Posted by: Dennis Hinkamp on May 18, 2007
Lazy Gardeners' Guide to Perennials
ASK A SPECIALIST: DO YOU HAVE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EASY-TO-GROW PERENNIALS?
Answer by: Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension Horticulturist
Some perennials must be pampered and regularly tended. Others can survive rough, negligent conditions. With another low-water year upon us, perennials that can survive harsh conditions are top choices for most gardeners. Consider these suggestions.
- Iris. Some people think of the iris as a weed, since it is not particularly attractive when it finishes blooming. When it flowers, however, it is spectacular. Plant the iris with other perennials so it can hide behind showier flowers when blooming time is over.
- Sedum. Sedum prefers hot, dry, full-sun conditions and is noted for its thick, attractive foliage. Some varieties such as Autumn Joy have colorful flowers that are quite attractive in the fall. Sedum is a succulent plant and is often used as a groundcover. Most sedum is not aggressive, and combining several varieties creates a nice planting.
- Hosta. This shade-loving plant has large, attractive leaves. It also flowers, but is mostly planted for its foliage. There are hundreds of varieties with many leaf sizes and colors. Hosta is a good choice for somewhat shady locations. One problem with hosta is that snails love the leaves. Use a snail trap or bait at night to reduce the damage.
- Echinacea. Also known as coneflower, this native plant does well in Utah’s climate. New varieties include pink, purple, orange and yellow colors. Echinacea has few problems and is versatile. Though it is very drought resistant, it can still tolerate heavy, somewhat wet soils.
- Daylily. This perennial is a true survivor and grows almost anywhere. New varieties with different blossom hues are developed every year. Daylilies should be divided every few years and can grow in full-sun to part-shade locations. They are a nice summer bloomer for most yards.
- Gaura. This is an often-overlooked perennial. Its tall, wispy pink, red or white blossoms sway in the breeze, making a wonderful backdrop for most perennial beds, especially when planted in groups. Gaura starts blooming in late May and continues through the fall.
- Scabiosa. This perennial is often referred to as the pincushion flower because of its uniquely shaped purple, pink or blue flowers. It adapts easily to most growing conditions.
- Spiderwort. Spiderwort has a unique blue, purple or pink flower that opens in the morning and fades by the afternoon. It can be planted in full sun or part shade. It blooms throughout the early summer and is very drought tolerant.
- Solidago. Also known as goldenrod, this native plant is classified as a weed in some people’s gardens. Through recent breeding programs, however, many new attractive varieties such as Fireworks and Golden Baby are available. They bloom in the late summer and are very drought tolerant.
- Perennial Blue Salvia. This plant produces blossoms on tall spikes in the early summer. Deadheading encourages re-blooming, though the plant is not as showy later in the summer. Blue Salvia adds vertical shape to any perennial bed and is virtually pest and problem free.
Consider planting some or all of these easy-to-grow perennials this summer. These perennials shouldn’t run up the water bill and can be planted together to provide welcome color throughout the season.
Direct column topics to Julene Reese, Utah State University Extension writer, Logan, UT 84322-4900, 435-797-0810; firstname.lastname@example.org.