The Best Flowers For Your Perennial Garden

The 10 best flowers for your perennial garden. These plants are easy to grow, low-maintenance and beautiful!

Perennials are the backbone of any garden. They are planted once, and if all goes well, they provide years of joy. Perennials are the perfect way to add height, foliage, texture, and color to any empty spot around your home.

So…for those of you who, like me, are longing for gardening season, I have rounded up my list of best hardy flowers for your perennial garden. Because after all…thinking and planning are part of the process, and definitely part of the fun.

I reside in Northwest Ohio, which is U.S. planting zone 6. This post features our yard and gardens at the Sutton Place house. I’m looking forward to making the garden beds around our new home just as beautiful.

Peonies in Garden from On Sutton Place

What is a perennial?

A perennial is a plant that once put in the ground, lives at least two years. The opposite of a perennial is an annual. An annual is planted once, and when the growing season is over, it dies. Many perennials live much longer than two years. They “die down” in the winter, but come back up when the next growing season begins.

Perfect Peony Arrangement Ideas from On Sutton Place

Low Maintenance Perennial Flowers

The following ten plants are ones I successfully planted at one time or another at our house on Sutton Place. Here at the Sugar Maple House, I have added hosta plants, but would love to plant more perennials that bloom. I especially miss my peonies!

Hostas: The best hardy perennial flowers for your garden landscaping. These plants are easy to grow, low-maintenance and beautiful!

Hosta lancifolia

Partial to full shade.

Hostas are perfect hardy perennial flowers for any shade garden. They benefit from good drainage, and moist soil. New gardeners should grow hosta plants because they are literally maintenance-free. Their bloom time comes later in the summer, but is definitely worth the wait. Any perennial garden design should definitely include hostas!

Find more information on growing hostas here:
Hostas Care, Transplanting Hostas, Hosta Varieties

Shasta Daisies: The best hardy perennial flowers for your garden landscaping. These plants are easy to grow, low-maintenance and beautiful!

Leucanthemum × superbum

Full sun preferred. Common Name: shasta daisy.

Shasta daisies are wonderful as a cutting flower, and for filling in bare spots in your garden. I recommend ‘Becky’ because it has strong stems, and blooms for several weeks. They have a tendency to multiply and move around due to re-seeding. Just dig them up in the spring, and plop them back where they belong. They pair beautifully in a cut arrangement with hosta, hydrangeas, or phlox.

Coreopsis ~ hardy perennial

Coreopsis lanceolata

Full sun preferred.

One of my favorites, but not widely used, is coreopsis. I think I am emotionally attached to my coreopsis because it is the only plant that has survived from my original fence row garden plan. This batch started out as 3 little plants. I kept it in control by trimming around the perimeter of the patch in the spring. Although not really a cutting flower, I can see it from my kitchen window, and it attracts butterflies. Looking out to this view always lifts my spirits.

Black Eyed Susans: The best hardy perennial flowers for your garden landscaping. These plants are easy to grow, low-maintenance and beautiful!

Rudbeckia

Full sun preferred. Common Name: black-eyed Susan

Another daisy-type plant that, in my opinion, should be in every perennial garden is the black-eyed Susan. The most common cultivar is ‘American Gold Rush’ and honestly, it’s amazing. All they need, once established, is water, and the blooms are abundant.

clematis in garden with shed 2023

Clematis

Full to partial sun.

Next is the climbing vine, clematis. The plant pictured above was started 2 years ago. Last year it only had a few blooms, and I was a little worried. As you can see, I had nothing to worry about! It takes a year or so to become established, and then it goes crazy. Mine is GALORE, and the purple pops from the wood fence.

Daylilies: The best hardy perennial flowers for your garden landscaping. These plants are easy to grow, low-maintenance and beautiful!

Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’

Full to partial shade. Common Name: daylily

One perennial flower that has done very well for me is the daylily. Like hosta, they die down in the fall for easy clean-up. Their blooming time is short, but the blooms are plentiful and vivid. If you are diligent with deadheading, you will be rewarded with even more blooms. We have split these daylilies a few times, and moved some to the front yard. These are Stella D’oro, the most common variety.

