Starting a new garden can be intimidating. Seasoned gardeners will often try to give advice that they have accumulated over a lifetime. This can sound like a foreign language to a novice. Don’t worry too much. Creating a new perennial garden, while it can be hard work initially, will reward you for years to come. For the beginner, my advice is: keep it simple! Remove all grass or debris from the area you would like to plant. Make notes of what flowers you see around town. Chances are, you have a similar soil type in your garden. If a plant grows well in your neighbor’s garden, it likely will grow well in yours! Then, fill your new space with perennials! Remember to leave space for how big a plant will get, not the size it is at planting. Perennials typically only need steady water the first season.
Here are my top 10 perennials for beginners in 2021:
• Iris “Immortality”– This German Iris reminds me of clean, crisp white bedsheets. It blooms beautifully in full sun in June with large, fragrant flowers that are the perfect backdrop against a dark-colored house. This drought-tolerant plant thrives on neglect and will almost always send up a second batch of flowers in late August. Split these plants every 3-5 years and share with friends. Grows 30” high, 24” wide.
• Coreopsis “Berry Chiffon” –Tickseed is often planted in sunny commercial landscapes because it is very low maintenance and deer-resistant. It will tolerate almost any soil like a champ. “Berry Chiffon” is loaded with dainty, dark pink daisy-like flowers with white tips on the petals. Great for cutting and attracts butterflies. Want to impress the neighbors? After this plant is done blooming, grab your scissors and cut the entire plant back to 3” tall. New shoots will soon appear with more flowers to enjoy. Grows 12” tall, 24” wide and does not get floppy.
• Echinacea “Cheyenne Spirit”– A blooming mass of this coneflower will draw in many admirers. The plant has large, showy flowers ranging in colors from cream, lemon, scarlet, magenta, lavender and more. Standing 18-30 inches tall, large groupings of these plants can do it all! Drought, deer and rabbit tolerant, thrives in full sun or part-shade, fill in quickly and attracts many pollinators.
• Heucherella “Pink Fizz” – For any plant nerds reading this, Coral Bells and Tiarella had a baby! Heucherella fits beautifully between hostas in the shade garden. “Pink fizz” has maple-shaped soft green leaves veined in burgundy. Tiny pink bell-shaped flowers stand a few inches above the leaves and will add lightness to a cut flower bouquet. Works best in a moist, shady spot in the garden. Grows 8-12” tall and 18” wide.
• “Cream Puff” Shasta Daisy – This plant is for daisy lovers! Large 3-4” white flowers erupt from lemon-yellow buds. The petals are angled both up and down, creating a showy plant from a distance. Grown in full sun, this plant requites truly little work to look fantastic. Great for attracting butterflies and bees and has a long bloom time. Grows 16” tall and 30” wide.
• Monarda “Pink Frosting” – The shorter bee balm are lovely little plants. “Pink Frosting” has showy baby-pink flowers that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds but repel deer. Bee balm is a sun lover and will tolerate light shade. Split this plant every 3-5 years, like most perennials. Grows 14-18” tall, 24” wide. If you have tried Bee Balm but had an issue with leaf diseases, give this one a try!
The Plant Lady is a regional horticulturalist with the goal is of making Bluff Country more beautiful – one garden at a time. Follow her on Facebook @PlantLadyMn for helpful tips and tricks, or via email at ThePlantLadyMN@gmail.com.