Design a Showy Flowerbed with These 5 Easy-Care Perennials
Costa Farms gardening expert, Justin Hancock shares valuable design tips for selecting and planting perennials and ideal companion plants. Because they come back year after year, require little watering, are long-blooming, and offer a variety of textures, shapes and colors, Hancock says perennials are the backbone of any beautiful garden. He suggests starting with these five beautiful, easy-care perennials to instantly transform any garden.
Have a shady backyard? That doesn’t mean you can’t have a colorful garden! Hostas come in an almost limitless selection of sizes, shapes and colors. In fact, there are so many hosta varieties to choose from that it’s possible to create an entire garden with just this one type of plant. Hostas also show off gorgeous flower spikes in pink, lavender or white, and some even have a sweet fragrance.
Shade-Loving | Zone: 3-10| Bloom Time: Mid to late summer
Companion Plant: Astilbe
Astilbe's greatest attribute is how it will provide contrast in the leaf structure when paired with hostas. Astilbe has a lacy leaf that plays well with the coarse bold hosta leaf.
Try to mix different varieties of hostas together. The transitions between large, medium, and small varieties provide an intriguing and subtle play of color and texture. A mix of hostas allows you to stay within the same theme for your garden, yet is more impactful than just a bed full of the same color and variety.
Second on Hancock’s list is rudbeckia, also known as Black-eyed Susan. It develops wave after wave of cheerful daisy-like blooms from early summer to fall. Most varieties grow around 2 feet tall and are great cut for bouquets. Because rudbeckias are native to the central and eastern parts of the United States, they are also naturally drought and insect resistant.
Sun-Loving |Zone: 3-10| Bloom Time: Late summer to fall
Companion Plant: AsterRudbeckia gives a brilliant gold and aster comes in stunning shades of blue and purple. You can’t go wrong combining gold with blue or purple. Plus, aster is fantastic for attracting butterflies.
Design Tip:The loose and informal look of rudbeckia makes an ideal plant for cottage style gardens. If you don’t want the loose and informal look, then do a mass planting of rudbeckia. The eye will be paying more attention to the bold color and won’t notice the habit as much.
With a long bloom time and generally trouble-free nature, coreopsis is an easy-to-grow perennial. It stands up to a little neglect when it comes to water and fertilizer, making it extremely low maintenance. A native prairie plant, this bright sunny-yellow flower is hard to miss even on a dreary day. Most coreopsis grow about 18 inches tall and produce single or double flowers.
Sun-Loving |Zone: 4-9 |Bloom Time: early to late summer
Companion Plant: Salvia
Salvia has an upright, spikey texture and coreopsis is more nicely mounded which creates great interplay in the form. Plus, both are butterfly magnets.
Because coreopsis is relatively low, it is fun to use at a border as an edging plant.
Sedums with Nectar-Rich Blooms
Another easy-care perennial is sedum. Hancock describes them as the “workhorses of perennials.” Almost impervious to heat, drought, and disease, sedums get bigger and better each year. Most sedums bloom in late summer and fall, but the lush greenery looks healthy all season long. Their nectar-rich blooms are a favorite with butterflies, bees and other pollinators.
Sun-Loving |Zone: 4-9 |Bloom Time: Mid-summer
Companion Plant: Thyme
Another sun-loving ground cover, Thyme has fine, pretty leaves which contrast nicely with the bolder, fleshier leaf of sedum. Both are great for creating a carpet of color.
Sedums perform well in rock gardens and are ideal for softening hot, dry spaces. For a great effect, plant creeping varieties in rock walls where they can cascade down.
Coneflower, also called Echinacea, is a favorite with the butterflies. Choose from double-and triple-flowering varieties and colors that include white, raspberry, orange and yellow. Echinacea generally grow 3 feet tall and bloom from early summer through fall. They also make excellent cut flowers.
Sun-Loving |Zone: 3-8 |Bloom Time: Midsummer thru late summer
Companion Plant: Russian Sage
Also heat and drought tolerant, Russian sage’s silvery foliage make a nice backdrop to pink and purple blooms. Because it is a late summer/fall bloomer, you can extend the season of your flowerbed by enjoying two shows of color as the coneflower and the Russian sage will bloom one after the other.
Because coneflower does not have the prettiest foliage, combine it with bulkier plants to help hide the leaves so the flowers rise up.
For more perennial choices, visit www.costafarms.com or your local garden home store.