I’m having a bit of a struggle with long blooming perennials at the moment. I don’t have enough of them. Sigh…
And over a cup of coffee, I was lead to the next gardening mystery in my life. Why do I always pick lovely flowers that don’t bloom for a long time?
One of my favourites, a double bloodroot that finally succumbed this year to all the household moves only blooms for a few days. My two favourite peonies also last less than a week each. So I’m resolved to change my stripes and only fall in love with plants that bloom for a very long time from now on. If I have to have a love affair in the garden, let’s make it a long-lasting one. Let’s be real. I fell in love with perennial flowers over 40 years ago and I’m moving back to my roots (so to speak)
I can add Geranium ‘Rozanne’ to this list. This perennial geranium blooms from a mid-June start for the rest of the gardening year. The Perennial Plant Association plant of the year for 2008, I’m in love with it. The bright violet blue blossoms keep coming and coming and will only stop when a hard frost in late September or October knocks them back.
Hardy as all get out, you’re not going to lose this perennial if you give it good sunlight or part shade and decent soils so it doesn’t rot over the winter.
You can easily divide it in the early spring to give you more because once you grow it, I can guarantee you’ll want more. I’m going to be dividing mine next spring to help populate the new front flower beds that have replaced much of the front lawn.
I also plan on falling in love with a few more Hellebore. Mine sulked this year because of their third move in three years but most are still alive even though not blooming.
Hellebore -double white
When they forgive me they’ll be one of the longest blooming perennials in the garden lasting a good 6-8 weeks with their early spring blooms. I collect seeds and am starting a bunch of these plants myself to fill large swathes of some of the shade beds I’ve made. They’ll easily self-sow once happy so like all good love affairs, I’m working on making this a happy plant.
I don’t even have to tell you shade gardeners about Corydalis lutea. I’ve written so much about this longest-blooming plant in the garden that the extra words aren’t needed. Just buy one, put it in your shade to part shade garden and let it do its thing. You’ll thank me.
Hemerocallis or Daylilies
I do love daylilies and the new long-blooming ones have caught my attention. Not only that but if you look closely, you’ll find some of these new ones that are also fragrant. So give me a fragrant, tough repeat blooming daylily like ‘Scentual Sundance’ and I’m yours for life.
Hemerocallis ‘Nosferatu’ (Proven Winners)
These plants thrive in full hot sunshine where few other plants do and also bloom heavily in light shade locations. The more shade you give them, the fewer blooms you’ll see but there’s always a tradeoff in our gardening world. This is my way of saying that you can experiment with many plants and discover that indeed they will survive in places the text books don’t suggest. Mind you, like all affairs, you’ll lose a few here and there as you look for your true love.
And speaking of true love, can it be that I’ve finally fallen in love with a Shasta daisy that won’t break my heart? It turns out that ‘Becky’, another PPA plant of the year, is indeed a hardy and long-season bloomer. Darned if it didn’t live the winter for me and is getting ready to give me some blooms now.
This plant should give you multiple bloom flushes but you do have to deadhead it to keep those blooms coming. I’m not committing myself to this plant just yet, I want to see if she’s truly fickle; for now it is a spring love with great hopes and enthusiasm for the future.
Dicentra or Bleeding Hearts
Because I love bleeding hearts, I think it only fair to point out that some of the shorter varieties such as ‘Luxuriant’ bloom for most of the summer. Because this is an older variety, you may have to settle for the flashier ‘King of Hearts’ but even though the King is a terrific plant, I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy. You could also put in varieties such as ‘Candy Hearts’ or ‘Adrian Bloom’ if you were looking for a young love.
Dicentra ‘King of Hearts’ image TerraNova Nursery
Echinacea or Coneflower
Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ you can grow these from seed yourself
The flashiest of the latest introductions to skewer our hearts are the coneflowers. These new Echinacea varieties in yellows, oranges, mauves and pinks are all long-blooming perennials for the sun or very light shade garden.
Heavy bloomers, they are rock hardy in my garden and bloom from the end of June or early July right through to the end of August. My old favorite is ‘Magnus’ but some such as the appropriately named orange ‘Big Sky Sunset’ have a fragrance and you’ll want to search them out and pay whatever outrageous price to get them into your garden. Remember it only takes two years of growing and you can divide them to fully populate your own garden.
My Best Coneflower Tip
When you buy or grow your own coneflower, do NOT allow them to bloom the first year in the garden. Cut off all flowers stems as soon as you see them. No exceptions.
Doing this will enable the plant to develop a good root system and survive winters. There are multiple reports of the new plants being “tender”. They’re not tender, they simply require a long establishment time. So suck up your gardener’s patience and don’t take a single bloom that first year. After that, let ’em loose to bloom. Those who ignore this advice will tend to pay the price of losing them.
Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’
The last long-blooming plant I’m flirting with is the semi-tender perennial Gaura. This USDA zone 6 hardiness plant isn’t quite hardy in my garden but that doesn’t stop me from flirting with the amazing summer-long bloomer.
I know they’ll likely break my heart but ‘Siskyou Pink’ in bright pink and ‘Whirling Butterflies’ in white are my current loves. True love springs and hopes eternal I’m told.
Is it too much to ask to fall in love with plants that both bloom and last for a long time? If these don’t appeal to you, here’s a bigger list of 28 long blooming perennials