Yard and Garden: Selecting Perennials

June 13, 2019, 1:52 pm | Richard Jauron, Willy Klein

AMES, Iowa – When it comes to perennials, putting the right plant in the right garden location is key to plant survival with minimal gardener input. Iowa State University horticulturists guide gardeners to Iowa hardy perennials, and point out ideal growing conditions. 

What are some good, low maintenance perennials?  

Siberian Iris blue color by stavrida/stock.adobe.com.All perennials require some maintenance. Watering, fertilizing, pinching, staking, deadheading, dividing and providing winter protection are common maintenance chores. Some perennials require frequent attention through the growing season. Others require minimal care once established.

Low maintenance perennials for sunny locations include ornamental onion (Allium spp.), blue star (Amsonia spp.), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), false indigo (Baptisia spp.), gas plant (Dictamnus albus), hardy geranium (Geranium spp.), false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), daylily (Hemerocallis spp.), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), blazing star (Liatris spp.), garden lily (Lilium spp.), daffodil (Narcissus spp.), peony (Paeonia hybrids), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), moss phlox (Phlox subulata), balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), coneflower (Rudbeckia spp.), perennial salvia (Salvia x superba), stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile/Sedum spectabile) and ornamental grasses (various species).

Low maintenance perennials for partial to full shade include lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis),  goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.), Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense), heartleaf brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla), turtlehead (Chelone spp.), bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.), barrenwort (Epimedium spp.), hosta (Hosta spp.), woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and ferns (various species).  

Which perennials grow well in dry, sunny locations?  

Perennials that tolerate dry soils include yarrow (Achillea spp.), wormwood (Artemisia spp.), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), false indigo (Baptisia spp.), threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora), false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile), blazing star (Liatris spicata), catmint (Nepeta spp.), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), moss phlox (Phlox subulata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), goldenrod (Solidago hybrids), lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) and ornamental grasses (various species).  

Which perennials grow well in wet soils?  

Perennials that grow well in moist to wet soils in sunny locations include sweet flag (Acorus calamus), rose milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum/Eupatorium purpureum), queen-of-the-prairie (Filipendula rubra), rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos), Japanese iris (Iris ensata), Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), prairie blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya), and obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).  

Perennials that perform best in moist to wet soils in part shade include Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), goatsbeard (Aruncus spp.), turtlehead (Chelone spp.), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.).  


Photo: Siberian Iris blue color by stavrida/stock.adobe.com.


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