Best Perennials That Offer Long Bloom Periods

Enjoy Summer-Long Color With These Long-Blooming Favorites

Long blooming perennial illustration

The Spruce

One appeal of perennial flowers is that they return year after year, relieving you of the duty of replanting each spring. The drawback is that most perennials bloom for a shorter period than do annual flowers. Some perennial species bloom for only a week or two before fading. If you want a garden where something is blooming at all times, it can be hard to accomplish this if you are using only perennial plants.

But it's not impossible. There are more long-blooming perennials than you might realize, and designing your garden with the right species makes it possible to have blooms from spring to fall, even if you are planting only perennials. While it is possible to achieve constant color by carefully planning a garden with short-blooming species properly sequenced, it is much easier if you choose species that each bloom for many weeks.

Here are several perennial species to consider if your goal is to create a garden with something in bloom at all times.

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Watch Now: 4 Long-Blooming Perennials

  • 01 of 18

    Garden Phlox

    David phlox in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Come July, garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is a staple of the garden. This long-blooming perennial flowers from mid-summer well into the fall, but it can be susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that can be disfiguring although it rarely causes serious damage. However, newer cultivars, such as the white 'David', are mildew-resistant, with foliage that stays nice and healthy-looking all summer. Phlox does best in mild summer temperatures in a location that gets good air circulation. Deadhead spent flowers to prevent rampant self-seeding.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink-purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 02 of 18

    Stella de Oro Daylily

    Stella de Oro (image) daylily is popular.
    David Beaulieu

    Stella de Oro daylily (Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro') is one of more than 50,000 hybrid daylilies created by crossing selected species within the Hemerocallis genus. 'Stella de Oro' is a compact plant (9 to 12 inches tall) known for its very long bloom period (May through July), although individual blooms last for only one day. 'Stella de Oro' requires little care, but it can be divided whenever wanted to propagate new plants. A related cultivar, 'Black-Eyed Stella', is similar in color but is slightly taller with a burgundy center in the blooms.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, gold, bi-colors
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 03 of 18

    Becky Shasta Daisy

    Shasta daisy flower

     

    onepony / Getty Images 

    If you travel back through the mists of history, you will find that "daisy" was once spelled "day's eye"—a metaphor for the sun, and very much reflective of the ambiance created by this plant. It is difficult to contemplate a daisy and not come away with a sunny outlook on life. But this classic flower is more than just eye-candy. Becky Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum × superbum 'Becky') are among the best of the Shasta daisy cultivars—they are tough plants, displaying resilience and endurance which belie their delicate appearance. They bloom from July through September on plants that can grow 3 to 4 feet in height.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White with yellow centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture soil; good tolerance for drought
  • 04 of 18

    Perennial Salvia

    Perennial Salvia
    skhoward/Getty Images

    Salvia is a large genus of plants that include both annual (Salvia splendens) and perennial (Salvia nemorosa, etc.) species. The best perennial forms for long-lasting blooms include:

    • Salvia × sylvestris 'Blauhügel' ('Blue Hill')
    • Salvia × sylvestris 'Mainacht' ('May Night')
    • Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue' 
    • Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' 

    If you deadhead your salvias regularly, these perennials just might bloom all summer for you. Otherwise, they require little maintenance, other than cutting back the stems after flowering is complete. They flower for several months, though the timing of the bloom period varies depending on species. Plants grow to about 2 feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10, depending on species
    • Color Varieties: Blue to violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil
    Continue to 5 of 18 below.
  • 05 of 18

    Russian Sage

    Russian sage in bloom against an adobe wall.
    cstar55/Getty Images

    For a tall plant, Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) has rather small blossoms. But what it lacks in bloom size, it makes up for in bloom numbers, creating an attractive wispy look in the garden. This long-blooming perennial is showy, but in the most tasteful way possible. Plants grow to 5 feet in height, though they may sprawl. They bloom from July through October.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Lavender/blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 06 of 18

    Yarrow

    Paprika (image) is a red type of yarrow. The plant is also known as Achillea.
    David Beaulieu

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an herb plant that blooms all summer, June through September, on stems growing 2 to 3 feet in height. The species form has clusters of white flowers, but cultivars are available that offer flowers in many colors. Yarrow plants were widely used medicinally prior to modern times to staunch the flow of blood. In fact, the medicinal use for yarrow is responsible for the plant's scientific name, Achillea. Today, most of us are more interested in the beauty and low maintenance of yarrow than in its herbal use. Divide the plants every three to five years. Deadheading spent flowers will lengthen the bloom period.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, yellow, red, pink, rust-brown
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil; tolerates drought
  • 07 of 18

