Perfect Perennials for Sun or Shade
Many plants have multiple cultivars, which can make it difficult to choose one variety from another. Diane Gustus of Bloomington, Minnesota has made it easier. She takes notes on all of the plants in her garden to keep track of which cultivars do better than others.
Diane shares her "Perfect Perennials" list with Birds & Blooms readers. Please note that Diane lists plants by their botanical name, followed by the specific cultivar. This should make it easier for you to find a specific plant.
13 Perennials for Sunny Areas
- Campanula carpatica. Try 'Samantha' or 'Pearl Deep Blue,' which is much better than the 'Blue Chips' cultivar.
- Coreopsis. Try 'Zagreb,' a very reliable plant, which is much better than 'Moonbeam.'
- Fallopia. This shrub-like plant has wonderfully variegated foliage.
- Gypsophilia. Plant 'Pink Fairy,' a pink baby's breath. It's better than the one with white blooms.
- Hemerocallis. Try the daylily 'Happy Returns.' It is a wonderful lemon yellow and also reblooms nicely.
- Hibiscus. Plant 'Disco Belle Pink,' and you should get huge, 12-inch flowers in return.
- Iris ensata variegata. This flower will give you purple blooms and beautifully variegated foliage.
- Nepata. Plant 'Subsessilis or 'Souvenir d' Andre' Chaudron.'
- Oenothera tetragona. This plant, also known as sun drops, blooms for a long time.
- Peony. Try 'Paula Fay' because it stays upright when blooming and doesn't require additional support.
- Phlox paniculata. Plant 'Bright Eyes' to avoid mildew.
- Salvia nemorosa. 'Caradonna' is a very reliable, long-blooming flower.
- Salvia verticella. 'Purple Rain' is a unique salvia with fuzzy leaves.
12 Perennials for Shady Areas
- Adiantum pedatum. Plant 'Maidenhair Fern.'
- Astilbe. Try these cultivars: 'Visions,' 'Rheinland,' 'Bridal Veil,' 'Deutschland' and 'Ostrich Plume.'
- Brunnera. 'Jack Frost' is especially pretty with variegated foliage.
- Chelone. Plant 'Hot Lips' because the foliage looks great all summer, and it's a nice late bloomer.
- Cordylis lutea. This plant blooms all summer and has pretty foliage.
- Dicentra eximia. The 'King of Hearts' cultivar blooms all summer.
- Dicentra spectablis. This is a bleeding heart plant with white blooms.
- Hosta. Try some of my favorites, including 'Francee,' 'Sun Power,' 'Gold Standard,' 'Stiletto' and 'Krossa Regal.'
- Polemonium. 'Stairway to Heaven' has beautifully variegated foliage.
- Polygonatum variegata. Try 'Solomon's Seal' if you want striking foliage. It's especially good under trees.
- Pulmonaria. Plant 'Sissinghurst White' because it's a nice early bloomer.
- Trollius. 'Lemon Queen' has pretty buttercup-like yellow flowers.