Hardy Plants | The DIY Gardener's Guide Part 2 | On Sutton Place

Paeonia lactiflora

Full to partial sun. Common Name: peony

Several years ago, I received three peony plants as a remembrance when my father-in-law passed away. I planted them in my fence row garden at the Sutton Place house, and waited patiently for blooms. The first growing season I had none. The next year I was blessed with several blooms on each bush. After that, they bloomed profusely. These peonies are the loveliest color, but I have no idea exactly what it is. It’s a very vibrant, dark pink. 

Peonies require no care at all, with the exception of staking, which is optional. I staked mine to keep the enormous blooms off the ground. They die down in the fall, and appear again in late spring. Peonies love sun, but they did fine in my partial sun conditions.

dianthus and peonies in garden with rock border

Dianthus

At least 6 hours of sun.

One of the reasons I planted the dark pink peonies was because I knew they would exactly match the dianthus that was already there. The dianthus in our perennial border is a few years old, and comes up in the late spring. The blooms are so pretty, and they last for several weeks. Again, there is really nothing to do except sheer off the blooms when they die down…and this is only if you want to. Dianthus spreads and fills in nicely. If it gets too thick, it’s very easy to dig up and move.

fresh lavender stems in basket

Lavandula angustifolia

Full sun, dry conditions. Common Name: English lavender

No perennial flower garden would be complete without lavender, and even though I have not had amazing success, my lavender has refused to die! Some years it looks better than others, and I think that depends on how much rain we get. Lavender likes to be dry. 

There are many different cultivars of lavender. Mine is ‘Hidcote’ but ‘Munstead’ is also a good choice.

Hardy Plants | The DIY Gardener's Guide Part 2 | On Sutton Place

Phlox paniculata

Full to partial sun.

The first phlox I ever planted is the popular white cultivar called ‘David’. I made a mistake though, and placed the plants too close together. Some of them were crowded out, and I ended up with just one large plant. ‘David’ has a pure white bloom, and the most beautiful scent.

Pictured above is ‘Peppermint Twist’. I bought these plants on a whim a few years ago at Kroger. They are sturdy, and have perfect blooms. Like most perennials, phlox dies down in the fall and comes up again in the early summer. Garden phlox has a tendency to get mildewy at the root, so don’t overwater. They make a lovely cut flower, but don’t last long. After a few days the petals start to fall off.

More Plants for your Perennial Garden

  • Heuchera americana (Common Name: coral bells)
  • Achillea filipendulina (Common Name: fern-leaf yarrow)
  • Sedum (Common Name: stonecrop)
  • Athyrium filix-femina (Common Name: lady fern)
  • Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’ (Common Name: catmint)
  • Delphinium exaltatum (Common Name: tall larkspur)
  • Salvia officinalis (Common Name: common sage)
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia (Common Name: Russian sage)

All of these hardy perennial flowers are easy to grow in zones 3 thru 8. If you aren’t sure, find your growing zone here. With some extra watering, I believe this collection of perennials can be grown in zones 9 and 10 as well.

I am a self-taught gardener who loves plants that bloom. These perennials are tried and true, all-American favorites that anyone can grow. A little water, a little sun, and a prayer or two is all you need.

I hope this made you want to get your hands dirty!

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41 Comments

  1. Really look forward to your blog and so many wonderful ideas. Just a suggestion on plant information. Please include what zone you are located in. Not all plant suggestions will work in my plant zone. Thanks and Blessed Easter.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I added a notation at the beginning of the post…thank you for the suggestion!

  2. Thank you so much for the information on the flowers. I want to plant flowers this spring that will come back and have them to cut for myself, friends and family. Can’t wait for the nice weather to get started. I love your web site. Thank you for the great ideas and for the wonderful recipes.

  3. Ann, peonies tend to take more than a season or two get established enough to provide a numnber of blooms. Next year…you will have a lot of lovely flowers. (I just moved and divided 5 groups to make 9 for a curved hedge behind yellow daylilies.)

  4. Karen Mary says:

    What a good collection of hardy plants! I was happy to see many of the plants I’ve planned to put in my new perennial bed on your list! :) I’m going to skip the phlox though, because I haven’t had good luck with them. I see them in other gardens and love them, but mine either get mildew or dried brown leaves on the bottom. Thanks for the inspiration and reassurance about my other choices! Cheers!

