Reblooming and Long Blooming Perennials for the Home Garden
Many a home flower garden has perennials as its backbone. While annuals add season-long color, perennials provide foliage structure and flower interest that may last for quite a while.There are several perennials that will bloom for extended periods. These are naturally desirable in a mixed garden bed, adding to the fun.
The week or so that Oriental poppies, for example, may bloom, contrasts with the long-blooming varieties of hardy, “true” geraniums. These are geranium species, as opposed to the non-hardy pelargoniums that are commonly called geraniums. (We love the poppies, too, no fear of that!) Many geranium species, such as the brilliant pink macrorrhizum, are lovely, but bloom for a short period. Newer hybrids will go for months, particularly before strong heat sets in. Some of these include the blue ‘Orion,’ and ‘Rozanne,’ coral-colored ‘Wargrave Pink,’ veined pink ‘Russell Prichard,’ and the magenta with a dark center ‘Patricia.’ A drier, sunnier situation suits the small pale pink sanguineum striatum. The masses of foliage sport beautifully-textured, almost fern-like leaves that add to the show. While not as long blooming, some varieties have dark foliage that adds great interest, such as ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Dark Reiter,’ with purple blooms and bronzy leaves.
Daisies and Scabiosas
White daisies are often advertised as reblooming if cut back. One of these that does seem to perform well is the cultivar Chrysanthemum superbum ‘Becky.’ It has sturdy, upright stems that also lend themselves to cut flower use, and rarely flop. It does like really good drainage and spacious placement to prevent fungal problems. The charming scabiosas ‘Butterfly Blue’ and ‘Butterfly Pink’ have little pincushion flowers that also persist for months. The only problem is that they seem marginally hardy under damper conditions, although labeled hardy to zone 4. In this case, it may return after an unusually mild winter, but humidity and moisture seems to cause many fatalities.
Agastache, Veronica and Salvias
Some small, bushy-leaved perennials can also be induced to bloom again when cut back after initial flowering. Agastache is charming with coral, pink and blue flower spikes, but does also seem to require dry, less humid conditions for full hardiness. Not cutting these back in the late fall is said to improve survival as well. Blue veronica makes deeply-colored upright spikes that punctuate the garden with ultramarine blue. Hardy salvias, such as sylvestris, or nemorosa, and their marginally-hardy annual relatives, such as greggii, will bloom for months as well. The hardiest types come in pink, purple, white and blue. Annual salvias come in almost every color. All of these are quite drought-tolerant when established.
In the mint family, calamintha is notably long-blooming when sheared back. Its little blue or white flowers hover over blue-green foliage. ‘Walker’s Low’ is pale blue, Marvelette Blue’ is a deeper blue color. New types have pink flowers and variegated foliage ( variegata) One great advantage here is deer resistance, which is desirable in much of the country. Calamintha does tend to be floppy and cottage-garden in effect, not a structured, sturdy plant like a sedum.
Coreopsis and an Aster hybrid
One of the easiest perennials to grow in full sun is Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’, a verticilliata hybrid. Starting in the spring, a haze of fine, fern-like foliage emerges above ground. Later in the summer, months and months of small, brilliant yellow daisies sprinkle the plant, and deer never seem to trouble it. ‘Moonbeam’ is also very delightful, a softer yellow, but considerably more floppy and and billowing. New hybrids, such as ‘Show Stopper,’ or ‘Sienna Sunset,’ come in shades of white, pink, red, yellow with a red center, and reddish-brown. There is also a cute lavender-blue aster that will repeat if cut back. Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ is known for this characteristic, and keeps putting out its little daisy-like flowers for months. Most asters will only bloom once, usually towards fall.
Many daylily hybrids are reblooming and also compact in size. ‘Stella de Oro’ is perhaps the best known, but others such as the lemon-colored ‘Happy Returns’ also repeat nicely. Ideally, these hybrids should be divided periodically to maintain their vigor and flower power, and this also gives you a chance to share pieces with friends. Newer types include ‘Purple de Oro’, the vivid red ‘Earlybird Cardinal,’ pink ‘Stephanie Returns,’ and red with yellow center ‘Passionate Returns.’
Corydalis and Dicentras
Some shade plants also are summer rebloomers, and highly deer resistant. A charming little plant that needs to be seen more often is the little Corydalis lutea, which has lacy blue-green foliage and little pea-shaped yellow flowers. There is a lovely flexuosa type with turquoise-blue flowers, ephemeral and spring blooming, and not heat tolerant! Recently, I found that there are white corydalis that also repeat (ochroleuca.) The pink plants, solida, are strictly a spring enjoyment, although pink sempervivens is said to bloom through the summer. Many new solida hybrids are coming out in pink, lavenders and whites, such as pink ‘Beth Evans.’ Dicentra eximia, or the small-growing, fern-like bleeding hearts, also can rebloom in shade, particularly if cool and well watered. Their foliage will not go summer dormant as the larger spectabilis will.
Campanulas and similar species
Certain campanulas, and similar species, will repeat if spent flowers are cut. The lovely, tall persifolia boasts large, wide-open bells along its graceful stems in lavenders, white, and blue. Little bushy poscharskyana has an abundance of small blue bells, very happy tumbling over the edge of walls and borders. Glomerata has clusters of bright blue at the top of the stems. Lactiflora has the pale blue flowers implied by the “lacti” (or “milky”) in its name, distributed on the summit of long stalks. Many other great Campanulas are available for gardeners.
Adenophora lilifolia is quite similar to campanulas, somewhat potentially invasive, but has tall one-sided lavender blue bells over a long period. Deadhead it to prevent reseeding if needed. Platycodon, or balloon flower, is late to emerge, but makes up for it with repeated open blue starry bells if old flowers are removed.
Bearded Irises again? maybe
Even some bearded irises, whose fanciful flowers have long been an early summer delight, can rebloom, although this is very dependent on climate, watering, and other factors such as fertilizer. A late new growth may surprise and please with a flower. Plants such as ‘Again and Again’ (yellow) and ‘Forever Blue’ have been bred for this, and enjoy full sun and good drainage.
All of these plants are well worth investigating. Many new hybrid plants increase a gardener’s chances of having a truly flower-filled summer! Breeders are undoubtedly working on more.