By: Heather Rhoades
You have a beautiful sunflower in your yard, except you didn’t plant it there (probably a gift from a passing bird) but it looks nice and you want to keep it. You may be asking yourself, “Is my sunflower an annual or a perennial?” Read on to learn more.
Sunflowers are either an annual (where they need to be replanted every year) or a perennial (where they will come back every year from the same plant) and telling the difference is not that hard if you know how.
Some differences between annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) and perennial sunflowers (Helianthus multiflorus) include:
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After seeding and tending wildflower meadows for over 20 years, we've learned a lot. Most of our work has been done in Vermont, which means we had to deal with Zone 4 weather, but by working with wildgardeners from all over North America, we also learned which plants do best in various areas.
Below are my recommendations, based on actual growing almost anywhere. You can try almost any perennial in your meadow, of course. But these are all plants I promise you will be major colormakers, and return for you year after year. They're all either unhybridized wildflowers or close hybrids, and that's what you want for a natural wildflower garden. (Of course, check the zone hardiness before you buy your plants.)
Helianthus "Lemon Queen" is a large, fast-growing perennial sunflower that reaches heights of 6 to 8 feet and widths of 3 to 4 feet. The plant produces masses of 2-inch, pale lemon-yellow, semi-double blooms with dark brown centers. Blooms appear in midsummer and last six to eight weeks. Helianthus "Lemon Queen" is perennial in USDA zones 4 through 9.
Helanthus x multiflorus includes a number of attractive perennial sunflower varieties, each displaying masses of colorful, early- to late-summer flowers on fuzzy stems measuring as tall as 4 to 5 feet. Varieties include the intense gold, double-flowered "Lodden Gold" "Capenoch Star," with bright yellow, single flowers and "Soleil d’Or," with vivid yellow, semi-double blooms. Multiflorus sunflowers are drought-tolerant plants suitable for growing in USDA zones zones 4 through 10.
Perfectly Planned Perennial Garden With Annuals Tucked In Between.
The following list of perennial flowers will help you choose just which permanent plants you want to invite into your garden to stay. When planning your perennial garden, keep in mind the fact that some of these plants could be around for many years to come. These are the plants which will live from three to thirty years or more, depending on how happy they are.
So even though you don't need a pencil and paper to map out your garden, it's a good idea to give it some thought before you go out and buy what could be a quite expensive plant. You need to know how to care for it so that your investment is not wasted - and where to put it.
If you are just starting out and have a large, bare plot to cover, it can be quite overwhelming, but imagine a garden without any perennials . It's worth it. Of course the main things to plant first are the Trees (if you want some), then the tall Woody Perennials such as Roses, Rhododendrons and Hydrangeas, and then the smaller Herbaceous Perennials. Herbaceous Perennials are the ones that are easiest to deal with and move around if you get them wrong eg. Chrysanthemums. The Herbaceous Perennials are the ones which die back each year to ground level, and then bloom again in the spring. The best examples of these would have to be the Bulbs.
After you know what is going where, it's time to think of the Annuals which can be tucked in between the Perennials. When planning your garden, keep in mind the fact that Herbaceous Perennials fit well with evergreen shrubs and small trees and bushes. See more information on this site: Perennial Flowers.
The following List of Perennial Flowers contains flowers which are common and easy to grow. In some cold areas they are only grown as Annuals. The information will be on the tag. I hope the images at the top of each page will give you some ideas about your perennial flower garden design. Check back here often as I add what I find because this list is by no means complete!
Perennial Flowers Starting With A.
Achillea millefolium. (Yarrow family).
African Daisy. (Osteospermum)
Allium bisceptrum. (Twincrest Onion).
Alstromeria. (Peruvian Day Lily).
Amaranthus. ( Prince's Feather).
Anchusa. (Dropmore Flower, Italian Bugloss).
Astilbe Flower. (False Spirea).
Aurinia saxatillis. (Basket of Gold, Alyssum saxatilllis).
Gallery featuring 47 gorgeous perennial garden ideas for your home, showcasing the wide range of flowers of this type.
Welcome to our gallery of alluring perennial gardens!
It’s nice when your hard work in the garden pays off. It’s even better when those rewards come back time and time again. When planting perennials you can see your efforts pay dividends each year as the flowers perk back up in the spring, returning with blooms of color.
Any garden you invest in will increase the beauty, curb appeal, and value of your property.
With a perennial garden (for both perennials for shade and perennials for sun) most of the work will be devoted to the initial landscaping and planting of the flowers. From then on, with proper maintenance, you will have a fabulous garden that returns year after year.
The alternative to perennials are annuals. Annuals are flowers that die out each year and need to be replanted.
What are the pros and cons of having a perennial gardens?
