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This attractive, easy-care, 6- to 8-inch semi-evergreen groundcover boasts leaves that emerge bright green, then darken with age, creating a two-toned effect. In mid- to late spring, distinctive white blooms dangle on wiry stems, resembling an umbrella blown inside-out by a sudden gust of wind. The flower's stamens jut forward like a beak.
This dwarf mullein is just 15 inches tall but it packs a big floral punch. In early spring, violet-purple flowers with dark purple anthers emerge unfazed by late frosts and continue into the summer.
This biennial or short-lived perennial has evergreen woolly leaves like silvery flannel that make sensuous-looking rosettes in the first year. In mid- to late summer of its second year, large sulfur-yellow blossoms open from the bottom up on flower stalks that reach up to 6 feet high. Blooming continues for many weeks. Verbascum bombyciferum has naturalized in regions of the U.S.
This is one of the few truly perennial species of mullein. Pale yellow blossoms with purple filaments bloom profusely on long flower stalks in mid- and late summer, reaching about 3 feet high. Individual flowers are short-lived but numerous, and flowering takes place over a long time. Verbascum chaixii's glossy, dark green rosettes are semi-evergreen.
This biennial or short-lived, semi-evergreen perennial forms rosettes of leaves densely covered with grayish-yellow hairs. In summer, its bright-yellow or occasionally white blossoms flower along erect, branching stalks up to 5 feet high. It has naturalized in regions of the U.S.
This biennial or short-lived perennial species is one of the earliest mulleins to bloom. Its showy blossoms of dark-purple, violet, pink, or white open along slender 3-foot spires for about two weeks in early summer. Its shiny dark green leaves are ground-hugging and evergreen. It has naturalized in some regions of the U.S.
This fine Veronica was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993. From early summer to frost this upright cultivar forms branched spikes (to 7 inches long) of dark violet-blue flowers. It has glossy and crinkled dark green leaves, and grows to less than 2 feet tall. It is a fine choice for adding long-season color to a mixed border.
This dense, mat-forming species has 3-inch-tall evergreen foliage with toothed gray leaves. Its saucer-shaped flowers are deep blue with white eyes, and they bloom from early spring to summer. It is drought tolerant and makes a good groundcover. In garden sites, it needs protection from winter moisture.
'Georgia Blue' forms beautiful mats of purple-tinged leaves. In spring, this free-flowering groundcover boasts abundant iridescent blue flowers. It grows to about 9 inches high and a foot wide. It is a vigorous and easy-to-grow cultivar.
This tough, versatile plant requires little maintenance. 'Georgia Blue' is willing to grow in sunny or shady spots, puts up with excessive rain or drought conditions, and attracts butterflies with a low blanket of sky blue flowers from spring into summer. Small, dark green leaves turn glossy burgundy in winter. Use it in containers or rock walls, or as a companion groundcover to spring bulbs under trees.
This species has multiple 5- to 7-foot-tall, tapering spikes of pinkish-lavender flowers from summer to fall. They look like elegant, living candelabras and add a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden.
This species has multiple tapering, soft spikes of white to pale pink or bluish purple flowers that look like elegant, living candelabras. The blooms reach 4 feet or more, adding a vertical accent to the back of a mixed border or wild garden from mid-summer to early autumn. Plants spread to about 3 feet.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Creeping myrtle is a fast-spreading, 4- to 8-inch-tall, evergreen groundcover with shiny green leaves borne in pairs on long, arching stems. Star-like, 1-inch-wide blue flowers bloom for one month in spring. Cultivars include 'Bowles,' which blooms sporadically throughout the growing season, and variegated vinca, with creamy white-and-green leaves.
A hardworking, compact perennial, ‘Etain’ violet forms well-behaved clumps and blooms from time to time from spring through fall. The attractive, fleshy, bright green foliage needs protection from slugs. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
This annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial is grown for its long season of pansy flowers in shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white. Viola tricolor is pretty in containers, as edging, or as a companion for bulbs. It self-seeds readily.
Chaste tree is a southern favorite beginning to gain favor across the country. Whether left to grow as a large, multistemmed shrub or cut back annually for a more compact look, this selection is a winner. Fine, lacy leaves are glossy and green. Bright blue flower panicles begin to form in early summer and continue through the heat of the season and into fall. This is a reasonably cold-hardy, deer-resistant woody plant, and while V. agnus-castus is typically considered a Zone 7 plant, the variety latifolia can be grown in Zone 6 and even in southern areas of Zone 5.
Anyone who gardens in the shade is familiar with heucherella. ‘Sweet Tea’ was bred using Heuchera villosa, a native of the eastern United States, as one of its parents, which has added enough resistance to heat, drought, and humidity to make it able to handle even the extreme climate of Texas. ‘Sweet Tea’ has large, stained, orange-bronze leaves with dark burgundy veins and short spikes of small white flowers that appear in early spring. Its brightly colored foliage, however, is the main reason to have this plant. Give it well-drained soil, and lift and divide it every couple of years. -Jimmy Turner, Perennials for dry shade, Fine Gardening issue #133
This heat-loving native Southwestern species has gray-green leaves and grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Orangey red, tubular blossoms cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
This native perennial wildflower of the American Southwest bears a profusion of bright yellow to golden yellow flowers atop 4-inch high plants that spread to 15 inches wide. They bloom from late summer into fall.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Spectacular Spring Bloomers
These perennials are the light at the end of the long, wintry tunnel
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Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
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Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
How to Grow Trilliums
Plant the best species for your region in fall for a spectacular display in spring
by Gene E. Bush
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