Both beginning and seasoned flower gardeners often succumb to the siren song of lush hothouse flowers on the first warm day of spring. Just as every diet has room for an occasional pastry, every garden has room for fuchsias and Gerbera daisies, but these should not form the foundation of your landscape, any more than croissants should form the basis of your food pyramid.
When you choose hardy, adaptable plants for your flower garden, you don't need to worry about weather vagaries or odd micro-climates claiming your specimens. Instead, you can focus on fragrance, attracting wildlife, and just enjoying the vibrancy of your flowers. These eight perennial flowers will come back reliably each year, whether you live in Florida or Minnesota.
01 of 08
With a native range that stretches from Canada to Georgia, Monarda plants ask for little more than full sun and moist soil. The leaves of this wildflower have a minty fragrance, and when the plant is happy it can also spread like its minty cousin, so pull unwanted plants that form along creeping rhizomes. Or, you can be the delight of every bee, hummingbird, and butterfly in the neighborhood and allow the plant to form a large, handsome colony.
02 of 08
Beardtongue might sound like a term one shouldn't mention in front of children, but it actually refers to a lovely native wildflower that you can find in fields and woodlands across North America. The tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis attract butterflies and birds, and the plants are generally insect and disease-free. Try 'Husker Red,' which features attractive burgundy-hued foliage.
03 of 08
Coreopsis verticillata rose in popularity when 'Moonbeam' won Perenial Plant of the Year in 1992, and now this genus of tickseed is a garden staple for those who want a long season of bloom on a low-care plant.
These cheerful yellow flowers attract butterflies while repelling deer, and don't mind poor, rocky soil. If you like self-seeding plants, acquire an unnamed species, as 'Moonbeam' is sterile.
04 of 08
The pretty and delicate appearance of the perennial geranium belies its tough nature. In fact, unlike the annual geranium, true geraniums like 'Rozanne' can survive a zone 3 winter, and sometimes even zone 2. No deadheading is necessary after the spring blooms of this native plant fade, and seed capsules may lead to a gradual naturalizing of the plant in good soil conditions. The lobed foliage lends textural interest to the landscape throughout the growing season.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
The low maintenance Sedum genus should be a go-to choice for anyone who wants a showy sun-lover that defies drought, deer, insects, and diseases. Although the succulent leaves of many species are colorful enough to lend standalone beauty to the garden, the late summer and fall flowers provide a valuable nectar source to butterflies and bees. Grow upright species like 'Rosy Glow' in the middle of the border in zones 3-9, and spreading, mat varieties like the very hardy 'Red Carpet' as a ground cover.
06 of 08
Common yarrow is beleaguered by some unpleasant nicknames, including devil's nettle and stench weed, but it's the hybrid forms of Achillea that truly stand out in the garden. Flowers can range from bright yellow to red and pastel shades. If you experience flopping plants in hot or humid areas, choose a compact variety like 'Gold Coin Dwarf,' and plant in a sunny area protected from strong winds.
07 of 08
From the unassuming wild Echinacea purpurea, which is still valuable in naturalized areas, horticulturists have given us a rainbow of cultivars, with more new introductions each year. What most have in common is the distinctive spiky bronze center cones, which yield nectar to butterflies and tasty seeds to goldfinches and other birds. Although widely touted as tolerant of drought and poor soils, the gardener's secret is that a light feeding and application of compost will yield stellar results. 'Magnus' is a beloved cultivar sold widely at garden centers.
08 of 08
The daylily is in heavy rotation in professional landscaping design, and for good reason: the rugged flowers grow in wet ditches or along dry sidewalks, and their strappy foliage is typically disease- and pest-free. Each individual daylily flower lasts but a day, hence the common name, but many daylily cultivars have a blooming cycle that lasts for weeks, if not months. Daylily plants are also very long-lived: observe abandoned structures or long-forgotten farmsteads devoid of any signs of life save for the enduring daylily patch, still blooming its heart out in front of a crumbling foundation. Mulch your plants and divide them every five years, and see why many describe the daylily as the perfect perennial.