Perennial flowers also make excellent cover crops for your veggie garden, improving soil and keeping pests away!
Why plant annual flowers every year, when you can plant once and be done?
Perennials are plants that live longer than two years, and many of them live much, much longer.
Once they are planted, they pretty much take care of themselves.
Unlike annuals, they don’t require tilling, mulching, weeding, fertilizing or evening watering after the first year. And… they repair your soil, rather than deplete it.
That’s because their root systems are deeper and more complex than annuals, enabling them to bring nutrients trapped in the subsoil up to the topsoil, making it available not only for themselves, but for any annual food crops you may have planted nearby.
This makes them great cover crops. Not only do they pull up nutrients, they pull down water from above. Water runs right off compacted soil, but the vast root systems of perennials aerate and soften the soil, making it more spongey and more absorbent.
In addition to fixing soil and locking in moisture for food-bearing plants, perennial flowers will beautify your garden year after year, with no work on your part.
And, if you plant a wide variety, you’ll have new waves of various colored blooms coming in and out throughout the year.
Below are some of our favorites selected not only for their beauty, but their long-lasting hardiness:
1.Bee balm. Not only is it a bee, butterfly and hummingbird magnet, it repels deer! It’s delicate, crimson petals taste like honey, and it’s super medicinal in teas, salves and tinctures. Found in meadows and along woodland edges, bee balm is one of the most beneficial plants you can grow in USDA growing zones 3-9.
2. Hostas. These hardy plants offer a tropical vibe with purple or white blooms from summer to fall. They do well in the shade (or a bit of sun), and can survive for decades in the right conditions. They’re new shoots are also edible! They’re also great for USDA growing zones 3-9.
In fact, here they are growing side by side with bee balm in our food forest in Asheville, NC:
3. False Indigo. Basically disease-free and pest-free, these beauties will also live for decades, growing about 4-feet tall. They’ll paint your garden with splashes of Royal purple and blue In the late spring/early summer. Hardiness zones 5-9.
4. Daylily. For a quick burst of crimson in the early summer, throw in some daylilies. Each bloom will only last a day, but there are several in each stem, and you’ll be delighted to catch a glimpse of their fast-fading glory. These plants are virtually indestructible, Surviving extreme temperature changes, fluctuating rainfall, etc. Zones 4-9.
5. Phlox. Starting in early spring, low-growing phlox blooms as ground cover. Then during the summer months, the tall phlox — three to five feet in height — pop up, creating a colorful backdrop for any low-growers. The star-shaped flowers emit a strong, pleasant fragrance. Zones 2-9.
6. Lupines. These exotic delights are usually found growing in the wild, but will adapt perfectly to your garden. They vary in color from red to white, yellow, pink and purple, blooming throughout spring and summer. They’re also known as Texas Bluebonnets. Zones 4-7.
7. Butterfly bush. These flowers require a bit more maintenance (pruning) than the others, but it’ll attract beautiful butterflies in summer and fall. The flowers also come in white and dark purple, but lavender are most appealing to butterflies. Zones 5-10.
8. Hydrangeas. These giant blooms have been popular for a long time for their classic beauty. Their petals appear tie-dyed in pink, blue, purple and white. Many live over 50 years, blooming in summer and fall. Zones 3-9.
9. Yarrow. Another great snack for pollinators, Use this fast-growing ground cover to create meadow-like wide open spaces. Once the red, yellow, white and pink starts to fade, cut the flowers off to keep them blooming all summer long. Zones 3-9.
10. Coneflowers (echinacea). These bold purple, orange, pink and yellow flowers are medicine, not only for you, but for butterflies, throughout summer and fall. They are fast-growing a drought-resistant. Zones 3-9.
11. Sage. This famous culinary herb also produces pretty purple flowers. It also feeds hummingbirds, bees and butterflies spring through fall. They grow up to 5 feet tall, even in hot heat and drought. Zones 5-10.
12. Lavender. Another beautiful culinary herb, lavender will make your yard smell lovely as well. This Mediterranean plant also tolerated drought and heat. Zones 5-9.
13. Tickseed. Another pretty pollinator attractor, these daisy-like flowers add a splash of cherry, bright yellow. They can also be used in medicinal teas. Zones 4-9.
14. Allium. These purple pompoms are part of the onion family so feel free to eat a few. As a bonus, they tend to repel rodents, deer and other pests. The long skinny stems grow almost 3 feet tall, making them stand out against lower ground cover. Zones 3-9.
2. Shasta daisies. These classic flowers will quickly fill any empty patches in your garden with cheery splashes if white and yellow. Their long-lasting blooms will last spring through fall. Their leaves can be tossed into salads. USDA hardiness zones 5-8.