As an introverted writer, I’m really fun at parties. As soon as new acquaintances find out that plants and gardening are how I spend my work days as well as my free time, the questions start pouring in.
Over time, I’ve been noticing that I get involved in conversations on two main themes:
What’s wrong with my …? (insert plant troubleshooting question here) and the How do I …? theme. In this latter theme, I think the most common question is a variation of How do I get more flowers for less effort and money?
I always recommend planting perennials that bloom all summer long. You plant them once, then put in a bit of effort to get them established during their first spring and enjoy their flowers for weeks and months every year.
Here’s a list of my favorite perennials that will stay in bloom for a long time.
1. Anise hyssop (Agastache)
I could pretend that I’m starting this list alphabetically, but I’m not. I have a not-so-hidden agenda to get as many of our readers as possible to plant this perennial herb. Not only is it long-blooming (from June until October, in most zones), but it’s also native to North America.
Due to its strong fragrance (leaves, roots, stems and seed heads), critters won’t come anywhere near it. But it’s the same fragrance and anise aroma that translate really well into teas, salads and cookies.
You won’t be the only one tasting it – pollinators love the spiky purple flowers. And once you get anise hyssop established, it will become heat- and drought-resistant and thrive in a sunny, well-drained spot.
2. Bluestar (Amsonia)
The name “amsonia” may not mean much to you, but you’ve certainly heard of bluestars. This herbaceous perennial is native to North America, and you’re likely to see it growing in the wild in different climates and conditions – from the mountains to the coastline and from sand meadows to wet prairies.
Due to its tolerance to a vast array of conditions, amsonia successfully transitioned from a wildflower to a garden ornamental.
Amsonia opens the summer season, with almost true blue star-shaped flowers that start unfurling in May and stay in bloom all through June. Older plants will develop into a shrub-like structure that needs very little maintenance. You might think one amsonia is just like another, but have a look at its different cultivars and you’ll see how much variety there is.
A few different bluestars to choose from include: ‘Threadleaf Bluestar’ or ‘Arkansas Amsonia’ (Amsonia hubrichtii), ‘Eastern Bluestar’ (Amsonia tabernaemontana) and ‘Willow Leaf Bluestar’ (Amsonia tabernaemontana v. salicifolia).