First things first, I know I haven’t written in a LONG time. Jeez, I’m not sure what happened. I have been going crazy this past week; my car is broken, my computer is NOT working (I am on my roomie’s now) and I was sick. Man, I’ve had a great week.
Anyways, all that negative stuff aside, I have a GREAT post today! This list is for all of you in my neck of the woods (northern MN), or somewhere between zones 2 to 5. Here is a list of 10 of my favorite perennials for cold climates. These plants are all fairly low-maintenance and tend to be hardy enough to withstand our severe winters. All of these have worked very well in my own (or my mom’s) Minnesota garden!
1. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra Spectabilis) – Zones 2-9, part shade. My mom has had one of these for about 15-20 years. After about 5-10 years she dug it up because we moved, and it transplanted very easily. Now it is about 3 feet tall, and about 5-6 feet in diameter. It blooms through the summer, and is really low maintenance. I just love the small heart shaped blooms, they are so different from anything else you usually see in a garden. I have also seen these come in white, if you’d prefer that.
2. Lupines (Lupinus Perennis) – Zones 3-6, full to part sun. These lovely plants spread a little more every year. Purple seems to be dominant here, and if you just let them go, most will be this color. If you’d like to see a nice balance between the purple, pink, and white blooms, you can always go around in late fall, and spread all of the pink and white seeds manually to make sure they will return in the spring!
3. Peonies (Paeonia) – Zones 3-8, full sun. I remember that my mother used to have these when I was growing up, and I loved the large blooms on them. I wondered if the ants I saw on buds were eating the flowers, but my mom told me that they were just eating the sweet layer over the bud of the plant. She was right; the flowers always bloomed and the ants went away. One thing that you should be careful of if you are just planting a new Peony is not to plant it too deep. If your Peony came in a pot, you should mark off (maybe use a twist tie) where the dirt comes to, and do not plant it any deeper than it was in the pot. If it is planted too deep, it will not bloom.
4. Creeping Phlox (P. Stolonifera) – Zones 2-9, full to part sun. Creeping Phlox is awesome for borders, or rock gardens. We have ours growing in between rocks on our rock wall. The purple blooms make the wall look so elegant, and really soften up the rest of the garden area.
5. Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum) – Zones 3-9, full sun. There are so many great things about Chives; where do I start? Well, first of all they give you really pretty purple flowers. They also help to keep the deer out of your garden. Oh, and did I mention they are great in salad? I am pretty sure they are one of the all around best perennials for Northern Gardens.
6. Hen and Chicks (Jovibarba Globifera) – Zones 3-11, full sun. Hen and Chicks are really a great filler plant. If you have any small spaces that just look bare, or have poor soil, just put a few of them in the dirt. They don’t mind poor soil conditions, and if you look closely at my picture, you will see that they are growing in a mossy ground cover. I have no idea why they are thriving there, but this moss is covering a huge rock slab in our yard, so I don’t think there is much dirt there at all. Anyways, theses will spread like crazy; the Hens will produce small Chicks that will root wherever they end up. We have ours on a hill, so a lot of the Chicks roll down the hill a bit before rooting.
7. Irises (I. Siberica) – Zones 3-9, full sun to part shade. These are just wonderful flowers that will add some great color to any flower bed. They have no problem coming back every year, and look great in part shade (the colors are much more vibrant).
8. Gaillardia (Gaillardia Aristata) – Zones 3-9, full sun. Gaillardia is awesome, and that’s all there is to say. They seem to attract bees and butterflies, not to mention pesky amateur photographers (that would be me).
9. Hostas – Zones 3-8, full to part shade. Hostas are probably the most popular perennial plant for gardening in the shade. There are so many different varieties to choose from, which is why they are a favorite of many. My mom loves them, and they faithfully come back every spring in our gardens. Most often, they will just look like the foliage you see above, but they do flower occassionally.
10. Stella de Oro Daylily – Zones 2-9, full sun. These daylilies came highly recommended by my mom, who got some of them a few summers ago. The great thing about them is that they bloom continuously! Most daylilies only bloom once throughout the summer, and although it is usually a magnificent showing, why not get some of these so you can have that beauty all summer long?
There you have it, my friends. Jocelyn’s Top 10 List of Hardy Perennials for Northern Gardens. I want to say thanks to my wonderful mother for helping me out with a couple questions about her perennials for this posting! Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to her and all of you other lovely mothers out there!