15 Best Zone 7 Plants to Put In Your Garden

Colorful Perennials for Spring and Summer

Pink hollyhocks in bloom.
Stuart McCall/Getty Images

Gardeners in zone 7 are fortunate. When selecting perennials for the garden, they can focus more narrowly on aesthetics than can gardeners in the far North or the deep South. The former are plagued by cold winters, the latter by intense summer heat. This limits them in their plant selection, as many plants dislike one or the other (or both) of those extremes. Zone 7 gardeners reside comfortably between the two extremes and are freer to select the loveliest flowering plants to give their gardens color throughout spring and summer.

Your choices include not only classic perennials but also bulb plants and ground covers, as well as ornamental grasses and other foliage plants.

  • 01 of 15

    Mealy-Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue')

    Planting of many Victoria Blue salvia plants in bloom.

    Anshu/Getty Images

    Mealy-cup sage, which must be treated as an annual in the North, is cold-hardy in zone 7. Standing 18 to 24 inches tall, this perennial has striking blue flowers and is useful, for example, in red-white-and-blue color schemes. For the best displays, deadhead the flowers (both to keep the plant fresh-looking and to promote additional blooming).

    • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, evenly moist, of average fertility
  • 02 of 15

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

    English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) blooming and massed together.

    Shelly Chapman/Getty Images

    As a Mediterranean plant, all that lavender asks of you is to give it plenty of sunshine and soil that drains sharply. It likes its ground on the dry side; boggy soil would spell death for it. Technically a sub-shrub (and often classified as an herb because of its wonderful fragrance, so popular in potpourri), treat it as a perennial flower. It stands two to three feet tall; so if you mass it together, you can create an eye-catching display.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium, well-drained
  • 03 of 15

    Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

    Black-eyed susan flower.
    David Beaulieu

    Black-eyed Susan is common but has an uncommonly lovely flower. This long-blooming perennial stands two to three feet tall. Native plant lovers in North America will want to give it a spot in the native perennial sun garden. Black-eyed Susan is drought-tolerant, so irrigating it won't take up much of your time, but it does spread. You may end up occasionally having to pull it out of areas where you don't want it growing.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Golden
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium, well-drained
  • 04 of 15

    Canna Lily (Canna)

    Canna Lilies Blooming In Park

    Bijin Babu/Getty Images

    Canna lily isn't a true lily (genus, Lilium), but its flowers have all the flamboyance we associate with classic lilies. The Tropicanna type gives you the bonus of variegated leaves. Canna grows from a rhizome. A sub-tropical and tropical plant, you will have to dig the rhizomes in fall to overwinter them indoors in zone 7. Canna can reach as much as six feet in height, tall enough to function (in mass) as a summertime hedge or as the backdrop for shorter plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Orange, red, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, evenly moist, enriched with humus 
    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 05 of 15

    Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis)

    Fritillaria with its hanging orange flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    Whereas canna is a tender perennial and shines in summer, crown imperial is a cold-hardy perennial in zone 7. It gives you great color on a tall plant, three feet, in spring. It grows from a bulb, which should be planted in fall. It can be short-lived, but at least pests tend to leave it alone. This is probably due to its skunk-like odor, which repels deer as well as smaller pests such as voles. Some great landscape plants come up short in the aroma department, so think twice before declining to try crown imperial just because of its smell.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Orange, red, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Very well-drained (mix sand into your soil to loosen it if it is too clayey)
  • 06 of 15

    Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

    Butterfly weed with its orange flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    Asclepias tuberosa is a butterfly magnet, but it is also a lovely plant in its own right. Mass several plants together whether you want to attract butterflies with it or just to appreciate its beauty more fully. This perennial stands around one to two feet tall. It is drought-tolerant once established and may even spread naturally by seed if you don't remove the seed pods after flowering.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Orange, yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained 
  • 07 of 15

    Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)

    Joe-pye weed plants with blue sky backdrop.
    David Beaulieu

    Standing five to seven feet tall, Joe-Pye weed is a stately plant that works well in the back row of a native plant garden. It blooms in late summer after many perennials are done flowering for the year, so it is useful for gardeners planning for sequence of bloom. Since it is a wetlands plant in the wild, its main requirement is evenly moist soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade (partial shade best in zone 7)
    • Soil Needs: Moist 
  • 08 of 15

    Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)

