BLACK-EYED SUSANS – Rudbeckia
Black-eyed Susans are a must-have for perennial gardens. They feature golden daisy flowers with brown centers, but there is considerable variation in blooming times and heights. Tall Susans are great accents, while short ones like Little Suzy are great fillers. Use them en masse with other meadow flowers to reproduce a meadow look in your own yard. As the seeds ripen, you’ll find the finches are regular visitors, too.
Coneflowers deserve a place in every sunny garden. Summer bloomers, they are a favorite of butterflies. Grow the traditional white or pink forms, or experiment with the newer colors from gold to orange to red. Hint: On the new hybrids, remove the flowers the first season to help them through their first winter.
The classic shade plant, it’s broad leaves bring an almost tropical look to the garden. Many of the varieties have white patterns on the leaves so they brighten and “cool” the shade-garden visuals at the same time. This variegation also comes in gold, for an even brighter look.
Daylilies ARE an old standard. Gardeners recognized how resilient and versatile they were right from the beginning. Requiring very little upkeep, they grow best in the sun, or in light shade blooming reliably year after year.
The bold flowers in red, pink, yellow, orange, gold, or purple may seem simple but in reality can vary from long, thin, trumpet forms to frilly-edged semi-doubles. A must for every garden, daylilies will not let you down. Garden Note: Deer are fond of daylilies.
HEUCHERELLA & HEUCHERA
If you gave a child a big box of crayons and told her to draw plants using all her favorite colors, the result might resemble our selection of heuchera and heucherella. Foliage in black, purple, pink, yellow, gold, silver, green.
Perfect for containers or as garden accents. Grow with a few hours of sun in the morning, in soil that drains well after rainstorms. The evergreen foliage colors are even more intense in the cool weather of spring and fall.
Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly, lavender’s green…… Plant in full sun to intensify the fragrance. Bear in mind, it can be a bit tricky to grow; good drainage is essential. Mulch with pea gravel instead of bark. Lavender in our Perennial Dept. 4½-inch pots and larger.
Spread the Good News! Stepables Perennial ground covers, perfect for containers and small spaces, between stepping stones, beneath birdbaths or mail boxes, in walls or stone stairways.
COREOPSIS – TICKSEED
You’ve come a long way, ‘Baby Sun.’ No longer just the same old golden flowers, we’ve seen a burst of Coreopsis creativity in the last 5 years. Reliable reds, pinks and bicolors, in addition to the standard golds and yellows. “Self-cleaning” plants that bloom all summer without the need for shearing. Compact plants with strong stems. Hybrids of American natives, asking only for sunny days and well-drained soil.
Big tropical color on a hardy perennial! Hardy hibiscus can sit alone as specimen plants and create vertical drama in the back of a garden. They need full sun, and bloom in the middle of the summer. Each enormous flower lasts only one day, but each tall stem bears many blooms and the number of stems multiplies each year. Young plants may require a little staking, but mature plants generally hold their own.
Goldenrod (Solidago) – Not to be confused with Ragweed, the dreaded allergy inducer, Goldenrod is easy to grow, and rewarding. Pollinators agree, it’s the most-favored, late-season nectar plant (based on a recent poll). It’s an absolute must for anyone’s garden. Coming in all sorts of shapes and sizes, there’s a goldenrod to fit almost any situation. There’s even a variety that likes shadier spots. Do nature a favor and try one out. You’ll find that it will make you just as happy as it does the wildlife
Ornamental grasses bring their own unique qualities to any garden. Aside from coming in many different sizes, they lend a special texture to the landscape culminating in seed heads that contrast the surrounding flowers. Some varieties even lend themselves to container gardens making very seasonal fall planter displays.
Sedums have so many wonderful qualities that they are a must have in the sun lover’s garden. Sedums, with their succulent foliage, come in many forms from shorter ground-cover varieties to taller upright plants. Some varieties bloom in the summer while others (especially the upright varieties) bloom in the fall. They are heat and drought tolerant, and bees just love them.
