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10 EASY PERENNIALS FOR SUNNY GARDENS

Sun-loving perennials are high-energy plants that use the sun's energy to fuel their growth and flower production. In most cases, the more sun these perennials get, the better they bloom.

To keep a sunny flower garden colorful from spring through fall, you need to include a variety of perennials that bloom at different times during the growing season. The earliest perennials start blooming just after the tulips. These include peonies, iris, clematis, candytuft and dianthus. Next come summer-bloomers such as bee balm, echinacea, daylilies, liatris, yarrow and phlox. The last perennials of the season include sedum, rudbeckia, asters, kniphofia, mums, Russian sage and helenium.

Bloom times are always approximate and vary depending on your growing zone and the weather conditions during the growing season. Adding annuals and summer-flowering bulbs to your perennial beds will ensure you always have something in bloom. Removing spent flowers will keep your garden looking neat and in some cases will stimulate plants to produce another round of blossoms.

Most perennials will return to bloom again year after year with very little attention. Below you'll find some of the top performers. These perennials are known for their vigor, longevity and dependable performance in a variety of growing conditions.

PEONY

Peonies are hardy, long-lived plants that bloom for generations. Most varieties are fragrant and all are wonderful cut flowers. There are hundreds of different varieties of peonies to choose from, with a range of flower styles, colors and bloom times. Peonies are also valued for their foliage, which stays lush and green all season long. These carefree perennials deserve a place in every flower garden.

CLEMATIS

Clematis are climbing vines that will scramble up an arbor or trellis, cascade over a fence or tumble down an stone wall. There are many different flower styles and colors to choose from. Planting two or more varieties of clematis beside each other, will extend the bloom time for a month or more. Some clematis varieties will grow 8 to 10 feet tall, while others grow just 3 to 4 feet tall and are perfect for growing in small spaces or containers.

LIATRIS

This North American native plant is also known as blazing star and gayfeather. The wand-like flowers are violet-plum and have a fuzzy texture. The plants grow from corms, and once planted, they return reliably for many years. Liatris are not fussy about soil and they never need staking. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and are excellent for cutting. 

DAYLILY

It's hard to go wrong with daylilies. These plants tolerate almost any type of soil, wet or dry. They will grow in hot sun or light shade, and flower for months. Plant breeders have introduced hundreds of daylily varieties with different plant heights and flower styles. Colors now range from almost white through yellow, orange, red, pink and purple. Daylilies are a great choice for difficult areas, yet also a beautiful addition to flower gardens.

ECHINACEA

Plant breeders have turned this native wildflower into a high-performing perennial that's now available in many colors, including white, pink, orange, red and yellow. Echinacea's daisy-like flowers have prominent cones that look attractive even after the petals fall. The flowers attract butterflies and the seedheads are a songbird favorite. 

GARDEN PHLOX

Phlox is a classic, summer-blooming perennial with big clusters of sweetly fragrant flowers on sturdy stems. Flower colors range from snowy-white through pink, purple and even orange, with many beautiful bi-colors as well. Phlox is an excellent cut flower and attracts both bees and butterflies.

LILIES

Lilies add color, fragrance and elegance to perennial gardens. Combining several different types of lilies will give you months of blooms. Start with upward-facing Asiatic lilies, followed by trumpet lilies, Oriental-trumpet lilies and Oriental lilies. Lilies are available in a wide assortment of colors and all are long-lasting cut flowers. 

RUDBECKIA

This late summer perennial is better known as black-eyed Susan. Its daisy-like flowers have dark brown centers surrounded by golden-yellow petals. Rudbeckia grows almost anywhere, as it's not fussy about soil or moisture. After the flowers fade, the seed-filled centers attract goldfinches and other songbirds. Generally grows about 24" tall.

COREOPSIS

Many of these tough, yet attractive perennials were bred from native wildflowers. They require little water and don't mind poor soil. All have daisy-like flowers and thrive in hot summer sun. Choose from a range of different flower colors and flower sizes. Plant heights vary as well, from 12" to 36". All coreopsis have pollen-rich centers that attract butterflies and bees.

SEDUM

Sedums are rugged, sun-loving succulents that tolerate both heat and drought. There are many different types. Some hug the ground like a carpet, while others stand up to 3 feet tall. Sedums typically begin blooming in mid to late summer and their flowers persist for months, changing color with the seasons.

To learn more, you may be interested in reading How to Select Perennials for All-Season Color or Planting and Caring for Perennials.