Beautiful, reliable perennials come back in our gardens year after year. This spring, choose plants that bloom at different times and combine them with a variety of bulbs, annuals, trees, and flowering shrubs. With a little planning, you can have colorful flowers and foliage for up to three growing seasons.
Use the list below to find plants that can take the heat in your Western garden.
Western desert gardeners, keep reading; we have a separate list for you.
Selections and availability may vary by store.
Perennials For Western Gardens
Asiatic lilies: Even beginners find hardy, sun-loving Asiatic lilies easy to grow. Depending on the variety, the brightly colored blooms open from early summer to midsummer. Cut the sturdy stems to bring inside for arrangements.
Calla lilies: With their lush, green leaves and colorful flowers, calla lilies lend a tropical look to gardens, and they perform best in full sun. They can be grown indoors as houseplants and moved outdoors for the summer, or planted directly in the garden after all chance of frost has passed.
Coreopsis: Coreopsis tolerates a variety of soil types and environmental conditions, making it a popular choice for home gardeners. Tall varieties can reach 4 feet in height and are good for the back of a border and in cutting gardens. Shorter, mounding varieties are more delicate and good for edging. Most coreopsis sport yellow flowers.
Daylilies: Although daylilies prefer at least six hours of sun each day, they’ll bloom with less. Compact varieties like ‘Stella De Oro’ or ‘Happy Returns’ make great container plants.
Gaura: Graceful, sun-loving gauras are exceptionally tolerant of drought and extreme heat and humidity. These perennials are native to Texas and Louisiana. The plants grow as high as 5 feet tall, with pinkish buds held on long, wand-like stems. The flowers open to white and slowly fade back to pink.
Heuchera: Over the last decade, plant breeders have developed shade-loving heucheras in a wide range of colors and sizes. The plants are grown for the interesting colors and textures of their foliage rather than their small flowers.
Hosta: Like heucheras, hostas are grown for their beautiful leaves rather than their blooms. Look for these durable, long-lived perennials in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. Hostas are shade-tolerant and low-maintenance.
Salvia: Also known as sage, tough, drought-resistant salvias need full sun to light shade. Flower colors include white, pink, red, and violet-blue.
Lavender: Lavender tolerates many growing conditions, but it thrives in warm, well-drained soil and full sun. It’s great in gardens as a focal plant or in the back of a border. Grown for fragrance and oil, as well as its green to gray-green foliage, lavender bears purple to blue flowers.
Perennials For Western Desert Regions
Coreopsis, gaura, salvia, and lavender are recommended for the Western desert; see the list above for descriptions of these plants.
Lantana: Depending on the variety, lantanas make great specimen plants, groundcovers, and border shrubs. Try trailing types in window boxes and hanging baskets. Lantanas are also ideal for a butterfly island bed, where they’ll draw lots of colorful winged visitors. You can find the flowers in white, pink, red, yellow, orange, purple, or multicolored.
Rosemary: This plant thrives even in dry, rocky, or poor soil and doesn’t mind the heat. Grow it near a doorway or path so you can brush your hands over it and enjoy the scent. Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers.
Gazania: Native to South Africa, gazania, or treasure flower, is a popular African daisy. This tender perennial has clumps of narrow, dandelion-like leaves that are dark green above and silvery beneath. The flowers come in sunny yellow, gold, orange, cream and other colors.
Desert marigold: Showy desert marigolds have hairy leaves that have adapted to withstand the hot sun and arid conditions of this region. It’s often found growing as a spring wildflower. The yellow blooms start opening in March and reappear until fall; a new flush of flowers can be triggered by rain.
Penstemon: A native of the Western U.S., penstemon, also known as beardtongue, thrives in the heat and sun. The plants produce spikes of tubular flowers in early to mid-summer that hummingbirds find irresistible. Look for pink, red, white, blue and purple varieties.
Ruellia: Sometimes called Mexican petunias or wild petunias, these pretty plants take full sun to part shade and grow fast. Try them in containers or at the back of beds and borders. They are not true petunias.