I have a sunny flower bed and I want to plant perennials with lots of color, but I can’t seem to get a combination of plants to let me have color from April to August. I have daffodils that popped up in late February and are finished now. I have peonies that are up and I am guessing will bloom in three or four weeks. I have two butterfly bushes that I know will last through a big part of summer, and I have yellow coriopsis in front of those that will be good in the middle of summer too. But I don’t have much that will be in bloom in late April, May, and early June. Can you make recommendations for what I could add to the bed (it is in sun most of the day) that would give me color at the time I am missing?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Gail in Kentucky: A well-landscaped perennial garden will provide interest during at least three seasons of the year, if not all four. The trick is planting perennials that will bloom at different times of the growing season. In general, perennials have a bloom time of about three weeks. Some are better bloomers than others but none provide as much color as an annual would. You might consider planting a few annuals among the perennial garden so that your space is never lacking in color. As far as sun-loving perennials that will bloom for you in April, May, and early June, there are too many to rattle off but here are a few suggestions: amsonia, which has a blue bloom early in the spring with stunning fall color. Baptisia is also a spring bloomer and available in purple and yellow. Dianthus is a low-growing grass-like perennial available in assorted colors. Hardy geraniums are great bloomers and typically come in purple or pink. Echinacea will provide blooms for a good part of the summer and are available in an array of color options. Pervoskia or Russian sage is a must-have in a sun-loving perennial garden. It blooms most of the summer, and is left up in the winter as its silvery foliage provides nice structure in the winter garden. Shasta daisies are good bloomers and nice for cut flower arrangements. These are just a few options but you should visit your local garden center to see what they have available. A knowledgeable staff member should be able to give you specifics in terms of bloom times. For a more detailed list of sun-loving perennials for Kentucky gardeners you can visit www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho76/ho76.htm
. This publication also has detailed information on bloom times.