Blooming Perennials Throughout the Year
by Christine Flagler
UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County
This article originally appeared in the October 11, 2023 Mountain Democrat
A perennial plant is a gift you can give yourself that keeps giving back to you. Perennials are enduring and it’s fun to anticipate their return year after year. Fall is the best time to plant perennials. There are perennials that will bloom all year long, although most bloom seasonally.
In January, cyclamen and pansies are still blooming from December. You may see both cyclamen and pansies now at your local nursery; planting them now, you’ll get the full benefit of their growing season. February brings blooms on the Lenten Rose, Hellebores spp. This flower comes in a wide variety of colors from deep burgundy, pale pink, white, to green. In late February into early March, Evergreen Clematis, Clematis armandii, starts to bud out in lovely pale pink and white profusion, like an apple blossom. This is so welcome in the dead of winter. Blooms must be protected if there’s a hard frost at this time. Primroses, another perennial available in a wide range of colors, are also blooming at this same time.
February wouldn’t be February without the darling purple and white violets popping up, reminding us of love. Do be careful where you place them though as they can be aggressive spreaders. Sweet smelling Daphne will also start blooming in early spring. If you purchase an ever-blooming Daphne, it will continue to bloom throughout the summer. However, all parts of Daphnes are poisonous, especially the berries.
As spring continues to warm up, Forsythia’s bright yellow flowers can be next in the succession of perennial garden blooms. Its sunny appearance can brighten the gloomiest gray day. Spanish Lavender, Lavandula stoechas, and Beardtongue, Penstemon spp,. are early spring bloomers that attract bees to the garden, and we definitely want to encourage bees!
In April and May, trees like Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, and Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, bloom in pinky purple and white. Summer Peonies, Paeonia spp., usher in the lovely month of June with yet another color palette choice from palest pink to deepest red.
Gloriosa Daisy, Rudbeckia hirta, is the star of the July garden. Geraniums, Pelargonium spp., also love the heat and are prolific in June and July. A Hardy Begonia I received as a gift in June has bloomed continuously in a shady area of my garden since then and is still blooming in September! Begonias need to be protected from frost in winter.
Another summer showoff is Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus. It is a tropical looking flower that can withstand summer heat. Through September, October, and even into November, Asters, Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans, Russian sage, Salvia yangii, and even Hummingbird Mint, Agastache, continue to bloom.
Prior to buying any plants, be sure that you know your hardiness zone. Plant tags normally list a range of zones in which plants will thrive. To check your hardiness zone, go to the United States Department of Agriculture at: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov Hopefully this short list has intrigued you, and you can start a perennial garden that will give enjoyment for years to come.
You can find our class schedule at: http://mgeldorado.ucanr.edu/Public_Education_Classes/?calendar=yes&g=56698, and recorded classes on many gardening topics here: http://mgeldorado.ucanr.edu/Public_Education/Classes/
We offer tours on the first Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. Volunteers are on-hand to answer questions, or you can just enjoy the garden. Please check our website for further information about the Sherwood Demonstration Garden at: https://ucanr.edu/sites/EDC_Master_Gardeners/Demonstration_Garden/
Have a gardening question? Master Gardeners are working hard to answer your questions. Use the “Ask a Master Gardener” option on our website: mgeldorado.ucanr.edu or leave a message on our office telephone: 530-621-5512. We’ll get back to you! Master Gardeners are also on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
For more information on the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County, see our website at http://mgeldorado.ucanr.edu. To sign up for notices and newsletters, see http://ucanr.edu/master gardener e-news.