When installing a garden, size is the most important factor when it comes to cost. If your garden is going to be smaller than 500 square feet you can expect to spend around $480 or less, depending on how small your garden is. Gardens between 500 and 1,000 square feet cost around $600, while those around 1,000 to 2,000 square feet run upward of $830. Price continues to increase with size. Extra features such as irrigation will increase your costs as well. (Source: Red Beacon)
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Here are some lovely and lush perennial gardens. These gardens are filled with sunflowers, red and pink delphinium, and yellow daisies all of which are amazing perennials that can bring a freshness to your garden.
Here is a vast landscape with a number of perennials. In a space this large it is wise to plant flowers you won’t have to replant every year. This is a fair amount of space to cover by means of replanting.
The lily of the valley is a wonderful perennial that can add zest to any garden. This reliable plant adds a fuller garden profile as dots of color build up depth. Lily of the valley is a great addition to any garden. Learn more here.
Tulips and daffodils are amazing flowers that personify the rebirth of spring. These colorful flowers lend a unique freshness while creating a bright and happy palette. How can anyone not love these amazing flowers?
Some of the most famous and widespread perennials are roses. There are many gardens dedicated to roses alone. There are so many types of roses that you can specialize in this flower and always have more to learn with new exciting growing opportunities. Source: Zillow Digs™
These lovely tulips sit next to some purple and pink hyacinth. The hyacinth have a long line of small colorful flowers on the top creating a bed of color along the top of your garden.
The black-eyed susan is a great perennial that adds amazing dramatic contrast among your flowers. The bright yellows and deep blacks of these flowers stand out in a crowd. Learn more here.
Here is a lovely perennial garden with many different layers. This garden mixes tulips, primroses, and creeping phlox to build a deep and appealing composition. Many perennials work together. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds.
Perennial bushes are amazing at filling out garden space year after year. Here are some blue delphinium and a weigela bush. If you allow these plants free rein they will spread, making your garden full and lush with color. Source: Zillow Digs™
When selecting the right combination of perennials a garden can possess variety of texture but still match in color. All of the flowers in this garden are similar and complementary shades of purple. Year after year this amazing purple garden will return.
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Your colors don’t need to match to make a beautiful and appealing garden, however. In this garden, the colors are all over the spectrum. This gives the garden a wild and gorgeous natural feel.
You can create depth in your garden with only two types of flowers. This garden uses tulips with a bright red and yellow draw alongside a number of violets to punctuate the tulips and provide depth.
Succulents and vines are perennials that can be used to great effect. These kinds of plants give a variety of textural options to add to your garden. Source: Zillow Digs™
With great care, your perennials will continue to add brightness to your garden year after year. These flowers come in so many different shapes, sizes, and colors that your options are nearly limitless. Learn more here.
Tulips are a classic choice that looks professional and can be arranged in patterns. They come in so many different colors that just by using tulips alone you can have a complicated and widespread color palette.
In areas where it can be difficult to plant each year, the easiest option is perennials. On hillsides or in rocky and hard to reach areas it may be the best option to place flowers that won’t have to be replanted. Source: Zillow Digs™
Perennial gardens can take on nearly any shape. A large bed of flowers is a traditional look for a perennial garden. Here the daylilies and snow in summer flowers are laid out in wide beds, making a blanket of color across this yard.
Since some perennials are much taller than others you can layer varying sized flowers to arrange a wild look. Letting the flowers consume your yard is an interesting way to get out of mowing, as well as a way to turn your yard into a magical garden.
Here, perennials are used around a water feature to give it a more natural look. The plants around this waterfall make it appear as though it may have been found in the wild among the underbrush lined with wildflowers. Source: Zillow Digs™
This pool and water feature has a number of perennial bushes to bring a touch of vibrancy to the manmade fixtures.
The sweet astilbe is an interesting perennial with a fantastic color profile and texture. Adding this flower to your garden can liven up your space and add some character. Learn more here.
Due to the vast variety of perennials, there are nearly endless combinations and very few bad options. If flowers do not match precisely they may still provide a wild and untamed aesthetic that can be very appealing.
Here are some perennial bushes that are perfect for a Japanese style garden or minimalist space. They provide a base color without being overly flashy while lending a sense of balance to the space. Source: Zillow Digs™
Pictured here is the patriot hosta. This perennial is a fabulous plant that can help fill out your garden and add a touch of extra flair. Learn more here
These gardens contain lush and full perennial bushes. Perennial bushes are great options for filling garden space with dynamic and interesting flowers.
In this picture, purple coneflowers and white summer phlox grow amongst a deep green backdrop. The contrast of these vibrant colors against the thick greenery draws the eye to the garden. Source: Zillow Digs™
The distinct and vibrant colors of tulips bring a sense of drama to a garden, while daisies and phlox lend a softer and lighter feel. The light yellows and pinks of these flowers are warm and welcoming.
