From the Desk of Ed Hume: Summer Color With Perennials

June 25, 2012 at 10:12 PM Leave a comment

There are some outstanding perennials that provide great color in the summer garden.  The various growing heights, leaf textures and foliage colors are added bonuses.  Of course, the benefit of using perennials is that they come back each year.  Here are just a few favorites that you might want to consider including in your garden:

CHRYSANTHEMUMS
There are both summer and fall flowering varieties.  They come with single (daisy flowering), semi- double, or fully double flowers and in a wide range of colors.  Plants vary in height from about 1 1/2 to 3 feet in height depending upon variety.  The taller varieties make excellent cut flowers.


PENSTEMONS

In my opinion this is one of the most over-looked summer perennials.  There are over 250 species, available in a broad range of colors.  What I like about them is that they continue to bloom all summer if you keep the spent flowers picked.  Most hybrids grow about 2 to 4 feet high and come in a broad range of colors including pink, red, rose, blue, purple, and white with a few bi-color varieties.  Plants tend to grow upright on stocks, similar in growth habit to a delphinium.  Plant them in a spot where there is good drainage.

PHLOX (P. paniculata)
An old-time favorite, the clusters of flowers of many varieties are fragrant.  Most grow 3 to 5 feet high.  There are a few varieties of other species that grow a bit lower.  Colors range in shades of red, rose, pink, lavender, white, and some that are bi-color.  Because of their height you want to plant them at the back of flower and shrub beds.

ASTILBE (A. x arendsii)
This is a wonderful summer perennial for the moist, shady garden.  Most varieties grow 12 to 36 inches high.  The plumes of flowers stand above the delicate green or reddish leaves.  Flowers range in shades of pink, rose, peach, red, lilac, lavender, purple, or white.

LAVENDER
One grower mentioned that they grow over 30 popular varieties in full sun where the soil is well drained.  This perennial is especially popular because of its fragrance and because It can be used fresh or dried as a cut flower.  It also has many uses for cooking, fragrances, and for attracting butterflies, bees ,and other interesting creatures. etc.  Heights of most varieties range from 15 to 30 inches. Lavender and purple flowering varieties are most popular.

HOSTA
Commonly called Plantain Lily or Funkia.  These plants are ideal for the shade garden.  Most have distinctive leaf color and interesting leaf size and texture.  The flowers of some varieties have a very pleasant fragrance.  Over winter the plants die back completely, so mark their spot so you don’t disturb the dormant roots.

Plus, there are perennial varieties of both lobelia and geraniums that are excellent summer flowering plants.  Black-eyed Susan, hardy fuchsias, monarda, delphinium, and heuchera are just a few others.  You’ll probably even find some you like better growing (in containers) and flowering at your favorite nursery or garden center. 

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Ed’s Podcasts: Common Herbs to Deter Insects Ed’s Podcasts: Summer Perennials

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