  5. Michele T says:

    I found your post on Pinterest. I have a few of the plants you listed and will get others that I hope will grow in my zone 3 environment. I would love to know why my Peony has never bloomed… it comes from my parents garden and I have been patiently hoping for years!!

    1. Peony… likely planted to deep

      1. Michele T says:

        Thanks for this tip, I’ll replant it shallower.

  6. Great tips. I have lily of the valley and it is finally being invasive and growing in almost straight gravel! Will dig it up and put it where I want it! I can’t grow Black-eyed Susans. Not enough sun? I have had a woodchuck come up on my front porch to eat a phlox plant (intended as a gift!) right down to the bare stem!

  7. David the white phlox is blooming in my garden and is by far one of my Best Buys!

  8. These are all my favorites and easy to care for! I was blessed many years ago to have my yard updated with new landscape and they started many of my plants for me which included most of your suggested plants. Living on the lake, I have two “front” yards resulting in lots of maintenance, but it keeps me in shape and busy all summer.
    Thank you for sharing all the wonderful plants and ideas…

  9. I have Stella D’Oro lilies in my garden, too, and they are among my favorite. The only drawback is that they never bloom very long. However, I just read an article that tells just how to keep them blooming for an extended period of time! You may already know this trick, but if you don’t here is the link: https://dengarden.com/gardening/How-To-Keep-Stella-De-Oro-Daylilies-Blooming-All-Season-Long. I am anxious to try this!! The weather here in Southeast Missouri has been glorious this week and I am enjoying working in my garden. Tomorrow’s plan is to work on the rock border around my beds. Thanks for your tips!

  10. Hi Ann! Today’s post inspired me in a different way. I am going to raise some of these in pots on my deck where I have a tiered bench in full sun. Ross built it for me a couple years ago for herbs and I haven’t been thrilled with the look – rather too green and boring. So I am going to switch over part of it to bright daisies and who knows what. Like you, I’ve been gardening for a long time and am always switching around to something new. The spot is my only full sun area and I always fuss that I wish I had a place for more color. I think this will be my joy bringer! Thanks, as always for your excellent blog.

  11. Terri Herman says:

    Great list! Many of my favorites that were planted at our former home. Got lots of work to do at our new home & will pin this for future reference. Never had a clematis before but have a perfect spot. Thanks for the additional link for it! Enjoy your beauty!

  12. Sharon Clair says:

    Ann, I loved reading your “10 Best Perennial Plants” list found on Pinterest. This is the 2nd time I’ve ever commented on any post. I’m in zone 6, Kansas City. I have a majority of your plants in my garden!! Tried growing lavender last year, but it dried up & died. It got full sun with a little shade in late afternoon. I want to try again & will search for Munstead variety. Will it do OK in a pot, so I can move it to meet light requirements?
    THANK YOU for your inspiration and insights. I love caring for and enjoying my Creator’s creation!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Sharon! I have never tried growing lavender in a pot but I know it’s highly recommended. Watering might be tricky because lavender doesn’t like to be wet. Give it a try and let me know how it does. Best of luck with your garden this year!

    2. claudia bassano says:

      Try cutting lavender back hard in early spring

  13. Zone matters, but soil matters even more. I live in zone 5, but our soil here is filled with heavy clay. It’s great for pottery but not so good for gardening. So lavender doesn’t like it so much… I do incorporate compost and mulch into the soil every year, but the clay always manages to find its way back (sigh).

    1. The one thing you can do is add gypsum to your soil. It helps to soften the soil for better planting. Use it every year to keep the soil looser. Also add a little sand. It too loosens the soil but not too much sand. Hope that helps.

    2. claudia bassano says:

      Add sand for lavender

  14. Janice schaub says:

    I have tried several of those cant fail plants. I fail. Lavender does not like me. Clematis does not thrive. Some of the others fizzle out after a year or two instead of spreading. I am not sure what the problem is. I am always on a buget so its sort of disheartening to loose so many. I tried a Peony many years ago but not since as I had no luck. I am wondering if they would do well in a pot?
    Loved this post and I will follow now
    Janice

  15. I also love sedum in a perennial garden. They are hardy, drought and pest resistant, and colorful well into Fall.

  16. Ann I have lived in the same house for 42 years. My yard is big and I have never planted anything! I have always wanted pretty flowers but I never knew where to start. I have thought, bought tons of idea books, it was to overwhelming After finding your web site I am going on your recommendations and doing something this year. I have made this one of my yearly goals.
    Thanks for the inspiration. If something fails and does not grow, I may blow up a picture of your garden, laminate it, then stick it in my yard!!!

