The secret is out! Gardeners have discovered the benefits of planting perennials.

Daylilies ‘Happy Returns’

Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’ is an award-winning perennial.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Cohen

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a popular perennial for fall.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Cohen

If you’re a new gardener just starting to dabble in these fabulous plants, I have three easy-care perennials for you to try – one for each season.

In late spring, after your bulbs have withered away, try a perennial salvia known as Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’. This plant grows in full sun and average soil, and once it’s established it’s quite drought-tolerant.

The upright habit, dark violet flower spikes and the dark green leaves with black stems make this an attractive plant from spring into fall. If deadheaded (removing faded flowers), ‘Caradonna’ has a long flowering season. It even makes a good cut flower! It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and thanks to its pungent foliage, the plant repels rabbits and deer. (But is it pungent to humans? Well, it’s like perfume – some may think marigold foliage is unpleasant, and boxwood smells like eau de skunk. Salvia isn’t as bad as these. Scent depends on who’s sniffing.)

For summer, try any daylily (Hemerocallis) cultivar. They grow in full sun to light shade in most soil types, and, once established, are even forgiving of benign neglect. (Except for plastic, daylilies are one of the easiest plants to grow.) Here are two nice choices that are available across the entire country:

‘Happy Returns’ is a charming canary yellow with dark green foliage. It’s 18 inches tall and begins blooming in early summer – and continues to flower sporadically until frost. It’s very heat-tolerant and has received several awards of merit.

On the daylily popularity poll, ‘Stella de Oro’ is always one of the top sellers. Its bright gold flower is edged with mildly fluted ruffles. This plant blooms in early summer and continues strutting its stuff into early fall. This is another award-winning daylily.

This may sound silly, but a daylily only blooms one day. So as gardeners, we should look for daylilies that have a high bud count or those that have reblooming capabilities. An inexpensive older cultivar may produce five to six flowers per stem. Some of the newer ones can go as high as 30 blooms! 
Lastly, a plant for fall that can be used for winter interest, too – Autumn stonecrop (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’(‘Herbstfreude’). This is one of the most popular perennials for fall use on the market today. (Your grandma may have talked about planting “Never Die,” which is what they used to call it.)

In spring, this plant emerges as a minute cabbage. Then as summer progresses, it begins to resemble broccoli, and in late summer it begins to produce deep rose, flat flowers on top of small, rounded succulent leaves. As the flowers age, they begin to bronze. The seed heads stay attractive and are left up to enhance the winter garden. The plant is easy to grow in full sun and in most soils, and it’s quite drought-tolerant. It grows 24 inches or more, depending on your soil type.

Let these easy-care perennials just be the start of your perennial love – they should inspire you to try others! Have fun with them, and happy gardening!