26 Best Perennial Flowers and Plants That Come Back Every Year
Low-maintenance blooms to fill your garden this spring, summer and fall.
With spring right around the corner, it'll soon be time to prepare your gorgeous garden and flower beds for warmer weather. Clear dead growth, brush back leaves, pull weeds, sow seeds, mulch — with a to-do list this long, why not find a solution that saves time, money and energy year after year? Unlike short-lived annuals (plants that complete their life cycle in a single year), perennials live for several years and require very little maintenance after initial planting. To help you achieve long-lasting beauty, we've rounded up the best perennial flowers and plants that bloom for at least two seasons.
By filling your garden, flower beds and well-decorated backyard with these low-maintenance perennials, you're guaranteed fresh blooms, beautiful colors and sweet scents every year — which could mean three to five years or over a century of hardy perennial flowers. Whether you're looking for the best spring bulbs, summer blossoms or festive fall flowers, our list is complete with zone requirements, sunlight needs and optimal blooming times.
Start scrolling to find a selection of low-growing ground covers, garden pollinators, tall perennials and edible flowers (hint: some leaves are great for making tea and potpourris). Regardless of whether your outdoor space has full sun or shade, you're sure to find a plant that will thrive. Our favorite part? There are so many variations of top perennials to choose from, including foliage that's purple, pink, yellow, blue, white and red.
Monarda Didyma (Bee Balms)
This easy-to-grow plant has strong stems, large leaves and berry red flowers. Use them to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. It requires a lot of water, and the foliage can be cut back after flowering to encourage growth. Added bonus? When crushed, the flowers release a spicy fragrance that's perfect for tea.
Zones 4-9; prefers full or half sun; blooms early summer to early fall
Mother of Thyme
The Mother of Thyme is a low-growing ground cover plant that's full of color and fragrance. Also referred to as the Creeping Thyme Plant, this choice is perfect for use between stepping stones, surrounding a vegetable garden or as a flowering lawn substitute. Plus, the leaves are perfect for making potpourris and calming teas.
Zones 4- 8; prefers full sun; blooms late spring to early summer
Digitalis Dalmatian (Foxglove)
Defined by its tall stems and bell-shaped blooms, the Foxglove comes in a few color variations: white, pink, red, yellow and shades of purple. The short-lived perennials are ideal for pollinators, tolerate shade well and attract hummingbirds, all while resisting rabbits and deer. If you're lucky, you'll have blooms in the first year, but most likely in the second year.
Zones 4-9; prefers full sun to part shade; blooms early summer to mid-summer
Amsonia (Blue Star)
These low-maintenance plants are commonly referred to as Blue Star flowers — obviously due to their periwinkle blue, star-shaped flowers that bloom in clusters. Thriving in hot and humid climates, the Amsonia pairs well with larger leaved plants, like peonies and hostas (also among the best perennials flowers).
Zones 3-11; prefers full sun; blooms late spring to early summer
Aquilegia Clementine Red
Ideal for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, these large fuchsia red flowers will also sit beautifully in a vase when cut.
The spring blooms require very little care (they can even tolerate shade) — just fertilize them annually. What's more? If conditions are ideal, a re-bloom can occur in the fall.
Zones 3-9; prefers full sun to part shade; blooms mid-spring to early summer
Leucanthemum (Shasta Daisy)
If your neighborhood deer nibble on everything in sight, consider planting a patch of Shasta Daisies. Along with being deer and rabbit-resistant, these short-lived perennials grow in clumps, filling up any empty spots with bright bursts of white and yellow. Bonus: You can cut the flowers at the stem for an instant vase filler or centerpiece, and they'll regrow in no time.
Zones 5-8; prefers full sun; blooms late spring to fall
Bring a tropical look to your garden with this low-maintenance foliage, which comes in a variety of green shades with white or purple flowers during summer or fall. While many tout Hostas as shade-loving plants, that's not necessarily the case: the lighter the leaves, the more sun it needs to thrive. Otherwise, they're fairly tolerant and can live for decades if properly cared for.
Zones 3-9; prefers partial shade; blooms summer to fall
One of the most common perennials, peonies make elegant cut flowers. The beautiful blooms come back every year and have been known to live for at least 100 years (yes, that means they may outlive you). They have a sweet scent and large, beautiful flowers that are most commonly pink but can also be white, red, orange or yellow.
Zones 2-8; prefers full sun; blooms late spring to early summer
False Indigo (Baptisia)
One year after planting, lupine-like flowers will pop up, filling your garden with shades of blue, purple and green. They're basically disease- and pest-free, which means nothing can get in their way from growing year after year. Over the years (okay, decades), they'll grow up to four feet in height and fill out like a shrub.
