Help Choosing Perennials

Perennial Flowers
Because they will grace your garden season after season, choosing perennials for your garden can have an enduring effect on the overall appearance. Native plants are a good choice as are plants that do well in your area. Check neighbor's gardens, the local nursery, or contact a master gardener. This is a page about help choosing perennials.

2 Questions

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May 8, 2008

I have a raised, bricked flower bed running a partial length of our house. It is 15' long and 1.5' wide and sits in partial to full shade. It faces the street, so I'd like to plant something eye-catching, that might provide continuous color. I'm okay with planting a few annuals to add to the look, but would really like some suggestions for perennials to anchor this area. Thanks so much for your help!

Hardiness Zone: 4b

KMHL from Sutton, NE


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 267 Posts
May 8, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

I would contact a master gardener in your area or maybe your local university's extension program. Native plants to your area are going to do better than stuff that originally grew somewhere else. Another thing you could do is to walk around your neighborhood, looking for ideas.


We just bought a bunch of perennials at a Native plant sale that was set up by our city's Parks and Rec department. We have high hopes that they will spread and be low maintenance.

One other idea I had from your description would be Bearded Iris. I have some in my front flowerbed and it just keeps coming up, year after year. I supplement with some pansies or other colorful annuals and it looks awesome!

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May 10, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

One word: HOSTA! Go to and look around and find some favorites. and then go to Jim's hosta or Naylor Creek nursery, or any of the other biggies who deal in hosta and you can have a ball designing your area and you will never have to plant again. There are huge hosta, showy hosta, different colored hosta, ruffled, you name and there's a hosta like it. They love shade and are hardy and practically care free. And they can really put on a show for your street side.


Susan in Omaha

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By CArol in PA (Guest Post)
May 16, 20080 found this helpful
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Hello, I live in the US, but your post caught my eye because the name of your town is my maiden name. lol Also, I have a very similar area in the front of my house. YOur situation is somewhat different than mine however, my shady housefront is in a rural wooded area. Somehow I feel your shaded front area is either city or suburban. For this reason, I wouldnt plant any woodland plants there ,but lean more heavily toward the rugged shade plants that you might find. YOu may even want to see what is native to your country. Also, the bricks you mentioned may create a little microclimate in your yard. Any brink, macadem, or concrete absorbs heat and creates an effect that is almost like a little oven. So look at this area and try to notice what you have. Does the street get lots of sun? These are the types of questions you might need to ask yourself.


If you want to plant annuals, I suggest pansies as they do well for me. Pansies appear to be quite hardy. They even grow in some snow. Also, there are begonias, coleus, and impatients.

I prefer to plant perennials. For your situation, I think ajuga is a good shorter plant. It gets a bad rap. But your area is contained and it will work for you. It have lovely leaves that are sorta evergreen and they turn burgundy in the fall.

In the spring it get lovely purple flowers. I also grow lamium. I have Beacon Silver which has silver colored leaves that seem to glow in the dark. They show up nicely in the shade. In the spring Beacon Silver gets pink flowers that are quite showy imho. Lamium imho isnt quite as tough as ajuga, but like I said it grows here. Lamium is another groundcover short plant.


You will need some medium tall plants for the middle area of your garden. I use lady's mantle for htat. The flowers are chartreuse and tiny. But the leaves are very showy. Water beads up on them. They look like a lady's stole or mantle. If they get ragged looking, you can cut them off and they grow back quickly. This is a reblooming perennial so it blooms all summer. Again, its tough.

Its almost impossible to get anything to bloom in full shade. There are different types of shade. So again, I think the most important thing you can do is observe the area you have to see what is happening there.

I hesitate to mention daylilies because I'm afraid its too dark there for them. But you might want to plant them on the partly shady area. I prefer the newer reblooming varieites. The one I'm thinking of is called Happy Returns and is yellow. imho yellow is a good color for shade as it stands out and looks sunny.


Frankly, I'd look for anything that has a silvery or yellowish leaf. I think foliage may be your friend. Check online to see what hostas might have that characteristic. Hostas can be tough enough for your situtaion. I think the ones with yellowish leaves need more sun than the green, white, or silver so plant accordingly.

I cant think right now of a tall plant that you might be able to use. Foxglove is bi annual. My mind envisions it in a woodland setting, however. But you can try it. YOu might be able to grow liatris which is spikey. I think your area is too dark for liatris though.

I'd plant the area full with no spaces between the plants. If you plan for it to all grow together, it will look lush and full. I think that in itself might make it showy as you want. I know how you feel because I have full shade created by an overhang in the front of my house. So mine is not only very dark and faces North, but its dry as well. lol... I am sure if you search for plants with variegated foliage you'll be quite surprised at what you can achieve. foliage might be your best friend.

warmest regards,

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May 8, 2008

I have a long narrow garden beside my house. It gets sun in the morning and mostly shade in the afternoon. I am looking for perennials to put in it. Any suggestions?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Peggy from Springboro, OH


Hostas really love the shade and come in many varieties. Bleeding hearts like semi shade and seem to do very well. (see photo attached)
If you live near a wooded area (as I do) the ferns are just coming up, and now is a good time to dig up ferns and transplant them in a shaded area. I have several varieties, some get up to 3 feet tall.
Most gardeners love to share there plants by giving "clippings" spring is the perfect time, ask a friend or neighbor if they mind sharing. Usually a clump of new growth the size of your palm/hand is big enough to get started. Have fun and good luck (04/14/2008)

By Annie


Help Choosing Perennials

One of my personal favorites is the Astilbe. Forget-me-nots, liriope, and lilies are others to consider. Have fun with your garden. (04/14/2008)

By Teresa

Help Choosing Perennials

Try for whole garden ideas. They have everything planned and you can get some really good ideas. (04/14/2008)

By Judi

Help Choosing Perennials

I've had great success with bleeding hearts and lilies of the valley in those conditions. The lilies took several years to get established but then they spread and produced thousands -- and they smell divine! (04/15/2008)

By joan pecsek

Help Choosing Perennials

Bleeding Heart, Lily of the Valley, Hostas, Begonia, Impatients, Peony, Pansies, Lambs Ear, Columbine, Bugbane, Cyclamine, Day lilies, Foxglove, Jacob's Ladder, Bee Balm,
Stargazer Lilies. (05/02/2008)

By Sherry

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