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Perennial Flowering Plants: My Favorite Five That Can Take a Licking, but Still Keep on Blooming

Updated on January 18, 2015
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Five Tough Plants for Tough Spaces

It took me almost three summers of walking or driving by the attractive northwest-facing slope that fronts a southwest Virginia retirement community before I appreciated the care and thought that went into making it so eye-catching. The landscape designer's plan for this 75-yard long and five-yard wide swath of color was devilishly simple.

Five clusters of tough perennial flowering plants, groups of three types of small evergreen shrubs and one ornamental grass combined to create a striking slope garden that tops a steep bank that faces a busy corner with a four-way stop. The slope garden caps the bank with a mid-section of well-maintained turf and a row of medium-sized, white-flowering crepe myrtle trees at the bottom along the sidewalk. The effect is truly a four-season garden.

The five flowering plants reach their blooming potential and put on a great performance in late June and throughout July. The evergreen shrubs, various shades of green, are the bones of this slope garden. They provide a green canvas for the blooming perennials, and structure and form during the other three seasons. They look fantastic dusted with light snow. The crepe myrtles lend themselves to defining the space with summer color and winter structure and form.

The New 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The map ranges from zone 1 in Alaska to zone 13 in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands. It is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. The map is located at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service site.

Tough Perennials for Tough Places - Black-eyed Susan, thread-leaf coreopsis, purple coneflower, Shasta daisy and oxeye sunflower all grow well in average well-d

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The oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) is native to N.A. and thrives in plant growing zones 3 to 9.  Size depends upon amounts of sun and richness of soil; height may 3 to 6 feet and spread 2 to 4 feet.  These miniature sunflowers bloom from JThe purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is also native to eastern N.A. and grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. They range in height from 2 to 5 feet and spread 1.5 to 2 feet.  Bloom time is from June to August with petal colors ranging froShasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), also members of the Aster plant family, are often thought of as mainstays of the summer perennial garden and grow well in plant hardiness zones 5 to 9.  They are not native to N.A., but have a fascinating hisThread-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis vertilcillata) is a N.A. native that grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. They grow to 2.5 to 3 feet high and spread 1.5 to 2 feet.  These coreopsis are nonstop bloomers and produce yellow daisy-like flowers frMost everyone recognizes black-eyed Susan daisies that belong to the aster plant family.  They grow well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9 to heights of 2 to 3 feet and spread 1 to 2 feet.  Black-eyed Susans bloom from June to September with yellow ray
The oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) is native to N.A. and thrives in plant growing zones 3 to 9.  Size depends upon amounts of sun and richness of soil; height may 3 to 6 feet and spread 2 to 4 feet.  These miniature sunflowers bloom from J
The oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) is native to N.A. and thrives in plant growing zones 3 to 9. Size depends upon amounts of sun and richness of soil; height may 3 to 6 feet and spread 2 to 4 feet. These miniature sunflowers bloom from J | Source
The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is also native to eastern N.A. and grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. They range in height from 2 to 5 feet and spread 1.5 to 2 feet.  Bloom time is from June to August with petal colors ranging fro
The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is also native to eastern N.A. and grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 8. They range in height from 2 to 5 feet and spread 1.5 to 2 feet. Bloom time is from June to August with petal colors ranging fro | Source
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), also members of the Aster plant family, are often thought of as mainstays of the summer perennial garden and grow well in plant hardiness zones 5 to 9.  They are not native to N.A., but have a fascinating his
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), also members of the Aster plant family, are often thought of as mainstays of the summer perennial garden and grow well in plant hardiness zones 5 to 9. They are not native to N.A., but have a fascinating his | Source
Thread-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis vertilcillata) is a N.A. native that grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. They grow to 2.5 to 3 feet high and spread 1.5 to 2 feet.  These coreopsis are nonstop bloomers and produce yellow daisy-like flowers fr
Thread-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis vertilcillata) is a N.A. native that grows well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. They grow to 2.5 to 3 feet high and spread 1.5 to 2 feet. These coreopsis are nonstop bloomers and produce yellow daisy-like flowers fr | Source
Most everyone recognizes black-eyed Susan daisies that belong to the aster plant family.  They grow well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9 to heights of 2 to 3 feet and spread 1 to 2 feet.  Black-eyed Susans bloom from June to September with yellow ray
Most everyone recognizes black-eyed Susan daisies that belong to the aster plant family. They grow well in plant hardiness zones 3 to 9 to heights of 2 to 3 feet and spread 1 to 2 feet. Black-eyed Susans bloom from June to September with yellow ray | Source

A Devilishly Simple Design for an Attractive Northwest-facing Slope - An eye-catching display of flowering perennial and broad-leaf evergreens makes a 75-yard l