    English Lavender

    Lavender flowers (image) are used in sachets. The herb is primarily non-culinary.
    David Beaulieu

    Lavender-scented linens, sachets, and potpourris provide a nice touch in a home and are ridiculously easy to acquire. But even people with no interest in such domesticity grow lavender plants, since they bring a touch of class to the landscape, too. English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) blooms from June through August on plants that grow 2 to 3 feet in height.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9 (depends on cultivar)
    • Color Varieties: Purple, blue; cultivars offering pink flowers are also available
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil; moist soil may cause root rot
  • 08 of 18

    Ice Plant

    Ice plant

     

    F. Lukasseck / Getty Images

    Where a low-lying, long-blooming perennial is called for, ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) is a good choice, both for its vivid flowers and unusual leaves. Growing only 3 to 6 inches high, it blooms from June through September. It is a borderline plant north of zone 6 but may survive in zone 5 if covered with mulch through the winter. Other than this, little maintenance is required.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Red-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry, well-drained soil; good tolerance for drought
    Continue to 9 of 18 below.
  • 09 of 18

    Coneflower

    Coneflower
    Randy Robertson/flickr/CC By 2.0

    A number of species in the Echinacea genus (and their cultivars and hybrids) go by the name of "coneflower," and many of those sold commercially are cultivars or hybrids of selected species, especially E. purpurea (purple coneflower). Coneflowers typically bloom from June through August on plants that grow 2 to 5 feet in height. They will benefit from division every four years or so but are otherwise very low maintenance.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9, depending on the variety
    • Color Varieties: Purplish pink; cultivars offer white, orange, yellow, red, and green
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil; good drought tolerance.
  • 10 of 18

    Threadleaf Coreopsis

    Moonbeam Coreopsis
    F. D. Richards/flickr/CC By 2.0

    The various cultivars of the Coreopsis verticillata species are generally known as threadleaf or fernleaf coreopsis. They produce small, daisy-like yellow flowers on 2- to 3-foot high plants with delicately textured foliage. Popular cultivars include 'Moonbeam', 'Zagreb', and 'Grandiflora', all of which are somewhat more compact, bushier plants. Threadleaf coreopsis can be stimulated into a second fall flush of flowers if the plants are sheared back in late summer after the first period of flowering is done. Other than this, they require little maintenance.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Yellow; hybrids and cultivars also offer pink, red, and bi-color flowers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil; tolerates drought
  • 11 of 18

    Butterfly Bush

    Butterfly bush (image) is pretty, a butterfly magnet - and invasive in many areas. It's perennial.
    David Beaulieu

    The various species within the Buddleja genus are perennials or deciduous shrubs, some of which die back to ground level in colder climates before resprouting in spring. Those sold commercially as landscape plants are generally hybrids and cultivars of selected species, especially B. davidii, and these do not have the same bad reputation for invasiveness as the species forms. Butterfly bush typically blooms from June through September.

    Most butterfly bush species grow quite tall, 6 to 8 feet or more, but several cultivars are more compact plants. One recommended cultivar is 'Blue Chip', a diminutive 1-to-2-foot tall version that does not spread rampantly. Other varieties need to be deadheaded after flowering to prevent spreading through self-seeding.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 12 of 18

    Black-Eyed Susan

    Black-eyed susan flower is known for its cheer. It is a drought-tolerant perennial.
    David Beaulieu

    Like daisies, it is easy to underrate this popular, long-blooming perennial simply because it is so common, but there is often a good reason why a plant achieves widespread popularity. Garden snobs may cling to their hard-to-grow novelties, but it takes true maturity as a gardener to give a plant such as Rudbeckia hirta its due.

    It is popular because it blooms all summer, warms the yard with its cheerful color, and requires minimal care. Black-eyed Susan blooms from June through September in most climates, on plants that grow 2 to 3 feet in height. Deadheading will prompt more frequent reblooming and prevent the plants from spreading through self-seeding. This is a relatively short-lived perennial that some gardeners allow to colonize through self-seeding.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow to orange, with dark centers
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil; good tolerance for drought
    Continue to 13 of 18 below.
  • 13 of 18

    Autumn Joy Stonecrop

    Autumn Joy flowers
    Ron Sutherland/Getty Images

    Until recently, this plant was included in the Sedum genus, but it is now categorized as Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude'. The literal translation of that German cultivar name is 'Autumn Joy,' and that's how most of us refer to this plant. It blooms in late summer, with flowers that gradually darken over several weeks to rust-red or purple by fall. Various cultivars offer different flower and foliage colors.