    Pink hollyhocks in bloom.
    Stuart McCall/Getty Images

    A traditional cottage garden plant, hollyhock is another stately specimen. A row of hollyhocks growing along a white picket fence forms a classic rustic design. The six-foot stalk is studded with flowers that cling close to it, with minimal foliage to get in the way. This makes hollyhock the ultimate tall, skinny border plant. It can be a short-lived perennial or a biennial plant. Give it sun, water, and organic matter and watch it grow.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, white, "black" ('Nigra' cultivar)
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, enriched with humus 
    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • 09 of 15

    Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus')

    Maiden grass with a white house as background.
    David Beaulieu

    Ornamental grasses give you another option for your zone 7 perennial garden. They complement your flower choices well because they offer traits most flowers lack. Maiden grass boasts a graceful form on a six-to-eight-foot frame. It has coppery flower heads in early fall that later become silvery-white plumes. Its stems also become red in the fall. Maiden grass provides much-needed winter interest if you wait until spring to remove the old stems.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Coppery
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained (although reasonably tolerant of clay soil)
  • 10 of 15

    Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)

    Liriope spicata ground cover in bloom and massed together.

    Natasha Sioss/Getty Images

    Large plants have their uses, but gardeners who have small yards will generally be seeking smaller plants. Many of the latter fall under the general heading of ground covers, and lilyturf is one of the most popular of these types of plants. This flowering perennial stands nine to 18 inches tall and is valued for its foliage as well as its flowers. It can spread via rhizomes and can be invasive, so check with your county extension before planting it. Practice slug control for this plant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Light lavender, lilac, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 11 of 15

    Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

    Candytuft's bloom (image) has an interesting petal pattern. It is a white perennial.
    Behold the intricate petal pattern of candytuft! David Beaulieu

    Candytuft is another ground cover, standing 12 to 18 inches tall. This perennial has brilliant-white flowers, making it perfect for moon gardens. A plus in zone 7 is that its foliage is evergreen and holds up well enough to offer winter interest. Since it's a Mediterranean plant and craves sharp drainage, give it a gravelly soil. The plant can get gangly-looking in summer, so prune off the top one-third of candytuft's growth after flowering is done. This keeps it looking tidy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun in zones 4 to 6, but a little shade is all right in zones 7 and 8
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 12 of 15

    Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis)

    Yellow alyssum flowers amid phlox flowers and rocks.
    David Beaulieu

    A third ground cover that is a must-have for your zone 7 garden is yellow alyssum. This is an ideal perennial to grow behind a retaining wall. Its trailing stems, packed with bright yellow flowers, will cascade down the wall and brighten it up. It's also a good plant for rock gardens. Thriving in poor soil, its main requirement is good drainage. The plant stands six to 12 inches tall. Divide it to keep it vigorous and for propagation purposes. Mix it with other rock garden plants for an even more colorful display.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • 13 of 15

    Plantain Lily (Hosta)

    Ferns and hosta line shaded walkway leading to garden statue.
    Jason Smalley/Getty Images

    Hosta is one of our most popular outdoor foliage plants, and with good reason. There are a variety of sizes and colors to choose from, and it's easy to grow as long as you can keep the deer and slugs at bay. Divide it in spring to propagate it and rejuvenate it. Hosta makes a great edging plant. It can also serve as a backdrop for other plants, especially a good-sized cultivar such as 'Big Daddy.' One of the blue-leaved types, it boasts large leaves (one foot long) on a large plant (two feet tall). The more colorful plantain lilies often lose some of their color as the summer progresses, but Big Daddy holds onto its blue color longer if grown in full shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 14 of 15

    Fringed Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)

    Fringed bleeding heart with pink flowers.
    David Beaulieu

    Not as well known as the common bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), the fringed type is actually favored by some gardeners due to its more attractive foliage. One trade-off is that the plant is smaller (12 to 18 inches tall), and another is that the flowers are less impressive. Although this perennial can survive full shade, it flowers better in partial shade.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pink, reddish-purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, loamy, well-drained
  • 15 of 15

    Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum)

    Fronds of Japanese painted fern.

    kimmac/Getty Images

    Japanese painted fern is a short fern. Its maximum height is 18 inches, but it usually stays smaller than that. It's valued for its tricolored foliage which is silvery, purplish, grayish-green. It's easy to grow once you get it established. To that end, work humus into the soil when you first plant it. Japanese painted fern dislikes too much sun and too little water, so your main care tasks are installing it in at least partial shade and mulching it so that the soil retains moisture. The fronds will lose some color in summer but not as much if you give the plant full shade. Remove fronds that have browned to keep it looking good.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Not a flowering plant
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Consistently moist, loamy, well-drained