HARDY PERENNIAL FERNS
Ferns are a fantastic addition to the shade garden! Some like moister areas; some tolerate drier places. A few are even native, which makes them well suited to our area! If you are stumped by the variety, just ask! Our perennial specialists would love to help find the perfect one for you.
Yes, you see this ground cover everywhere, BUT there’s a reason for that, it’s super reliable, forming wonderful clumps of vase-shaped green or variegated foliage that mound and spread out slowly. Liriope requires very little maintenance and even produces a lovely violet-blue flower spike in late summer. These are very reliable plants that will grow in part shade and sun. Use in borders or as spot plants throughout a garden to visually separate other plants.
Dicentra eximia – Honestly, we just love this plant! It is one of our longest blooming natives and never ceases to impress with its grace and fortitude. It’s a woodland plant preferring dappled sunlight or bright shade. Give it loose, organic, moist soil that drains well and make sure it doesn’t dry out too much during the heat of the summer, otherwise, it’s trouble free.
Virginia Bluebells, a native plant, are ephemeral, in other words they die back to the ground once blooming has finished and remain dormant until the following year when they will pop back up again in early spring. Over time they will multiply, eventually forming large colonies if left undisturbed. Like their name implies, the blooms are shaped like little bells, emerging dark pink that quickly age to pale blue. Deer tend to leave them alone, and other than needing well-drained soil, there’s really nothing you’ll need to do for them.
BEE BALM (Monarda)
Plant monarda in a nice sunny, open area, and your garden will love you — well at least the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees will be dancing around the garden. In shades of red, pink and purple, Beebalm is well-suited to our area and is a reliable perennial that will come back year after year.
Got Shade? Ferns are the perfect plant to provide a fine-textured accent in the shade garden. You’ll find that ferns exist for just about any spot: Ostrich, Cinnamon, Sensitive, and Royal Ferns normally live in swampy spots so they are good for rain gardens. Christmas Fern is found on drier hillsides, and is evergreen. Wood Ferns and Lady Ferns offer delicate foliage and also tolerate drier soils. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, cinnamon doesn’t come from Cinnamon Ferns. Read our blog post “Larry’s Favorite Native Ferns“
Asters are such a gift after a long, hot season of summer. Just as everything in your yard starts to look tired and worn, asters are ready to shine with color and heaps of perkiness. Almost all of the varieties we carry are native to this area. They grow well in average, well-drained soils. In colors ranging from white, to pink, to blue, to purple, they not only offer great color, but they are a boon for the pollinators that struggle to find food late in the season.
Fall flowering Helianthus are in the sunflower family and native to our area. Producing long lasting, prolific 2-3 inch golden yellow flowers, they provide a source of nectar for late season pollinators and are not palatable to deer. Though there are a few dwarfs, most varieties are tall and are well suited to the middle or back border of the garden. They prefer a sunny area and grow in average soil.
Foamflower is a delight of the woodland garden. Bearing white, or light pink, starry flowers on spikes in the spring, they gently spread by runners or seed. Some are native to the east coast, some to the west, and horticulturists have intermingled them to create new varieties with interesting patterns on the leaves. Grow Tiarella in bright shade or dappled sunlight, moist organic soil that is well drained (not boggy, definitely not dry – think cool forest floor, lots of leaf litter and deteriorating stuff). Makes a wonderful groundcover for the woodland garden, especially fantastic paired with woodland phlox, Lenten roses, ferns, or woodland poppies.
BE BOLD WITH YOUR CONTAINER GARDENS
Let your imagination run amuck this year! First choose a planter that you “love” – a bright ceramic pot, a clawfoot bathtub, or even your old watering can. Then choose plants that compliment and contrast.
Look for bright colors, new textures, interesting shapes. Combine annuals with perennials and tropicals or try your hand at succulents.
The only real “rule” to keep in mind is to combine plants that like the same conditions – i.e. plants that like sun, plants that like shade, plants that prefer a dryer environment, plants that prefer more moisture.
Now, start your imagination and indulge yourself this year!
Perennials, of course, can add flowers to a container garden but there are also many with colorful leaves or interesting textures. These will last throughout the growing season, even if you need to change the flowering annuals from summer to fall. Behnkes is home to the biggest selection of perennials in the area.