Many of your favorite perennial flowers are being bred to extend their bloom times. These new varieties bloom for 2 months or more instead of the typical 3-4 week perennial bloom period. To encourage peak bloom of all perennial flowers, fertilize them in early spring, mid-summer and early fall with an organic-rich granular fertilizer.
Look for these five new perennials that will give you a much longer flowering period than perennials of the past.
Betony “Summer Crush”
A relative of lamb’s ears, betony is a little-known perennial that not only blooms for a long time, but is hardly ever bothered by bug, disease or animal pests – including deer. Bicolor, pink-and-white, 18 inch flower spikes poke up from the leaf clusters throughout June and July. “Summer Crush” grows best in full sun to light shade.
Lavender “Big Time Blue®”
Lavender is one of the longest-blooming perennials in general, but this newcomer has some of the biggest and most flowers of any variety yet. Big Time Blue® has fragrant, long-lasting, bee-attracting, purplish-blue flowers and a compact shape of about 20 inches tall. It grows best in full sun and well drained soil.
Catmint “Cat’s Pajamas”
Catmints are naturally long-bloomers, but this compact, 14-inch-tall, new version can flower non-stop from late spring through mid-summer, then bloom again in fall if you cut it back after the first round of flowering. “Cat’s Pajamas” has indigo-blue flowers, silvery-green foliage, and is very heat and drought tolerant. Pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to it. It grows best in full sun.
Stokes’ Aster “Blue Frills”
This perennial has daisy-like flowers similar to an aster, but it blooms in mid-summer rather than late summer to fall. “Blue Frills” is a new variety that produces bluish-purple flowers for two months in July and August. It grows 18 inches tall and does best in full sun to light shade.
Rudbeckia “American Gold Rush”
Black-eyed Susan is an old favorite in the perennial garden. For years, the main variety available to gardeners has been “Goldsturm,” a heavy-bloomer that’s prone to a fungal disease that blackens the leaves in summer. “American Gold Rush” is an improved introduction that not only overcomes the disease threat but blooms heavily from July to September. Flowers are bright gold, and plants grow nearly 2 feet tall, ideally in full sun or light shade.