Melinda's Beginners Guide: Perennials

Melinda Beginners Guide: Perennials

Low maintenance perennial gardens...

... You can't go wrong with these tips from garden expert and author, Melinda Myers.

You see beautiful perennial gardens on Pinterest, in magazines and around the neighborhood. They make it look easy, but facing a patch of bare soil can be overwhelming. Start with easy care long blooming perennials to create a low maintenance beautiful garden that is sure to please.

Start with fewer big impact perennials. A designer once recommended when designing a perennial garden you should cut the number of different perennials used in half and double the number of each. This results in great impact with less effort.

Use at least three of each perennial variety to maximize their impact and groupings of even more for large gardens. Small space gardeners may opt for one of each to allow for a bit more variety in their smaller space. Repeating color and texture from plant to plant is another way to create big impact in small gardens and unity in much larger spaces.

Creating attractive combinations with a few select perennials is another way to boost your garden’s beauty. A friend and excellent garden designer collects cut flowers from blooming perennials then places them all in one vase to see how they will look when planted together in the garden. I place perennials on my cart when shopping to test my combinations. Many of the perennials at Pasquesi are in bloom and the colorful tags help with this process. It’s much easier to add and subtract plants on the cart than once in the garden

Include some spring, summer and fall blooming perennials to extend your enjoyment throughout the season. You may create gardens that provide months of color or create separate spring, summer or fall gardens depending on how you spend your time in the landscape or view them from inside looking out.

Add some early spring interest with fall planted, spring flowering bulbs. Animal resistant daffodils and hyacinths add welcome color and tulips are a spring favorite. As the flowers fade and leaves decline, your emerging perennials help mask the fading plants.

As you start designing your gardens some guidelines may help provide a place to start. As you gain experience you will adapt these to add a personal touch to your gardens.

Most importantly, relax and have fun as you start creating your perennial gardens. Even experienced gardeners don’t always get it right the first time. It seems there is always a plant that needs to be moved and replaced by one that is better suited to the that space.


Here are a few low maintenance combinations to get you started:


Early Season

- Columbine (Aquilegia), Salvia, yarrow (Achillea)

- Threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata), catmint (Nepeta) & repeat blooming daylilies (Hemerocallis)


Summer to Fall –

- Red Bee balm (Monarda dydima),  purple coneflower (Echinacea), lavender hyssop   (Agastache)

- Russian sage (Perovskia), Gayfeather (Liatris), Purple coneflower (Echinacea)

- Goldbar or porcupine Miscanthus, Rudbeckia, purple leafed coral bells (Heuchera)

- Purple coneflower (Echinacea), Betony (Stachys), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus) or hardy fountain grass (Pennisetum)


Fall –

- Lavender hyssop (Agastache), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and 'Fireworks' Goldenrod (Solidago)

- Aster, willow Amsonia, Little bluestem (Schizachyrium) or Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis)



- Season long interest from foliage with various bloom times for added appeal

- Fringed bleeding heart (Dicentra), coral bells (Heuchera), Hosta

- Lungwort (Pulmonaria), ferns and variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum)

- Black cohosh (Actaea), Japanese Forest grass (Hakonechloa)

- Variegated Solomon seal (Polygonatum), coral bells (Heuchera), sedge (Carex)

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Beginner Gardeners' Guide with you!