In this garden the perennial flowers have been allowed to grow out into the adjacent space. This garden has a very organic and relaxed feel that is both visually interesting and welcoming.
Your garden does not need to be vast to have a large impact. A small plot of tulips can make a big statement with contrasting colors. Source: Zillow Digs™
Even having one type of perennial bush around a feature can help bring that feature out. These flowers help highlight the landscaping choices by directing the eye through the space.
The sedum flower is an interesting perennial that is dramatic in color as well as in texture and shape. This type of flower can add many interesting elements to your garden. Learn more here
If you have a stone walkway or steps you may consider letting some of your perennial bushes and flowers grow wild alongside these areas. It helps increase the rustic and naturalistic appeal of the area.
If you’d prefer an overgrown secret garden appeal, perennials are your friend. They are opportunistic, gladly taking the space given to them and will continue to grow. Let them grow and they will surround your space with lush greens and slashes of color. Source: Zillow Digs™
Many tulip gardens consist of tulips of the same color, but planting a few tulips of many different colors is an equally valid method. This way you can have a wide variety of color to enjoy.
Succulents are great for spaces where you want interesting textures. When you want to pair intriguing textures with colored stones and thoughtful design, succulents are the best answer. Source: Zillow Digs™
Daisies are popular flowers. These flowers are bright and happy and often used to symbolize spring, happiness, and joy. Learn more here.
There are a number of perennials that pair well with ponds and other water features. Lavenders and water lilies are wonderful for pond side gardens. Source: Zillow Digs™
Roses and other perennials grow well alongside buildings. These kinds of flowers can grow up along the sides of walls and climb if given the correct structures. This can give you a flower wall if you desire.
Hydrangeas are perfect flower bushes for along paths and walkways. These bushes can be used to mark off spaces all while providing lovely colors. Learn more here
Lining patios and walkways with perennial bushes is a perfect way to keep foot traffic on track as well as to bring some extra curb appeal. Source: Zillow Digs™
Many perennials have leaves that are differing shades and shapes. This is useful, as once the blooming season has ended you can still have a contrasting and visually interesting garden.
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Here is another example of a variety of different perennials all matching in color. There are a lot of white perennials available to choose from. This look is easy to achieve with a wide variety of flowers. Source: Zillow Digs™
Russian sage has a wild and untamed look that is great for large areas or the sides of paths and walkways. Learn more here.
Here is another group of perennials that are ideal next to a pond or water feature. The purple liatris has a nice marshy look and the yellow daylilies tie the wetlands aesthetic into the rest of the garden. Source: Zillow Digs™
The combination of purple salvia and pink phlox creates a wildflower-like field that is amazing in large patches. This can cover a wide space and make your yard feel like an expansive field.
Fill your yard with sun-loving plants that return year after year.
As spring has arrived, it's time once again to whip those gardens into shape. Before you hit the online nurseries, it's worth putting pencil to paper and drawing up a plan for things you would like to plant—don't forget to include ideas for ground cover plants! You should also consider the pros and cons of annuals vs. perennials. We vote that you check out the best perennial flowers and plants when drawing up your garden. Why? By definition, perennial plants last more than two years. That means that, in the long run, they're going to save you money. But they're not just practical—many perennials are easy to care for produce amazing blooms attract bees, butterflies, and birds and offer a variety of colors, textures, and heights to your garden.
So what do you need to know before you make your final selects? First, you need to figure out what kind of soil you have, how it drains, as well as the PH levels of your soil, all of which can vary by region. You can send a sample of your soil—along with a few dollars–to your local Cooperative Extension, and they will tell you everything you need to know and everything you need to do to improve it. You should check where your location falls on the USDA's Hardiness scale, and then study how much sun your garden gets, in order to choose the right varieties for the site. "Full-sun perennials" need about 6 to 8 hours of direct light daily in order to thrive. If your garden is on the shady side, check out these best shade perennials. Plant tags will tell you everything you need to know about how much sun, what kind of soil, and ideal zones that variety needs. Don't have a a lot of land? No worries. Many of these will work just as well for container gardens. Here, some of the best sun-loving perennials.
Sow perennial sunflower seeds either in the fall or in the spring after the last frost. (Get seeds here.)
If sowing in the spring, the seeds must first be cold stratified, which means they need a period of cold to germinate.
To cold stratify the seeds indoors, start about 8-10 weeks before your spring frost date. Put seeds in a ziplock bag with moistened seedstarting medium, and store in the refrigerator for 30 days. Check the seeds weekly, and if they begin to germinate, it’s time to plant them.
Sow the stratified seeds indoors under lights. For details on seed starting, see my step-by-step guide. Plant them outside after the danger of frost has passed.