These Long-Blooming Perennials Will Keep Your Garden in Color All Summer

Keep your garden full of color from spring to fall without having to plant annuals.

These Long-Blooming Perennials Will Keep Your Garden in Color All Summer
Echinacea in garden

Credit: Kabar/Shutterstock

Every summer I grow flats of annual cutting flowers: sunflowers, poet flower, zinnias, stock. I’ve gradually added more and more perennials to my beds so that the beds are mostly full of color and don't require new seedlings every year. Now, I just plant around the perennials with annual color blooms. With the beds established, I’m now trying to ensure the blooms are covering as long a season as possible, both early and late. Here are the long-blooming perennials I swear by.

Spring to mid-summer blooming perennials

I’m attracted to astilbe because it features the same plume shape as one of my favorite annuals: celosia. There are many varieties (and colors) of astilbe but if you grab the right ones, you can have these fluffy cones of color from spring to fall.

astilbe in garden

Astilbe Credit: Tanya_Terekhina/Shutterstock

Zones: 4 to 8

Growing conditions: prefers partial shade; rich, moist, well-drained soil

If I have any garden-related regrets, it’s not growing perennial salvia earlier (there's annual salvia, too). These colorful spikes are hardy hummingbird gold. Plant them in groupings.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 10

Growing conditions: Full sun to partial shade; prefers well-drained soil

Yarrow wasn’t really my bag for a long time—it was primarily yellow or white and looked a lot like bouquet filler. Now, shades across the red, pink and orange spectrum are available, making this the ideal filler. Yarrow is going to spread, so you want to keep it in check, but it is spectacular in summoning pollinators to your yard, and is one of the first flowers in my yard to pop up and the last to go.

Yarrow in garden

Yarrow Credit: Dajra/Shutterstock

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Growing conditions: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil; drought-tolerant

One of the only original plants that remains from the garden I took over 15 years ago is rue. Every year, this shrubby plant reliably grows a crown of yellow flowers that remain until the end of fall. As a cut flower, they fill out a bouquet; left alone, they deter mosquitoes. 

USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 10

Growing conditions: Well-drained soil; drought-tolerant

You just can’t beat roses. They’ll reliably begin blooming in early summer and remain that way until fall. They come in every color and shape and type now, from trees to climbing to miniatures. If you haven’t seen the varieties coming out of greenhouses lately, you should check out a rose grower like Jackson & Perkins—the array is astounding. 

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 10

Growing conditions: Well-drained soil; high organic matter

Mid summer to fall blooming perennials

Aster, particularly Douglas Aster, is a fast-spreading perennial that is highly reliable for late-season color. It is the last thing to succumb to the winter weather in my garden, and although the blooms aren’t as bright as, say, zinnias, they do help to keep the garden from looking rough come fall. 

Zones: 3 to 9

Growing conditions: full sun to part shade; moist, well-drained soil

Coneflower, daisies, rudbeckia and Black Eyed Susans all have roughly the same shape and season. They all come in a wild variety of colors and can all grow to be a fantastic shrub size each summer, helping to fill in the garden. They're a haven for bees and other pollinators. 

Echinacea in garden

Echinacea, also known as coneflower Credit: Kabar/Shutterstock

Zones: 3 to 9

Growing conditions: full sun; well-drained soil

If you’re up for a challenge, Blanket Flower is a tough one to germinate from seed. Once you do, though, it will return year after year with tall blooms that are remarkably resilient. Every year I am sure they're not returning and then, come late June, they appear overnight as if by magic. 

Zones: 3-10

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

I think of scabiosa as the Beetlejuice flower of the garden. I love the twisty stems and lovely dark colors you can obtain the flower in, from black to maroon to purple. A popular pollinator haven, pincushion flower (as it's more commonly called ) is a great understory to your coneflower and rudbeckia. 

scabiosa in garden

Sscabiosa Credit: EQRoy/Shutterstock

Zones: 3-7

Growing conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

While there are other long-blooming perennials (depending on your zone) these are the ones I've reliably come to trust myself in my garden. Most plants will rebloom if you deadhead them (cut off spent flowers before they go to seed). You can purchase perennials, of course, but you can also grow them from seed and in some cases, grow them from cuttings of established plants.