouraged to cling to an arbor.
For fragrance, choose Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis). Chinese wisteria grows quickly, reaching a length of up to 50 feet.
Many varieties of jasmine, like swamp jasmine (Gelsemium rankinii), grow quickly in sun or shade, and produce fragrant flowers.
An ornamental grass like creeping lilyturf (Liriope spicata), which prefers partial sun to full shade, reaches about a foot tall and can also be used as ground cover. Lilyturf produces spikes of small blooms in mid-summer.
Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), with its fragrant bell-shaped tiny blooms, reaches less than 1 foot tall in shady locations.
For flower ground cover in full sun, try candytuft with its springtime white blooms. Candytuft grows less than a foot high and self seeds to help fill out a flower bed.
Varying Bloom Times
Flowering perennial plants can have varying bloom times. Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia), which can reach up to 1 foot tall and prefers part shade, produces white or pink blooms in late spring. For late spring to early summer color, choose black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida). This daisy-like yellow-orange flower with a brown center grows 2 to 3 feet tall in full sun. Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema hybrids) blooms in full sun in late summer into fall on plants 1 to 3 feet tall. Bloom colors fall include deep red, violet, pink, yellow, white or orange.
Plants such as ferns or ornamental grass can provide a backdrop for other plants or make a statement on their own, grouped in the landscape or grown in containers. Ferns prefer shaded areas. For height in the garden, try ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), which can grow 4 to 7 feet tall. Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) grows 12 to 18 inches tall. Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) adds movement to the landscape with feathery cream to pinkish blooms atop 1 to 5 foot blades of sturdy grass.