In today’s post I’m sharing my favorite perennial flowers for an easy summer garden and the essential supporting cast of characters that make all your summer flowers look their best.
In the last few years, I’ve really realized that perennial flowers and certain shrubs are really the plants and flowers that bring me the most joy in my garden and that I enjoy caring for the most. Vegetable gardening is fun and interesting, but easy-to-grow perennial plants really have my heart these days. I think it’s partially that filling a garden with perennials is a little like decorating a timeless home. You’re creating something beautiful to enhance your enjoyment of your everyday life, but you’re also planning for the long-term, keeping in mind that things will change and come together in different ways over time. Perennial gardens also just put on the most amazing show and there seems to be something new to appreciate and be amazed by every day during the growing season. Also, let’s face it, if you choose your perennials wisely, they’re really easy. They give you a big reward and ask for so little in return. The perennials and shrubs that might be considered “essential” are of course different for everyone and every garden, but I thought it would be fun today to share some of my favorites that I don’t ever want to live without. Here are my essential perennials for an easy summer garden here in USDA hardiness zone 6b.
Some of My Favorite Plants in My Summer Garden
Hostas | Hostas create a great foundation for your perennial gardens, blocking out weeds and lending a calm rhythm to your garden when you use them in repetition. I find myself almost forgetting that hostas actually have blooms, but they really are one of the best perennial flowers in midsummer. I’m surprised and delighted by how joyful the tall spikes of purple or white flowers actually are every summer, after I’ve been enjoying their lush green leaves all spring. I have strong options about growing hostas and I’m not afraid to share them: Seven Hosta Mistakes That Everyone Keeps Making.
Ferns | Always an elegant, timeless choice and one of the best plants for shady areas, both in planters and directly in the garden. Read: How to Actually Keep a Fern Alive
Roses | Technically a shrub not a perennial flower, but such a wonderful addition for bringing movement and personality to any flower garden, both when they’re in bloom and when they’re not. One of my favorite rose tips: How to Use Epsom Salt for Roses
Solomon’s Seal | These herbaceous perennials adapt so beautifully to any shady growing location. This is one that is truly low maintenance and just seems to come back every year stronger and fuller no matter where you put it. It blooms in late spring then provides beautiful height in your shade garden with graceful arching leaves for the rest of the season. I think every new gardener should grow Solomon’s seal because it just gives you such an instant feeling of success in the garden. Read: How to Grow Solomon’s Seal.
Peonies | A late spring/early summer favorite and arguably the most-loved cut-flower bloom around, but they take the form of a beautiful, dark, leafy shrub for the rest of the summer, which is just as welcome in my garden. An absolute necessity if a cottage garden is your preferred planting style. Learn how to make more peonies from your one plant here: How to Successfully Divide and Transplant Peonies.
Catmint | A drought-tolerant sun lover that blooms from mid-spring right through until autumn. Just like the name suggests, cat really are drawn to catmint, especially if you tear off a few leaves to release the aromatic oils from within the foliage. Read: Growing Catmint – Delightful and Well-Behaved
A Few More Essential Companion Plants to Pair With Your Perennial Flowers
Hydrangeas | Another one that’s technically a shrub, but so necessary as a focal point and to provide shape and structure in my foundation gardens. These panicle hydrangeas are very tolerant of sun exposure, but are perfect as well if your shaded flower bed needs something a little larger as a focal point. Is it really summer without hydrangeas? Read: How to Plant Panicle Hydrangeas
Creeping Jenny | This one is often sold in garden centres as an annual for use in containers, but it makes the most beautiful bright chartreuse ground cover for shady or partly sunny areas. Creeping Jenny can change its shade of green pretty dramatically based on how much sunlight it receives at different times of the year and it’s just so interesting to watch. It can spread quickly, but you can easily just pull it out with your hands to control where it ventures in your garden. I love when creeping Jenny turns a deep rusty red in autumn as well. Read this article to learn how to grow it here: How to Grow Creeping Jenny as a Perennial
Boxwoods | Another shrub, but an absolutely essential element to so many different perennial garden situations to provide structure and greenery throughout the year, and they don’t need full sun, which comes in very handy. This evergreen shrub needs a little care to get established, but after the first year or two, they’re pretty much maintenance-free and will continue to be an essential element in your garden for decades. I would go so far as to say that they’re quite drought-tolerant once they’re well established. If you’ve had trouble with growing boxwoods before check out this post: How to Grow Healthy Boxwoods
Rose of Sharon | This is such a fun one. These shrubs/trees require zero attention from you all year, but suddenly burst to life with beautiful tropical looking flowers right at the peak of summer. Read: How to Propagate Rose of Sharon
MORE IDEAS LIKE THIS
- How to Divide and Transplant Hostas
- How to Get Ants Off of Cut Peonies
- Emergency First Aid for Hydrangea Problems
- How to Fix Leggy Petunias and Make Them Look Fuller
- What to do When Your Hydrangea Leaves Turn Yellow
- The Creek Line House Gardening Archives
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.