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Perennials

Perennials are either shade tolerant or sun tolerant.

Sun:

AchilleaAchillea or yarrow is a superb plant for sunny hot spots. Yarrow is one of the easiest plants to grow in the full sun garden.  It is an outstanding plant for that hot, dry, sunny spot where few other plants will thrive.  Full sunshine. Yarrows do very well in container growing, as they’ll handle the occasional drying out.

ColumbineAquilegia or Columbine is an excellent self-sowing perennial for sun or very light shade. This plant is a late spring or early summer bloomer for the full sun.


AstersAsters are the stars of the fall, full sun perennials lineup. Asters or Michaelmas Daisies are the mainstay of the sunny fall border. Asters are extremely easy to grow. They’ll survive in almost every garden soil that is moderately fertile and well drained. Unfortunately, they’ll not do well on clay soils. They need full sunlight although morning shade is tolerated as long as that full noon sun is available.

Butterfly BushBuddelia or Butterfly Bush is one of the most fragrant of garden plants. And it really does attract butterflies! Butterfly bush grows best in full sun and fertile soils. If you want to make a statement in the summer garden, plant buddleia in clumps.

CampanulaCampanula or Bellflower are delightful bloomers but come with a spreading plant warning. Full sun or part shade. Average garden soil is fine, they prefer a well-drained soil.

CornflowerCornflower Centaurea, Bachelor Buttons, or Mountain Bluet are one and the same. Bachelor Buttons comes to us from either the habit of bachelors wearing the flowers (it lasts a long time as a cut flower) in buttonholes or as a reference to the starburst medals worn by soldiers. The flower is a startling blue.

CoreopsisCoreopsis or Butter Daisy" is a garden stalwart and long-blooming yellow daisy. Coreopsis are certainly worth searching out if you need a perennial with a long blooming season and foolproof nature.

DelphiniumDelphinium flowers are one of the loveliest of mid-summer tall flowers. They prefer full sun, need a rich soil, and as they grow to be six feet, need to be staked.

Day LillyHemerocallis or daylilies are always in the perennial border. Daylilies take full hot sunshine but also part-shade with afternoon sun. Growing them in morning sun and afternoon shade will lead to a weaker plant with fewer blooms but it can still be done. Growing daylilies in full shade is not recommended if you want to see blooms from year to year.

LathyrusLathyrus or perennial sweet pea is a good vine, ground cover or perennial border plant. It prefers full hot sun although it will tolerate a little morning or late afternoon shade.

LavenderLavender is among the most favorite of full sun perennials and belongs in every garden.


LupinesLupines are easy to grow if you give this plant exactly what it wants. It really does thrive best in full, hot sun. It also likes well-drained soils that get decent amounts of rainfall.


LysimachiaLysimachia is good for sun or part shade. This is one plant that will grow in almost any garden situation – from dampish soils right through to marginal sandy soils. They love the full sun but will grow in part shade.

BeebalmMonarda or Beebalm is a garden backbone plant. Excellent but a bit of a spreader. This is a plant of the full sun perennial border. The blooms are mostly on the red-violet side of the color wheel with occasional dashes into whites and pinks.

PaeoniaPaeonia or peonies are classic perennials for the sun that bloom early in the season.


Tall Garden PhloxPhlox paniculata or tall garden phlox is a backbone plant in the perennial cottage garden. They want full sun in a well-ventilated area.

Siberian IrisThe Siberian Iris This iris prefers full sun but will thrive in light shade. The more heat you give it, the more shade it will tolerate. In other words, if you’re growing in the South, it will take more shade than in the North. Moderately fertile soils seem to produce the best flowering rather than heavily fertilized gardens. In spring and summer it prefers a damp soil and this is why it makes an excellent bog or waterside plant. In the fall and winter however, it does want to be dry – standing water will kill it over the winter.

Shade:

Lady's Mantle

Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle). Lady's mantles are easy to grow in soil where summers are cool and moist, preferring some protection from hot sun in midsummer. As the summer progresses, the plants become larger and do not look as neat. Divide or thin if plants become too crowded.

AstilbeeAstilbe are easily grown in partial shade. The soil should be moist with plenty of organic matter mixed in. The larger varieties work well in the garden border as specimen plants. Colors include white, pink, red, rose, and lilac. Heights vary from 12 to 40 inches. They also make an effective ground cover
Bleeding HeartDicentra (Bleeding Heart) Bleeding hearts need open or partial shade with an evenly moist, slightly acidic soil. Plenty of peat moss must be used when planting. Pine needles or pine bark are good for mulching. This plant is a lovely sight when planted in a shady bed or woodland border.

HostasHostas are a great choice for shaded woodland settings—in fact they are our most popular shade perennial. There are numerous varieties, some flowering, some not, with differing leaf size and color.

Phlox DivaricataPhlox divaricata (Woodland Phlox) also known as Moss Pink. Moss pink is a ground-hugging plant up to 6 inches in height with evergreen, needlelike leaves on creeping woody stems. The star-shaped flowers are 3/4 inch across and come in shades of white, pink, deep pink, red, purple, or blue. They appear from midspring to early summer, depending on the local climate. Grow in full sun to partial shade in a well-drained, even sandy, soil. Do not over-fertilize. After blooming has ceased, prune harshly (to 1 to 2 inches) to stimulate new growth. It's the perfect ground cover plant for the rock garden; it is spectacular in bloom and makes an attractive green carpet otherwise.

PrimrosePrimula (Primrose) Most primroses prefer moist but well-drained soil, cool but not freezing temperatures, and average fertility.


Leadwort Pulmonaria (Leadwort) This perennial is a deciduous or semi-evergreen ground cover that grows 6 to 10 inches tall. It has glossy green leaves on long, trailing stems and bears gentian-blue flowers. The 3/4-inch diameter flowers begin in early August and continue until frost. The foliage turns a lovely reddish bronze after the first frost and persists well into winter. Plant in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Leadwort likes full sun or part shade.