Having a beautiful garden every month of the year can be quite a challenge. Depending on where you live, your growing conditions can make choosing the right plants for year-round appeal a difficult task. But we’re here to make it easier. Just incorporate a few of these top selections for year-round perennials, and you’ll be sure to have a touch of beauty in every single season.
(Echinacea, Zones 3 to 9)
Not many perennials have won over gardeners and nature lovers the way coneflowers have. Easy to grow and available in lots of colors and sizes, they’re a delight year-round, with summer and fall flowers—in purple, orange, red, white and green—on 2- to 5-foot-tall stems, and seedpods for winter interest.
Why we love it: The fall bloom and seedpods add beauty to the fall and winter garden and provide food for the birds.
- Walters Gardens
(Amsonia, Zones 5 to 9)
A perennial wildflower that blooms in May and June, bluestars have five pale-blue flower petals growing in clusters on 2- to 3-foot stems. The feathery foliage adds texture to the garden all year long. Try amsonia tabernaemontana, hardy in zones 3 to 9 (shown in photo).
Why we love it: The upright stems with narrow leaves are attractive all summer and turn a beautiful golden-yellow in the fall.
(Epimedium, Zones 4 to 8)
Barrenwort’s low-growing habit and delicate flowers work wonders in shady, otherwise bare areas under trees and shrubs. Growing 5 to 24 inches high and 8 inches to 3 feet wide, barrenwort has thin stalks of colorful, fairylike spring blooms in shades of yellow, beige, white, pink, red and purple.
Why we love it: Barrenwort’s evergreen heart-shaped foliage emerges and often retains a pink edge or tint that deepens to bronze in fall.
- Walters Gardens
(Sedum, Zones 3 to 9)
The blooms of many sedum shine when gardens need color the most, becoming brighter as summer fades into autumn. Their flower color improves as the temperatures cool. The succulent foliage can be green, variegated or purple and for some varieties turns yellow, orange or red
in late fall.
Why we love it: Truly a top perennial, it boasts brilliant fall color and remains steadfast as a winter accent.
- Walters Gardens
Japanese silver grass
(Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 4 to 9)
Ornamental grasses are a must-have in four-season gardens. This one grows 3 to 12 feet tall or more, with whisklike heads of reddish to silvery flower clusters that mature into fluffy seeds in fall. Try the striking Morning Light or narrowly upright striped Strictus.
Why we love it: The golden-beige fall foliage and striking seed heads that hold their form through winter make this grass a proven choice.
(Iris sibirica, Zones 3 to 9)
This tough and hardy favorite has blue, lavender, white or yellow flowers that grow 24 to 36 inches high on grassy clumps of slender leaves. After the flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, the foliage remains attractive until late autumn.
Why we love it: Golden foliage is a pretty addition to a fall garden. Large, dark seedpods stand out in winter and provide a treat for birds.
(Iberis, Zones 3 to 9)
Like late-season snow, candytuft flowers bring drifts of fluffy white to the spring scene. Clusters of flowers bloom from early spring into summer, leaving evergreen foliage to maintain interest year-round. Growing 6 to 18 inches high and 6 to 24 inches wide, this groundcover is mainly white, but Iberis umbellata also has purple, pink or red blooms.
Why we love it: For gardeners who can’t get enough of candytuft flowers, there is Autumn White, a reblooming variety that will stage a second coming in the fall.
- Walters Gardens
(Phlox subulata, Zones 3 to 8)
Creeping phlox is a smaller, low-growing, hardy relative of the familiar fragrant summer perennial. When it blooms in spring, it forms a cascading carpet of pretty little blossoms. Growing 2 to 6 inches high and 12 to 20 or more inches wide, creeping phlox flowers can be found in pale- to deep-purple, white, pink, red and bicolors.
Why we love it: Masses of colorful flowers appear in spring and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The foliage is evergreen.
(Bergenia, Zones 4 to 9)
The large glossy leaves of bergenia offer year-round bold texture in the perennial garden or mixed border. Purplish-pink to pale-pink or white flowers emerge in spring on 12-inch stems. Start new plants by dividing and resetting clumps after three or four years of flowering.
Why we love it: Beautiful spring flowers start the show, and heart-shaped—often evergreen—foliage stays green
or turns bronze in fall.
(Geranium, Zones 3 to 8)
Certain species of the popular perennial geranium have lovely fall color that may persist through winter as well. Depending on the variety, many perennial geraniums grow about 18 inches tall and spread to 24 inches wide.
Why we love it: We love when a flower that’s known for its spring beauty bewitches us in the fall. Try Biokovo Karmina for a long-lasting fall show, or Brookside, with sapphire-blue flowers and lacy dark-green foliage that turns reddish-orange in fall.
There’s nothing like ornamental grasses to dress up a year-round garden. Try one or more of these in your landscape for interest in all seasons.
- Prairie dropseed
- Blue fescue
- Feather reed grass
- Blue oat grass
- Indian grass
- More From Birds & Blooms