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Map (from Google Earth) shows the busy corner with the slope garden at the top between the driveway and the main streets.Section #1 at the extreme left facing the slope garden; contains oxeye sunflowers and Soft Touch hollies.Section #2 contains Soft Touch hollies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), and Shasta daisies.Section #3 contains Shasta daisies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), Miscanthus ornamental grasses, and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.Section #4 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.Section #5 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses, Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses, and purple coneflowers (Echinacea).Section #6 contains Soft Touch hollies, thread-leaf coreopsis, oxeye sunflowers, and Goldstrum black-eyed Susans.
Map (from Google Earth) shows the busy corner with the slope garden at the top between the driveway and the main streets.
Map (from Google Earth) shows the busy corner with the slope garden at the top between the driveway and the main streets.
Section #1 at the extreme left facing the slope garden; contains oxeye sunflowers and Soft Touch hollies.
Section #1 at the extreme left facing the slope garden; contains oxeye sunflowers and Soft Touch hollies.
Section #2 contains Soft Touch hollies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), and Shasta daisies.
Section #2 contains Soft Touch hollies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), and Shasta daisies.
Section #3 contains Shasta daisies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), Miscanthus ornamental grasses, and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.
Section #3 contains Shasta daisies, Fire Power Heavenly Bamboos (Nandina), Miscanthus ornamental grasses, and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.
Section #4 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.
Section #4 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses and Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses.
Section #5 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses, Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses, and purple coneflowers (Echinacea).
Section #5 contains Miscanthus ornamental grasses, Golden Mop dwarf goldthread falsecypresses, and purple coneflowers (Echinacea).
Section #6 contains Soft Touch hollies, thread-leaf coreopsis, oxeye sunflowers, and Goldstrum black-eyed Susans.
Section #6 contains Soft Touch hollies, thread-leaf coreopsis, oxeye sunflowers, and Goldstrum black-eyed Susans.

Garden Types

What is your favorite kind of flower garden?

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The Most Important Thing to Remember...

...is to Avoid Disappointment! Check the plant descriptions before ordering and planting them. Use a good source like the USDA Extension Service to make sure that your plants fit your location.

The Second Most Important Thing to Remember...

is that perennial flowering plants may be active or last throughout the growing year or through many growing years, but they don't last forever. Most need to be replaced periodically to maintain the beauty of the planting design.

The Third Most Important Thing to Remember...

Perennials are not necessarily low or no maintenance plants. Some of the ones gardeners admire the most need a great deal of maintenance. Balancing realistic wishes with available maintenance time goes a long way with little frustration to making a desirable and colorful garden.

Tough plants for tough spots. Give these questions your best shot.


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Another Tough Plant for Tough Spaces

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An Adult Picture Book with Great Ideas!

Did this lens help you out or present any new ideas about perennial flowers to you?

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    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Colin323: Hi, Thanks for visiting and commenting on this lens. I agree, Echinacea is a wonderful plant...and selection / hybridization have added more colors in the range in the past few years.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @favored: Hi! Yes, these are great plants for tough situations, but need to be separated and / or completely replaced every few seasons. With horrible winter here in SW VA this hillside suffered terribly since I wrote the lens.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      Very helpful. I have grown most of the 5, but some have gone bye-bye due to the cold winter. They are among my favorites, so at some point I may replace them.

    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      Echinacea is my favourite. I like the shape and colour range; a very attractive flower.

    • kindoak profile image

      kindoak 3 years ago

      I like coneflowers. I agree they are quite easy to grow and hardy!

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Great perennials for any garden, lovely lens, and sharing it with the Weekend Gardeners right now!

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 3 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @Gloriousconfusion: Hi, Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave your comments about my quiz. Both are much appreciated. It's great making contact with an English gardener...we have a common base in love and basics of gardener, but so many things like the weather are so different.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I was amazed to get 100% in the quiz. Some was knowledge, some was logic (like imagining what it's like in Siberia), and some of the plants I'd never even heard of, but still got them right! But I know that getting the position and soil right is the best way to have a beautiful garden, and advise this in many of my gardening lenses.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 4 years ago

      This is very helpful. I'm always looking for new gardening ideas.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @jseven lm: Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad that you enjoyed your visit.

    • GeorgeneMBramlage profile image
      Author

      Georgene Moizuk Bramlage 5 years ago from southwestern Virginia

      @anonymous: Sorry these are mid-summer flowers. Bloom can be stretched a little by deadheading the plants. This works especially well with the daisies. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It would be nice to see flowers in the garden for an entire year.

    • profile image

      jseven lm 5 years ago

      Very helpful and colorful lens, enjoyed it!

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