  17. Michelle Mortensen says:

    I love all the plants you’ve chosen. Unfortunately, some do not grow in my zone (like peonies – sad face). However, lavender does a wonderful job in Santa Barbara. It smells so wonderful. It has many uses. And, best of all, it reminds me of visiting Provence!
    Best,
    Michelle from simplysantabarbara.blogspot.com

  18. Donna Whelan says:

    Wonderful list. I agree with all your choices. I have all but the lavender in my gardens. They grow yesr after year.

  19. I just love seeing the brilliance and health of your beautiful gardens! Must be that time of year :) I’m in zone 8 – right near Washington State (Canadian side tho!) and hostas do fabulously here, as do peonies and my lavender is going *insane*…clematis too! I think I’ve seen all of these plants here, but for those of us with only containers to garden (sniffle – condo living in the expensive city) what are our options for cut flowers? I drool over peonies every year, but can they grow in containers, I wonder? Really looking forward to more posts on gorgeous gardening, home decor and yummy baking – I always enjoy seeing your emails pop up in my box – it’s a treat!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Kimberly! I think there are quite a few perennials that could do well in pots. I know hydrangeas do well. You could try the daisies too. They make awesome cut flowers. You could buy a small peony plant and try it in a large pot. It would be worth a try!

  20. Ann—-I seriously thought this would be a post that I wouldn’t find to be useful for me, and perhaps people who are in a different zone than you. But I was delighted to see that every single plant and flower you featured is a tried and true in my garden…and most likely in many climates. I have a bit of a problem with lavender…I think I may have simply planted it in the wrong spot so Ill try again.

    I absolutely love your landscaping…please do more garden posts this season!

    Jane xx.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      I hear you about the lavender. Mine has never done well but I am not giving up!

  21. TwoPlusCute says:

    I am trying to tame our yard and I am looking exactly for hardy+perennials. Pinning this post in my garden board.

  22. Marlene Stephenson says:

    Some i already have and some i don’t but you do seem to have the best. I love phlox they smell so good. Thanks Ann.

  23. I have all of them! They are hardy and colorful!
    Thank you for sharing .

  24. I have been looking forward to your gardening posts since last year or so. These posts are what made me follow and fall in love with your blog. Any chance you would like to fly out to my house to help me out with my flowers and gardening? ;)

    Ohhh, what if I sent a picture? You could offer advice? Maybe as an ongoing series for readers?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hmmm. That’s an idea. Let me think about it for a while!

  25. jeannette says:

    Love all the plants you listed. I’m in a fairly new house and tried my luck with lavender- along a walkway. Did my research and it should have been fine….after 3 years I gave up and pulled it all out. I’ve replaced it with lots of Black-eye Susan so we will see how they do this year if the snow can ever leave! lol
    My clematis are doing well and this is probably my favorite plant. Love the look of peony but I’ve read that ants love this one, so I’ve not planted any.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      The ants do love peonies. I planted mine away from my house along a fence. Once they bloom the ants go away. They are worth it in my opinion!

    2. Susan Buck says:

      Hi, I live in Canada and most of the flowers you listed grow here depending on location. I love peonies, you do not need ants for them to bloom however the syrup like liquid as the buds open do attract some! If planted to deep they will not flower.
      Love reading garden articles! Thanks

  26. Donna Marie says:

    I have 9 out of 10 so I am headed in the right direction!!!

  27. Laura Ingalls Gunn says:

    A great and truly timely article Ann! Thank you!

  28. Ellie LaJuett says:

    Great pics, easy to grow and beautiful colors! Can’t wait to get down and dirty in the garden!!!

  29. Tracy@www.bluridgevintage.com says:

    I am so with you on the yard. I think the big bad wolf came by and blew the little pigs house down all over my yard. Sticks are in places I didn’t think they could go. This is a great list and I love each of them. We have wild Black-eyed Susan’s in our field (I definitely take advantage of that) and the Hosta are my great stand by if I need something reliable in an area.