It’s hard to know which plants will thrive and which won’t. Here’s a list of some hardy perennials that do well sun, shade, or a mix of environments.
It can be hard to know which plants will do well in your garden and which won’t last. Some plants tend to be hardier than others, so here are some suggestions of plants that will last.
Perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind when planting is the amount of sunlight a plant needs. Plants are usually sold with a card that includes this information, along with its height, width, and blooming season. Try to pick plants with needs that align well with your garden’s environment.
Plants Suitable For Full Sun
These plants do best in areas that receive direct sunlight and are in the sun for most of the day.
- Shasta Daisies — Daisies are a flower that almost anyone can recognize, and this, combined with its multitude of blooms, makes it a great addition to any garden. They thrive in full sun, and can work well as both a border flower and a main focal point. Shasta daisies usually reach up to 1-3’ tall, and bloom during June and July, making them an excellent choice for a summer garden.
- Grasses — Grasses are something that is often overlooked by the more casual gardener. We tend to go straight for the flowers and ignore the wonderful complementary feature a nice grass plant can provide. When placed in a garden, grasses can provide a more natural feel than would be portrayed by nothing but flowers. There is a large variety of ornamental grasses, so before making a purchase, be sure to decide where you want to plant these grasses so you can select a plant that will reach the appropriate height. While they can grow in shady areas, most grass plants do much better in a sunny environment.
- Coreopsis — These vibrant yellow flowers can brighten up any garden. Coreopsis plants reach 18-23″ tall and bloom for the entire duration of the summer season. In addition, they attract butterflies and are rabbit- and deer-resistant. They can also withstand hotter temperatures and high humidity. These flowers look great planted together to form a border or mixed among other plants.
Plants Suitable for Shade
These plants do best in shady areas away from direct sunlight. Shade plants are preferable for woodland gardens and areas that are not in the sun all day long.
- Jacob’s Ladder — This plant’s leaves are just as interesting as its flowers. The leaves are green with white outlines, or, depending on the variety, can be purple, and it sprouts either white or blue flowers. Depending on which type you purchase, Jacob’s Ladder can be anywhere from 12-36” tall. This plant is very hardy in shade areas, and does not do as well in direct sunlight.
- Ferns — Like grasses, ferns can create a very natural atmosphere in your garden. They come in various colors and sizes, and make wonderful borders for gardens or paths. Maidenhair ferns, for example, can grow up to 12-18” tall and multiply so that any empty spaces can be filled naturally with green foliage. Ferns in general need consistent moisture, so they are unable to survive for long in direct sunlight, as they quickly dry out. Woodland gardens or other very shady areas are the best environments for ferns.
- Hostas — Hostas are similar to ferns in the effect they can have in creating a more natural look for your garden. There are many types of hostas, and it is easy to choose plants that are the size and color that fit in your garden. One problem with hostas is that deer love them, so you might want to invest in some sort of deer repellent if you have deer in your area.
Plants Suitable for Both Sun and Shade
These plants can grow just about anywhere. They are great for both sunny and shady areas, as well as areas that are part sun or part shade.
- Ajuga — Ajuga, or bugleweed, is extremely hardy. It doesn’t really seem to care if it’s planted in the sun or the shade, and multiplies prolifically so that it provides an excellent groundcover. Its bronze-purple leaves quickly spread out and it sprouts spikes of blue flowers. The leaves grow to 3-4” tall, and the flowers can reach up to 12” tall. The one negative about this plant is that it can grow extremely quickly and take over, but since it is an easy plant to divide and transplant it doesn’t take too much effort to keep it contained.
- Daylilies — Daylilies are often known as the orange flowers seen by the side of the highway. They can grow in both shade and sun, and can establish themselves quickly in a wide range of environments. They can grow anywhere from 1-4’ tall, and their blooms last throughout the summer. Daylilies come in a full range of colors from light yellow to fiery red, and are a colorful addition to any garden.
- Irises — Irises are similar to daylilies in terms of size and propagation. Although most irises prefer sunny environments, they can also do well in areas that have both sun and shade. They bloom early in the summer and produce large flowers that are great for cutting. Irises can be divided every 3-4 years.
Tips for Gardening
When possible, always plant perennials. Not only do you save money by not buying new plants every year, but most perennials can be divided the next year to fill out your garden.
When planting perennials, it can be helpful to place the plastic information card in the soil beside the plant. If you place it close to the base of the plant, the plant will hide it as it grows. Next spring, you will be able to see the cards and you’ll know that this area is already occupied.
By choosing perennials that are both appropriate for the specific garden conditions and are known to be hardy, you will be well on your way to creating a flowering masterpiece.