Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Perennials

Around a tree to fill up a shady garden area, near your mailbox, framing an entry sidewalk - or maybe just in the showy spot of a mulch bed.... Perennials have many available locations and can add to the value of almost any landscape.  Here are my top ten favorite perennials:

Hosta - Hosta plantaginea - Also known as Fragrant Plantain Lily.  Hosta is a plant that does not bloom profusely but has beautiful foliage.  Needs some shade and is an excellent choice for highly shaded areas.  Use plenty of compost when planting.  There are many excellent varieties.  My favorite is 'Francee'.

Ajuga - Ajuga reptans - Also known as Bugleweed.  Best used in a mass planting for a ground cover.  Excellent plant for denseness and keeping weeds out.  Plant 9 - 12 inches apart.  Much easier to maintain than vinca and other vines that folks use for ground cover.  Blue flowers in the spring.  My favorite variety is 'Bronze Beauty'.

Dianthus - Dianthus gratianopolitanus - Excellent heat tolerant, full sun capable, spreading ground cover.  Thin Blueish-green foliage.  Small pink blooms in the spring.

Verbena - There are a variety of botanical (latin) names for this plant - enough that being specific isn't important.  You want a low growing spreading variety.  Purple is a popular color for this plant and it should bloom from mid spring to late fall. 'Biloxi Blue' is my favorite.  Can take full sun but does need regular irrigation.

Daylily - Hemerocallis - I don't know if this is my favorite plant or not... but I certainly use it the most.  It is a versatile flower that can be used most anywhere except deep shade.  I really like to mix two varieties - 'Stella D Oro' and 'Happy Returns'.  Take an average sized bed and accent it with 20 of each, mixed together and planted 6" on center.  You will have beautiful yellowish blooms all summer.

Phlox - Phlox paniculata or Phlox subulata -  The simple difference is that subulata is a lower growing ground cover type (similar to Dianthus in my opinion) and that paniculata is more upright 2 - 4' clumping type flower.
Although I use both types of Phlox in my designs, I do not have a particular favorite.

Lantana Miss Huff - Lantana camara 'Miss Huff' - Absolutely beautiful multi-colored summer plant.  Attracts birds, bees and butterflies.  I think best if you cut it back to the ground every winter.  It will still be 4' or taller by summer.

Black Eyed Susan - Rudbeckia hirta - One of the more popular flowers in America.  Also one of the easier to grow.  Thrives in full sun.  So easy that some recommend planting it in roadsides and open fields.  The state flower of Maryland. A popular cut flower,  can last in a vase 6 to 10 days. I like it's close cousin - Purple Cone Flower - Echinacea purpurea.

Chrysanthemum (or Mum) - Dendranthema x grandiflorum - A beautiful fall blooming small shrub that we are all familiar with.... So how do you make yours stand out?  My preferred care is to cut it back to ground level in December.  Add about an inch of mulch for winter.  I like to cut back older mums around Easter.  I find we get fuller and better blooms by severely cutting back the emerging plant.

Miscanthus -  A genus of several species of grasses native to Africa.  Pictured above is Miscanthus sinensis 'Little Zebra' - one of my favorites.  Another close cousin, and reasonable substitute would be Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

No comments:

Post a Comment