Regional Survey Results: Best Flowering Perennials for Sun

Check out what the nation’s gardeners selected

Fine Gardening - Issue 123

A couple of years ago, we asked our readers to rate flowering perennials in their region, and here are the results of that survey. Learn more about the selections by clicking on their links, or visit our Plant Guide for many more choices.


Geranium ‘Rozanne’
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

30%: ‘Rozanne’ hardy geranium (Geranium ‘Rozanne’, USDA Hardiness Zones 5–8)

27%: ‘Rocky Top’ Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis ‘Rocky Top’, Z 3–9)

24%: ‘David’ garden phlox (Phlox paniculata ‘David’, Z 4–8)

11%: ‘Little Joe’ Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’, Z 3–9)

8%: ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’, Z 5–9)

Voter comment: There are no downsides to the prolific blue-violet blooms, healthy foliage, and ultrapolite spreading habit of ‘Rozanne’ hardy geranium. It is an award winner that should be welcome in any perennial bed.
Cheryl Crawford, Harshaw, Wisconsin


Geranium ‘Rozanne’
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

26%: ‘Rozanne’ hardy geranium (Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Zones 5–8)

25%: ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Becky’, Z 5–8)

20%: ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta × faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’, Z 4–8)

16%: ‘Caradonna’ salvia (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, Z 5–9)

13%: ‘Arizona Sun’ blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata ‘Arizona Sun’, Z 3–9)

Voter comment: This geranium’s mounding habit and long bloom time provide a good foundation for other plants in my garden. The flowers look lovely combined with either pastels or bright colors. ‘Rozanne’ is a real workhorse.
Kim Scott, Vienna, Virginia


Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Becky’
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

31%: ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Becky’, Zones 5–8)

30%: ‘Happy Returns’ daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’, Z 3–9)

16%: ‘Sunray’ coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunray’, Z 4–9)

14%: ‘Rozanne’ hardy geranium (Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Z 5–8)

9%: ‘Purple Dome’ New England aster (Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’, Z 4–8)

Voter comment: I chose ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy because it blooms all summer. Most gardeners depend on their annuals to do that, but I like the consistency and dependability of my perennials. ‘Becky’ also has a pop of white that draws my eye to it.
Darlene Tanner, Medina, Tennessee

Gulf Coast

Asclepias tuberosa
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bob Cook

35%: Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 4–9)

25%: ‘Purple Showers’ Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’, Z 8–11)

22%: Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha, Z 9–11)

10%: Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella and cvs., Z 10–11)

8%: Blue porter weed (Stachytarpheta urticifolia, Z 9–11)

Voter comment: Butterfly weed is my region’s best flower for sun because its flowers are attractive, it is heat and drought tolerant, and its leaves’ toxic sap is tolerated by hungry monarch butterfly larvae, thus making them inedible to predators.
Sigrid Benson, Gulf Breeze, Florida


Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner

32%: ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3–11)

26%: ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Becky’, Z 5–8)

18%: ‘Firewitch’ cheddar pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’, Z 3–8)

13%: ‘Zagreb’ coreopsis (Corepsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’, Z 4–9)

11%: ‘Kobold’ liatris (Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’, Z 4–9)

Voter comment: ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum is cold hardy, drought tolerant, and disease resistant. Nothing seems to eat it above or below the ground. Even if ignored the rest of the year, ‘Autumn Joy’ will reward you with flowers that brighten a fading, latesummer garden.
Liz Stanley, West Suffield, Connecticut

Upper Plains

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner

35%: ‘Magnus’ purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’, Zones 3–9)

24%: Tall bearded iris (Iris cvs., Z 3–8)

15%: ‘Bluebird’ delphinium (Delphinium ‘Bluebird’, Z 3–7)

14%: ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Becky’, Z 5–8)

12%: Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta cvs., Z 3–8)

Voter comment: For me, ‘Magnus’ purple coneflower has a strong upright habit and long bloom time. Goldfinches love the seeds in fall, and in winter, the snow sits precariously on whatever the birds don’t eat.
Cindy Tate, Omaha, Nebraska

Lower Plains

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

45%: ‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Zones 4–9)

21%: Autumn sage (Salvia greggii and cvs., Z 7–9)

13%: Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri and cvs., Z 6–9)

11%: Louisiana iris (Iris spp. and cvs., Z 6–9)

10%: Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum, Z 7–11)

Voter comment: ‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susan is one of the few flowers that is perky and happy in our hottest, driest summers here in eastern Kansas. It naturalizes well and blends in with my other natives. And its bright color and long-stemmed heads are nice to add to arrangements.
Joan Vibert, Ottawa, Kansas


Penstemon cardinalis
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of High Country Gardens

29%: Cardinal penstemon (Penstemon cardinalis, Zones 5–9)

26%: Hummingbird mint (Agastache cana, Z 6–11)

24%: Germander sage (Salvia chamaedryoides, Z 7–11)

14%: Desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua, Z 6–10)

7%: Desert zinnia (Zinna grandiflora, Z 4–9)

Voter comment: I chose cardinal penstemon because it grows readily in our compacted clay soil. Penstemon likes our hot, dry summers, and hummingbirds love to sip nectar from the red flowers.
Irma Rudolph, Sun City, California


Sedum telephium ‘Matrona’
Photo/Illustration: Jennifer Benner

32%: ‘Matrona’ sedum (Sedum telephium ‘Matrona’, Zones 4–9)

22%: Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri and cvs., Z 6–9)

20%: ‘Devil’s Tears’ phygelius (Phygelius × rectus ‘Devil’s Tears’, Z 8–9)

16%: Knautia (Knautia macedonica, Z 5–9)

10%: Sticky Jerusalem sage (Phlomis russeliana, Z 3–9)

Voter comment: I believe that ‘Matrona’ sedum is best because it is drought tolerant, provides multiseasonal interest, and has a great leaf shape to play off ornamental grasses.
Hollye Maxwell, Portland, Oregon

Rocky Mountains

Agastache Desert Sunrise®
Photo/Illustration: David Salman/High Country Gardens

30%: Desert Sunrise® hyssop (Agastache Desert Sunrise®, Zones 5–10)

26%: Variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’, Z 4–9)

25%: ‘Indian Summer’ brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’, Z 4–9)

12%: Oriental fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale, Z 5–10)

7%: Mesa Verde® ice plant (Delosperma ‘Kelaidis’, Z 4–8)

Voter comment: I chose Desert Sunrise® hyssop because it blooms during summer, is xeric, and attracts hummingbirds. Even better is that it’s low maintenance and good looking.
Sue O’Neill, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Congratulations to Anna Fox of Addison, Illinois, who was randomly selected from all voters to win a $200 gift certificate from Bluestone Perennials.

View Comments


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