In the gardening world, annual flowers generally refer to those that complete their entire life cycle in one growing season, and perennial flowers are those that return year after year. However, not all perennials are created equal. It's frustrating to design a new flowerbed around your favorite perennial flowers, like delphiniums, Shasta daisies, and pincushion flower, only to see them peter out after three or four years. Other perennial flowers are notorious for their longevity. These are the specimens you see in old neighborhoods, planted when the homes were built, and still blooming decades later. Choose these, and use the money you'll save in subsequent growing seasons for lush hanging baskets or container gardens.
01 of 09
Balloon flowers deliver that coveted shade of blue that blends well in any garden design, without the finicky needs some blue flowers exhibit. A native of China, these flowers endure a wide range of temperatures and conditions in full sun or partially shady gardens. Compact varieties that don't need support are the easiest to grow, including 'Apoyama' and the container-ready 'Sentimental Blue.' Once settled in, balloon flowers rarely need to be divided, and don't require deadheading, although shearing may produce a second flush of blooms at the end of summer.
02 of 09
Sometimes confused with daisies, Rudbeckia plants are the later-blooming, longer-living cousins in the Asteraceae family. Although the classic gold flowers of plants like this 'Goldsturm' variety are common in garden centers, you can find gorgeous burgundy and orange toned varieties, as well as fluffy doubles that act as enduring stand-ins for lookalikes such as zinnias or dahlias.
03 of 09
Hybrid tulips and hyacinths are attention hogs in the spring garden, but these are some of the shortest-lived perennial bulbs you can plant. Instead, choose hardy daffodils, which will multiply over the years to form a handsome naturalized colony in flowerbeds or wild parts of your property.
04 of 09
Have you ever noticed a wild clump of daylilies on the side of a highway or back country road? This should give you a clue to the tenacity of the versatile daylily. If you like orange hues, try a hybrid like the more civilized 'Orange Crush' shown here. Or, branch out to many shades of the rainbow, as you can get blooms in all shades except for pure white and true blue. Drought tolerant and nearly pest-free, some consider daylilies to be an essential part of any blooming landscape.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Unlike the pelargoniums sometimes referred to as geraniums at the garden center, true geraniums are hardy perennials that will grow and return in the unforgiving climates of Siberia and Alaska. In addition to the delicate flowers, gardeners also appreciate the ornamental foliage of some varieties, which features divided leaves with dark colored bands.
06 of 09
You may have noticed the fluffy stems of liatris in your cut flower arrangements, and wondered where the exotic looking flowers came from, but cultivars like 'Floristan' pictured here couldn't be easier to grow. The North American wildflowers still grow on prairies and grasslands, nourishing butterflies and bees with nectar-rich flowers that bloom from the top down. Grow in full sun and average soil in USDA zones 5-9.
07 of 09
Pulmonaria plants like this 'Mrs. Moon' cultivar will already be blooming before many perennials have even emerged from the soil. Depending on the variety you plant, you will see petite white, pink, or blue flowers complemented by highly ornamental foliage with interesting white freckles. Give it ample moisture and rich soil, and watch a few plants multiply into a dozen over the seasons in your woodland garden.
08 of 09
Peonies take a few years to get established in the garden, but the wait is worth it. Just ask any bride who pays a premium to include these softball-sized, fragrant blooms in her bouquet. Plant them in well-drained soil, in a sunny spot, and keep the eyes just below soil level to ensure many years of spring blossoms.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Include a selection of these easy perennials in your deer-resistant garden for late spring to early summer blooms. Although not invasive, irises do need dividing every few years to maintain vigor. Share a few rhizomes with friends, and they can enjoy the same three-foot flower spikes in their floral arrangements as you.