Zones 5-9; prefers full sun/mostly sun; blooms late spring to early summer
Affectionally called the "perfect perennial," Daylilies survive through almost anything — fluctuating temperatures, irregular watering and so on. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can find the right option to suit your garden or landscaping. And while each stem grows several flowers, keep in mind the buds only bloom for one day.
Zones: 4-9; prefers full sun/partial shade; blooms early summer
Starting in early spring, low-growing phlox blooms as ground cover. Then during the summer months, the tall phlox — anywhere from three to five feet in height — pop up, creating a colorful backdrop for any low-growers. No matter the height, all of these star-shaped flowers emit a strong fragrance and require little TLC.
Zones 2 - 9; prefers full sun but tolerates shade; blooms spring to summer
Lupines are frequently spotted in the wild — ever heard of Texas Bluebonnets? — but you can also grow these spiky flowers in your garden at home. Throughout their short life, stems can grow up to five feet tall, complete with red, white, yellow, pink or purple blooms that resemble pea flowers.
Zones 4-7; prefers full or partial sun; blooms spring to summer
Butterfly Bush (Summer Lilacs)
Just like the name implies, the blossoms on these shrubs attract tons of butterflies throughout the summer and fall months. While the flowers come in white and dark purple, the lavender-pink blossoms are the most appealing to the winged beauties in your area. Even though they're low maintenance, the shrub requires annual pruning to keep it in tip-top shape for the coming year.
Zones 5-10; prefers full sun; blooms summer to fall
Hydrangeas have been popular for decades, and for good reason: The larger-than-life flower heads blend elegance and charm, adding touches of pink, lavender, blue and white to gardens. To ensure that they live a full life (50 years!), plant them in spring after the last spring frost or in fall before the first fall frost.
Zones 3-9; prefers partial sun; blooms summer to fall
This hardy and versatile perennial is as carefree as it gets: Yarrow is pest-resistant, quick to spread and a major pollinator. Since it grows quickly, use it as ground cover, or to fill open meadows or large spaces. Once the red, yellow, pink or white flowers bloom, cut them (a.k.a. deadhead) when their color starts to fade to encourage more flowers to grow.
Zones 3-9; prefers full sun; blooms summer
Pollinators love the star-shaped flower clusters — and gardeners do too! Depending on the size of your space, choose between low-growing sedum (a great ground cover option!) or upright sedum. Both varieties boast the same beautiful results: succulent-like leaves with tiny pink, red or yellow flowers.
Zones 3-10; prefers full sun (low-growing sedum tolerates partial shade); blooms summer to fall
Keep these low-growers in mind for edgings, borders and ground covers. There are tons of grasses to choose from: Opt for Carex Evergold to add a vibrant yellow hue, or Blue Fescue to complement the blues and purples in your garden.
Zones vary; most prefer partial shade; blooms spring to summer
Add some contrast to the grasses and greens in your garden with golden-yellow spikes. Some consider Goldenrod a weed — and that's because it grows quickly and can overtake your garden if not treated with care. But if you tame it from one season to the next or prefer the wildflower look, then it's a great choice.
Zones 2-8; prefers full to partial sun; blooms late summer to fall
The star-shaped flower heads may give off the same look as daisies, but they're an entirely different type of perennial. The plants, which can grow anywhere from eight inches to eight feet in height, really come to life in late summer, giving bees and butterflies an important late-season pollen supply.
Zones 3-8; prefers full sun; blooms late summer to fall
Believe it or not, these purple pom-pom flowers are actually a part of the onion family — the spherical shape is similar, no? Once planted, they can be untouched for years, especially since rodents, deer and pests tend to avoid them. Their skinny stems rise to 30 inches in height, making them stand out against ground covers and low-growing varieties.
Zones 3-9; prefers full sun; blooms summer to fall
Amanda Garrity is a lifestyle writer and editor with over seven years of experience, including five years on staff at Good Housekeeping, where she covered all things home and holiday, including the latest interior design trends, inspiring DIY ideas and gift guides for any (and every) occasion. She also has a soft spot for feel-good TV, so you can catch her writing about popular shows like Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias, Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart and more.
Alyssa Gautieri (she/her) is the associate lifestyle editor for Good Housekeeping, where she covers all things home and interior design. Prior to joining GH in 2022, she wrote for publications including ELLE Decor, Chairish, BobVila.com, Unique Homes Magazine and LODGING Magazine, in addition to crafting product copy for home brands like BrylaneHome and VIGO Industries.
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