Your Ultimate Guide to Flowering Perennials: Which Popular Plants Bloom When?
Learn when the most beloved flowers and shrubs make their debut, then plan a garden that pops with color all year long.
Count on the perennials in your garden to make a much-welcomed appearance at approximately the same time every year. Unlike annuals, which bloom all season then die, never to return unless you get a new plant, perennials bloom for shorter periods but come back year after year. By planting different perennial flowers and shrubs with an eye on early, mid, and late growing seasons, you can have a garden that looks bountiful from early spring to late fall.
Fortunately, there are many varieties within a perennial family that have different bloom periods, allowing your favorite flowers to have a long presence in your garden for a good part of the year. To give every plant a better chance to grow big and strong, put about an inch of compost into the soil in early spring and again in the fall to fortify the plants with nutrients. Add mulch, which offers health benefits to plants as well—a two- or three-inch layer will help keep the soil and roots cool, resulting in more blooms.
Mulch will also keep the soil moist, and that helps keep perennials from becoming stressed. A stressed plant is not a happy plant and that will be reflected in a lack of growth. Spread mulch about an inch away from the crown—where the stems join the root, or basically any part of the plant that's above ground—to avoid root rot.
Early Spring: Hellebore
An early bloomer, helleborus orientalis is known as green hellebore. It pops up in December and grows until March. It is known for its saucer-shaped flowers and its preference for partial shade and works best in zones four to nine.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Peony
This showy flower blooms in May and June and grows in full sun to partial shade. If you live in zones three to eight, you'll have lots of success planting it.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Lilac
The fragrant and delicate lilac is a spring bloomer (though it's still around in early summer) that's known for its distinctive light purple color. Its essential oil is used by herbalists to treat minor skin ailments. If planted in zones three to nine, this beautiful plant will produce lots of sweet flowers each year.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Salvia
Known also as wood sage, salvia requires nothing less than full sun exposure (six to eight hours a day) but it's considered low maintenance. Give it a try if you're in zones four through eight.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Forsythia
Sometimes used a border flower, forsythia is a springtime favorite for the months of March to April. Give it full sun and part shade and it will blossom magnificently, but only if you live in zones five to eight.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Scabiosa
Also known as pincushion flowers, scabiosa is low-maintenance with petals that attract butterflies. Its blooming season lasts from April to October in zones five through nine.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Astilbe
This plant that's partial to shade makes a colorful splash in any garden. Besides pink, it's also available in red and white. It grows from May to June in zones four through nine.
Late Spring to Early Summer: Azalea
Azalea is part of the rhododendron family. The difference between the two is the number of blossoms—azaleas have one per stem while rhododendrons have many. This flowering shrub, which thrives in zones four through nine, typically blooms from May to July and is easy to grow.
The iconic red poppy makes its entrance in June and its exit in July or August. Though red is most popular shade of this perky perennial, don't overlook the gorgeous varieties in orange and red. You'll have the best success with this dainty bloom if you live in zones three through ten.
From July to September, you can find this full-sun worshipper, which is in the same family as daisies and sunflowers, in many colors, such as red, pink, lavender, purple, orange, yellow, and white. This statement flower grows best in zones seven through ten.
This accommodating perennial will grow in full sun to partial shade and does best in zones three through ten. True to its name, the flower's blossoms fall off every day but new ones grow back quickly. The extremely popular Stella de Oro variety grows from May to August.
Summer: Black-Eyed Susan
It's hard to not notice this striking flower with yellow petals and dark brown, cone-like centers. It's easy to care for and ensures blooms from July to September when you live in zones three through seven.
A well-known species is the shasta daisy, which has white petals with yellow centers and blooms from June to September. This beloved flower also can be found in tangy colors like yellow and orange in zones five through nine.
Summer: Japanese Anemone
Part of the ranunculus family, this flower blooms in the late summer days of August and stays until October. Anemones are similar to tulips in that they close at night and open back up in the morning. Make space for these fun flowers if you live in zones six through nine.
A flowering shrub, hydrangea is sought-after for its gorgeous colors—blue, pink, green, white, and purple—and for its signature round shape. Its blooming season runs from May to September, and the beautiful plants are at their showiest in zones four through nine.
An excellent cut flower, asters bloom from August to October and do best in full sun in zones three through eight. They're a favorite of butterflies.
Summer: Hardy Begonia
The begonia's large, heart-shaped leaves form a verdant backdrop for clusters of delicate pink flowers. The growing season extends from July to October and you'll find the most sucess with this pretty perennial if you live in zones six or seven. Annual varieties are also available.
Summer: Rose of Sharon
A rose is a rose is…not a rose. This flowering shrub produces colorful blossoms that are not roses, but rather part of the hibiscus family. They're great for late summer color if you live in zones five through eight—from July to October they grow best in full sun to partial shade.
Fall to Frost: Chrysanthemum
The quintessential fall flower, chrysanthemums (or mums, for short) deliver a lot of flowers, with its fluffy head of petals. They bloom from September until the first frost, and you'll see these colorful flowers everywhere in zones five throught nine come autumn.
Fall to Frost: Viola
This hard-working flower blooms not just in the fall but also makes a return visit in the spring. It requires full sun and should be planted in zones four through eight. Though known for its magnificent purple beauty, violas also grow in other colors, including yellow and white.