Plant Category: Perennial

Perennial flowers provide anchors for flower beds and plant borders. The options for perennials is vast. Key considerations in selecting suitable perennials are the plant blooms, eventual plant size and ease of maintenance. Perennial selections here generally need regular watering while they are getting established.


Genus: Agapanthus

Spikes of flowers in mid-spring offer dramatic forms that resemble fireworks. The foliage retains a glossy appearance with little upkeep and water throughout the season. In some areas, blue agapanthus are so heavily used along highways that home gardeners eschew them as too common. In these cases, dwarf plants and those with white, dark purple or pink flowers bring an unexpected look. Agapanthus do well in partial shade to full sun in all but the hottest summer gardens.

Bi-Color Lily

Genus: Moraea Bi-Color

This perennial shrub is also referred to as an “African Lily”. The plant features grassy sword-like evergreen foliage and attractive flowers with distinct spots. They are vigorous plants but do take some time to become established for flowering. Care needs to be taken in site selection as the plants are very unattractive if invaded by trailing ground covers and they are difficult to weed.


Genus: Cosmos

These perennials are are often grown as annuals. Their white, yellow-orange, pink and fuchsia blooms have simple symmetrical daisy-like blooms that bring color to late summer gardens and fall gardens. White cosmos flowers are a bright and clear in color. The plants have airy fern like foliage. The plants can take the heat and do well in full sun. While the plants can manage with little water, blooming and overall appearance is best when with regular watering. Cosmos can reach 5′ in height. Mature plants benefit from support.

Fortnight Lily

Genus: Dietes Vegeta

This hardy flowering perennial shrub produces beautiful flowers and sword-like foliage. Volunteer sprouts will appear from dropped seeds that can be pulled or developed over three years to maturity. Care needs to be taken to position fortnight lilys where they will not be invaded by grassy or trailing plants as their compact form makes weeding difficult. Over time the plants can develop an overgrown appearance and in cutting them back it is nearly impossible to avoid a hacked look.


Genus: Gaura

Sometimes referred to as beeblossoms, these perennial shrubs are known for their airy stems of pink or white summer flowers that last well into the fall. Trimming dead flowers encourages additional blooms. The blooms do well as cut flowers. Guara typically grow several feet across. This makes it important to position the plant with it’s full size in mind. Some more compact varieties are available. The plants do well in full sun but they can take some shade.

Kangaroo Paw

Genus: Anigozanthos

These plants with sword-like foliage feature blooms that emerge from tall branching stems. The flowers are covered with fine hairs that given them a velvety look. The color of the stems can vary from green to red. Flower colors include cream, yellow, orange and red. The plants are striking additions to rock gardens and landscapes with a distilled, modern look. Kangaroo paws are originally from Australia. The plants do well in arid gardens once established. The blooms do well in cut arrangements.


Genus: Lantana

The trailing growth habit makes this flowering shrub appropriate for use as a ground cover while some variations are more upright. The fragrant blooms attract butterflies. Lantana blooms repeatedly with more abundant blooms when planted in full sun. Consideration should be given to lantana placement in the gardenscape as it can become invasive.


Genus: Lavende

This fragrant shrub is found with many variations. Variations can be selected for the color of flowers, foliage and growing habit including some with more compact forms. Lavender flowers grow on spikes which attract bees. The flowers are often used in dried arrangements and the buds can be incorporated into sachets. Some gardeners prefer to replace lavender plants every few years as than can become rangy.

Matillija Poppy

Genus: Romneya

The very large plants produce stunning flowers but they do not work well for gardens with space constraints. Matillijas produce the largest flowers of any poppy. Blossoms be six inches in width or even larger. Blooms appear in early summer and have a crepe paper appearance. It can take some effort to establish matillija poppies. Once the plants take hold they can extend via underground roots. This characteristic can make matillija poppies a good choice for hillside erosion control.

Mediterranean Spurge

Genus: Euphrobia Characias

These evergreen flowering perennial shrubs are compact, growing to a height of about three feet. Most varieties feature blue green vegetation with dense chartreuse flower clusters appearing in early spring and continuing through mid-summer. Some varieties can be found with purple leaves and flowers. Once established, Mediterranean Spurges can get by with very little supplementary water. The plants can take full sun or partial shade and do best in well draining soil conditions.