15 Best Zone 8 Plants to Put In Your Garden

Colorful Perennials for Spring and Summer

Stella de Oro daylily yellow flower closeup.
David Beaulieu

Plants in a perennial garden in zone 8 must be able to hold up to a fair amount of summer heat. This challenge can be mitigated through mulching, irrigation, and proper site selection. Or you could grow an early-spring bloomer that beats the summer heat. Select flowering plants that will give your garden color throughout spring and summer.

Your choices include not only classic perennials but also bulb plants, tuber plants, ground covers, and ornamental grasses.

  • 01 of 15

    Tall Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

    Closeup of deep-pink garden phlox flowers.

    Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images 

    Tall garden phlox is a must-have for the summer garden. It is a long-blooming perennial (mid-summer to fall), produces an impressive display (numerous flowers on a plant that usually stands 24 to 36 inches tall), and comes in many colors. It is, however, susceptible to powdery mildew, especially in zone 8 and higher. Powdery mildew will not kill your plant, but it will negatively impact its appearance. To minimize infestations of powdery mildew, provide tall garden phlox with extra spacing, seek mildew-resistant varieties, and avoid overhead watering (irrigate it at ground level).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purplish-red, white, lavender, pink, rose, purple, salmon
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: A fertile, loamy soil that drains well
  • 02 of 15

    Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

    Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) flowers in pink.

    shene/Getty Images

    Some plants that we think of as shade plants can actually take quite a bit of sun in the North, providing they are given an adequate amount of water. The common bleeding heart is one of them. But, in zone 8, this perennial should definitely be treated as a shade plant. Standing about two feet tall, its claim to fame is its uniquely shaped flowers.They truly do look ever so much like little hearts with a drop of blood falling out at the bottom.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade in zone 8 (Partial shade in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage, evenly moist, humusy
  • 03 of 15

    Firebird Coneflower (Echinacea 'Firebird')

    Firebird coneflower with its orange flower.
    David Beaulieu

    The firebird coneflower grows up to to 34 inches tall and sports bloom with a bright orange color. It attracts birds to the yard, offers winter interest with its namesake "cones," and makes for a good cut flower. Its drought tolerance is a real plus for gardeners in an area as hot in the summer as zone 8 is.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Orange
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun in zone 8 (full sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, average-to-below-average water requirements, tolerant of poor soil
  • 04 of 15

    Becky Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum 'Becky')

    Becky shasta daisy flower closeup.
    David Beaulieu

    Becky shasta daisy stands three to four feet tall and grows in clumps. This perennial bears the classic daisy flower with white petals surrounding a yellow center. It demands a soil that drains sharply, as waterlogging in winter can kill it. Divide it every three years or so to rejuvenate it. Deadhead it during the summer to foster additional blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun to partial shade in zone 8 (full sun to partial sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage is the main requirement.
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

    Ajuga plant with blue flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    Bugleweed has rhizomes that allow it to spread, making it useful as a ground cover as it reaches only six to nine inches tall, even when in bloom. Unfortunately, that same quality makes it potentially invasive, so check with your county extension before planting it. If you do choose to grow it, select a spot away from flower beds where you don't want it intruding. Not only does it bear pretty blue flowers, but the foliage is also an attractive dark color on some cultivars, such as 'Black Scallop.'

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade in zone 8 (full sun to partial shade in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, average water requirements
  • 06 of 15

    Spotted Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)

    Spotted deadnettle with a pink flower.
    David Beaulieu

    Another short ground cover option is spotted deadnettle. It doesn't grow taller than one foot and it is somewhat less aggressive than bugleweed. This perennial has variegated foliage, in addition to its white flowers. It needs little care if planted in full shade, you just need to keep the soil evenly moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade in zone 8 (partial shade to full shade in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, with average water and fertility needs
  • 07 of 15

    Creeping Thyme (Thymus spp.)

    Red creeping thyme in bloom.
    David Beaulieu

    A better-behaved ground cover than either bugleweed or spotted deadnettle is creeping thyme. It also stays shorter, reaching just two to six inches tall (depending on variety). The trade-off, however, is that it is neither as showy nor as good at suppressing weeds. The flowers are small, but this perennial does boast aromatic foliage. Care primarily takes the form of keeping its soil evenly moist and removing weeds that spring up in its midst so that the latter do not crowd out your creeping thyme.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, evenly moist, and of average fertility
  • 08 of 15

    Stella de Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro')