    Autumn Joy is highly prized for the long-lasting fall interest it provides. The blooms are actually large masses of smaller flowers that clump together in groups 3 inches or more across. Autumn Joy is a very long-lived perennial that grows slowly and requires almost no maintenance, except shearing back the stems to ground level after frost.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Rosy-pink buds deepening to bright rust red or purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 14 of 18

    Catmint

    Catmint Plants
    Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    Do not confuse "catnip"—the herb famous for driving felines into a frenzy—with "catmint." While both are forms of mint (Nepeta), they are different species: Catmint is Nepeta racemosa, a plant valued for landscape uses, while catnip is Nepeta cataria, grown only for the novelty of its effect on cats.

    Catmint typically grows to about 12 inches high and is used as a ground cover, but a recommended cultivar is 'Walker's Low', which grows to 24 to 30 inches tall and blooms from spring through early fall. Shearing the flower spikes after they bloom will stimulate vigorous reblooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Lavender blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 15 of 18

    Spiked Speedwell

    Veronica Spicata in the counter-light
    Willi Schmitz / Getty Images

    Many species and cultivars of speedwell exist, including creeping types. But for a good long-blooming form, try Veronica spicata, especially the 'Royal Candles' cultivar. It produces spikes of blue flowers on plants growing 9 to 12 inches tall and blooms from June through August. Other cultivars grow as high as 3 feet. The key to extending the flowering season of 'Royal Candles' is regular shearing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue/violet; pink and white cultivars also available
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 16 of 18

    Red Hot Poker

    Red Hot Poker plant

    Kerry Garratt/Flickr/CC By 2.0

    Few plants are named more accurately, as the flowers of red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria) match the name precisely. The typical red hot poker (sometimes called "torch lily") grows 3 or 4 feet tall with red and yellow flowers, but a number of hybrids and cultivars are available offering different heights and flower colors. Especially popular are varieties from the Popsicle series, specifically 'Mango Popsicle', 'Pineapple Popsicle', and 'Redhot Popsicle', all of which produce flowers from late spring to mid-summer on plants that grow 1 to 2 feet in height. Spent flower heads should be removed immediately, but no division of clumps is necessary.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Red and yellow; peach and yellow cultivars also available
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
    Continue to 17 of 18 below.
  • 17 of 18

    Dalmatian Bellflowers

    Campanula portenschlagiana (image) is one of several plants called bellflowers. It is floriferous.
    David Beaulieu

    The Campanula genus is a very large one with more than 500 species of annuals and perennials. A very good long-blooming perennial species in this genus is Campanula portenschlagiana, commonly called the Dalmatian bellflower. It is a low, mat-forming plant that blooms for two solid months in late spring and early summer. It is a good plant for edging, ground cover, or for trailing over walls. Under ideal conditions, the plant can spread readily, but it is not too hard to control. Divide plants every three to four years to keep clumps vigorous.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Violet, blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil
  • 18 of 18

    Fringed Bleeding Heart

    Fringed bleeding hearts in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    Fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia) is one of the best long-blooming perennials for shade gardens. It will flower for some three months during the growing season (late spring through late summer in zone 5).

    Unlike its better-known relative, the common bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), this type offers splendid, fern-like foliage in addition to those wonderfully shaped blossoms that any gardener with a sense of whimsy appreciates. However, the heart shapes aren't as perfect as on common bleeding heart. Fringed bleeding heart is also a smaller plant (12 to 18 inches tall, with a similar spread).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, reddish-purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

Seek Regional Advice

While these plants all have long bloom periods, in your particular hardiness zone there may be particular cultivars—cultivated varieties—that are especially well suited. That's because these cultivars are often developed by local university arboretums or plant breeders to meet the precise conditions of your region. Consult a local plant expert or university extension department for recommendations on cultivars of these long-blooming plants that are especially well suited for your garden.

Article Sources
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  1. Ani_ko T. When Perennials Bloom, An Almanac for Planning and Planting. Timber Press; 2008.

  2. What Are the Best Phlox Plants Available, and the Most Mildew-Resistant Varieties?New York Botanical Garden. Gardening FAQ.

  3. Hemerocallis 'Stella De Oro'Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant Finder.

  4. Leucanthemum × Superbum 'Becky' Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant Finder.

  5. Delosperma Cooperi (Cooper's Hardy Ice Plant, Hardy Ice Plant) North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.

  6. Kniphofia Uvaria. Missouri Botanical Garden. Plant Finder.