My 10 Must-Have Summer Perennials

I am a hopeless collector of perennials. I can always find a spot in the garden for new additions. While I love trying new plants I have a few mainstays that I rely on for gorgeous flowers and foliage year after year.


Daylily (Hemerocallis sp.)

Zones 2-10; size varies with species and variety; summer

I’m excited that I now have developed 2 new varieties this year out of my daylily breeding program. I can’t get enough of this old reliable favorite.

Hyssop Color Spires® Steel Blue (Agastache)

Zones 6-10; 18-24 inches tall, 18 inches wide; blooms summer through fall; heat and drought tolerant; attracts butterflies

I love this plant. It has been a tremendous performer in my garden. No staking needed. After the flowers fade I cut back the old bloom stalks and it keeps on trucking.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Zones 5-9; 36 inches tall, 24 inches wide; blooms mid-summer through fall; drought tolerant; deer resistant

The wide drift at the farm is spectacular from mid May to late June. After the bloom I cut 25% off the top and it will flower again late August through September.

Mexican Sage ‘Santa Barbara’ (Salvia leucantha)

Zones 8-10; 20-36 inches tall,24-36 inches wide; blooms summer through fall; attracts butterflies; drought tolerant; deer resistant

This plant is a mainstay in the late summer garden. It always gets comments from our visitors.

Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Zones 4-8; 24-36 inches tall, 24 inches wide; blooms mid-summer into fall; attracts butterflies

We trialed this variety Flame™ Purple last summer. It proved to be an excellent re-bloomer right through the intense heat we experienced in July and August.

Lamb’s Ear ‘Helen von Stein’ (Stachy byzantine)

Zones 5-10; 12-18 inches tall, 24 inches wide; heat and humidity tolerant

‘Helen von Stein’ has grown in the garden at the Garden Home Retreat for the last 5 years. Love the giant leaves and fuzzy texture.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’

Zones 6-9; 24-36 inches tall, 24 inches wide; use silver-gray foliage a bridge between colors; drought tolerant

The frilly foliage looks great with Supertunia® Royal Velvet and Superbena® Royal Chambray Verbena.

Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)

Zones 4-9; size varies with variety; blooms in summer; good for partial shade too

Heucheras are beautiful as singular sensations in containers. Plant 1 variety per pot. Many of the newer heucheras like Dolce® Key Lime Pie can take a half day of sun.


Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

Zones 4-8; 24 inches tall,12 inches wide; blooms early summer; variegated foliage adds sparkle to shady spots

The arching stems are a graceful addition to a shade border. Looks great poking up through hosta and ferns. Here I’ve combined it with Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica).


Zones 3-9; size varies with variety; the best foliage plant for shade

Hosta are such a versatile plant. I use them in containers on my screened porch.

Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)

Zones 5-9; 6 inches tall, 12 inches wide; blooms in autumn; interesting patterned leaves that persists through winter; C. persicum is the type sold by most florists and is not hardy

Subtle yet inspiring. I so enjoy seeing their pink blooms in autumn when the leaves begin to fall from the trees.

Chinese Ginger (Asarum splendens a.k.a. Hexastylis splendens)

Zones 5-9; 12 inches tall, 18 inches wide; blooms in spring; excellent ground cover

This is a great low growing plant for shade. So easy and beautiful – I love foliage plants and this is a good one.

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