Timing a Perennial Garden to Maximize Color

Perennials are a great landscape investment that will serve you well year after year. If they like their location – right amount of sunshine, water and good soil – they will flourish and add color to your garden. But while some perennials bloom once and are done for the year, and others re-bloom, how do you keep your garden looking alive and colorful all summer long? Easy! Mix and match early and late bloomers.

Depending in which Hardiness Zone you reside (Laconia is considered Zone 5b; but a mere 5-10 miles over in any direction can put you in a different Zone), perennials tend to bloom at specific times of the year. So what you need to do is choose plants that bloom in the early spring, late spring/early summer, summer and late summer/early fall. By spreading out plants with bloom times that vary, you’ll almost guarantee yourself gardens that will boast blooms and color, enhancing your landscape, at least six months of the year.

Early Bloomers

The bulbs you plant in the fall will come back each spring and be the first color to welcome spring. Daffodils, tulips, Siberian Squill, hyacinth…so long as the chipmunks and voles don’t discover the bulbs… these bulbs should bloom each year. Primrose, bleeding heart, ground phlox and lungwort are perennials that will be first to bloom, in late April through early May. Helleborus are often evergreen and their interesting flowers will be among the first to open. Many of these early blooming perennials are also shade tolerant.

Next up are viola, coral bells, Lady’s Mantle, columbine, Cranesbill geranium, coral bells and peonies. These will begin to show up late spring into June. Here, too, a mixture of shade and sun-loving plants give you the ability to spread colorful blooms throughout your garden. Many gardeners will add annuals to their perennial gardens in order to fill in color and provide continuous blooms, once there is no danger of frost. The multitude of colors available in annuals give gardeners the ability to “fine tune” their gardens by weaving in color that will continuously bloom throughout the bloom time of your perennials.

Late Bloomers

Later in the warm months, July and August, astilbe and bee balm, coneflower and iris, bellflower, daisy, Russian sage, yarrow, daylilies, coreopsis and Oriental lilies will flourish. If the summer is a dry one, they will need watering in order for them to continue flowering. Finally, as summer draws to an end, but garden colors linger, sedum, asters, Japanese anemone and chrysanthemums appear.

Remember to always read the tags on plants to learn the timing of their growing season. It is a challenge to keep the color coming in the gardens around your home, but with careful planning, good care and some luck from Mother Nature, your garden can bloom continuously, keeping you surrounded in color, texture and interest.