    Stella de Oro daylily flower closeup.
    David Beaulieu

    Stella de Oro daylily bears golden, trumpet-shaped flowers and is widely used as an edging plant. While the flowers last only for a day, they are quickly replaced by new ones and can rebloom from early May till September and October. Stella de Oro, which stands nine to twelve inches tall, is a vigorous grower and needs minimal maintenance. Just mix compost into the soil annually to promote fertility and drainage. This plant performs best in zone 8 when it is given a bit of shade in the afternoon.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Golden
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade in zone 8 (full sun to partial shade in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Average moisture, humusy, well-drained
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Stargazer Lily (Lilium 'Stargazer')

    Closeup of Stargazer lily blossoms in deep pink.
    David Beaulieu

    Unlike Stella de Oro, stately Stargazer, which grows up to four feet tall, is a true lily. It is grown for its large, bright, bi-colored flowers. A full-sun plant in the North, give it a little shade in zone 8 unless you are sure that you can keep its soil evenly moist at all times. Although perennial, Stargazer is grown from a bulb. You can plant the bulb in either spring or fall, six to eight inches deep.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink to crimson, with white margins and dark spots
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun in zone 8 (Full sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, evenly moist, and loamy
  • 10 of 15

    Harmony Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata 'Harmony')

    Reticulated iris flower closeup.
    David Beaulieu

    Another perennial bulb plant to put in your zone 8 garden is Harmony reticulated iris. Among the first plants to bloom in spring, it puts out tri-colored flowers that are mainly purplish-blue, with a touch of yellow and white. A dwarf, it stands at just nine inches tall when in bloom. Reticulated iris often spreads via offsets; if it doesn't do so for you on its own, help it out by dividing it after its blooming period.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Purplish-blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained and evenly moist; fertilize with a bulb fertilizer
  • 11 of 15

    Dahlia (Dahlia)

    Bi-colored dahlia flower.
    David Beaulieu

    Dahlias grow from tubers and, unlike bulb plants such as reticulated iris and Stargazer lily, are tropical and sub-tropical plants. Even though they are technically hardy to zone 8, many gardeners there dig up the tubers in fall and overwinter them inside. The plant often performs better over the years if given this treatment. Dahlias are valued mainly for their large, colorful flower heads. There are many types, and they range in height from one to six feet.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Fuchsia, white, salmon, orange, red, yellow, lilac, bi-colored
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun in zone 8 (full sun to partial sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained and evenly moist; fertilize with organic flower food with a low nitrogen ratio
  • 12 of 15

    Red Hot Poker Plant (Kniphofia)

    Yellow 'Mango Popsicle' torch lily flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    This perennial comes in dwarf cultivars that stand as little as two feet tall, while the standard red hot poker plant can reach as much as four feet in height. In either case, it is grown for its long, colorful flower spikes. The plant blooms for a long time on its own, but you can coax more flowers out of it through deadheading.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, white, bi-colored
    • Sun Exposure: Partial sun in zone 8 (full sun to partial sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage is the main requirement.
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

    Paprika yarrow with its red flower head.
    David Beaulieu

    Since, as with tall garden phlox, yarrow is susceptible to mildew, take steps to minimize infestations. Be sure to provide it with more than enough spacing to promote air circulation, buy mildew-resistant varieties, and avoid overhead watering.

    You will be rewarded for your efforts with a perennial as valued for its feathery foliage as for its flowers. The flowers are small but come in tightly packed flower heads, and they are available in a number of bright colors. Yarrow stands three feet tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, red, yellow, bi-colored
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun in zone 8 (full sun in the North)
    • Soil Needs: Good drainage is the main requirement.
  • 14 of 15

    Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)

    Brunnera Jack Frost in bloom with variegated leaves.
    David Beaulieu

    Siberian bugloss performs well in zone 8 as long as you give it shade and keep its soil moist. The 'Jack Frost' cultivar is named for the silvery appearance of its foliage. This cultivar can grow to 18 inches tall when in bloom but is a more compact plant when not flowering. It is a perennial, with blue flowers in spring. The flowers are reminiscent of forget-me-nots, but its variegated foliage (green and silver) is what it is grown for.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, rich in organic matter, and kept consistently moist
  • 15 of 15

    Golden Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola')

    Garden bed of Hakone grass plants.

    Jacky Parker Photography/Getty Images 

    Don't forget ornamental grasses when planting your zone 8 garden. Their foliage provides a backdrop for your flowering plants. Golden Japanese forest grass (also commonly known as "Hakone grass") offers not only such a backdrop but also a rich golden color that makes it worth growing in its own right. It stands at 12 to 18 inches tall. The one thing it will ask of you in zone 8 is that you mulch it so as to keep its roots cool during the summer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: It has a yellow-green flower (but the flower is insignificant)
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained