Hey it’s May, and now is the time to get yourself outside and get some plants in the ground to acclimate to moderate temperatures and take advantage of more abundant spring rains.
Although moderate is quickly giving way to hot, hot heat in NC, we have already seen (and felt) 90–ugh.
Whether you are adding to a bed or garden you already have or are starting from scratch, I’ve assembled a little collection of must-plant perennials that thrive in a range of zones around the country. These 9 have worked well for me time and again and I’m pretty sure they’ll do the same for you all. Plant them in raised beds, layered in with the shrubs, add to your flower garden or your edible garden. Figure out your zone and let’s dig.
With beautiful, graceful foliage, plentiful blooms and a beautiful purple hue, it’s hard not to love Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis, zones 3 to 9). Try it in yellow or “Dutch chocolate”
The ever hardy Lantana with orange-red and yellow flowers steadily blooms the whole season. You’ll have a huge mound of it before you know it, plus it’s deer resistant. Pictured is a cultivar called ‘Star Landing’ (Lantana camara L.) Make sure you buy the perennial and not the annual…unless you really just want the annual.
Purple Coneflower or Echinacea
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, zones 3 to 8) is an absolute must. There are so many cool varieties to choose from, and they are all easy to grow.
Japanese Forest Grass
I really cannot get over Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, zones 5 to 9). My favorite is the variegated variety. I planted mine under a Japanese maple, and the contrast was genius and it has so much movement. I love it layered with the hydrangeas and just about anything.
Globe thistle (Echinops ritro, zones 3 to 9) is one of my favorite perennials. It’s sculptural and its a beautiful shade of purple. I made sure to have it included in my wedding bouquet, as it adds interest to any flower arrangement.
I saw this hardy geranium (geranium ‘Rozanne’) in my mother’s perennial garden a few years ago and have marveled at the way it just keeps blooming and spreading. She finally gave me some cuttings that promptly took off and are thriving. It’s low growing and great for borders in the front of the planting bed.
I’m not going to stop talking about this plant until you all assure me that you’ve tried it. When everything is fizzled out in late summer, this salvia (Salvia leucantha, zones 7 to 10) is working it. It soaks up the sun and has delicate light green foliage.
Alstromeria or Peruvian Lily
A lot of you are looking for an easy cut flower that might save you some bucks on fresh flowers. Although we all love the tall guys like Delphinium, Holly Hocks and Iris, you won’t have to stake Alstromeria like you do the tall bloomers. Alstromeria is a common cut flower that comes in a variety of different colors, lasts well in a vase and it’s a perennial–the gift that keeps on giving.
“Little Bunny” Fountain Grass or Pennisetum alopecuroides
There are so many amazing grasses and next to Mexican Feather Grass this is my favorite. Fantastic for borders or wherever. I love the dwarf growing habit, the change in texture, the petite white plumes and the movement that this Pennisetum adds to the garden and landscape AND I’m a sucker for all things bunny.
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