Gardening columnist shares greatest perennials for mid-summer bloom


When choosing perennials for flowerbeds and landscapes, it is most worthwhile to include a variety of species so that something blooms in the spring, summer, and fall and an ever-changing interest throughout the growing season. Perennial flowers that bloom continuously from spring to autumn have not yet been created.

This is followed by perennials that bloom at summer height.

Lily. Real lilies, with leaves spread along an upright stem and growing from an underground bulb, are perhaps the most dramatic summer-flowering perennial. There are several lily classifications, and all of them deserve a prime spot in the perennial garden. Asiatic lilies show bold upturned flowers in many colors. Trumpet lilies show huge, royal, horn-shaped flowers with a heavenly scent. Breeders have even developed hybrids between species of lily, such as the newer orienpet species.

Trumpet lilies, like the Rising Moon variety, are dramatic and fragrant midsummer perennials. David Samson / The Forum

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Daylily. While not real lilies, these hardy perennials have strap-shaped foliage that comes from a central crown of fleshy roots. There’s a color for everyone, and the newer hybrids are big improvements over Grandma’s daylilies, with vibrant hues and huge flower sizes and fascinating shapes.

Phlox. These hardy perennials are known as the large garden phlox or phlox paniculata and add high accents to the perennial flower garden in a rainbow of colors including white, pink, rose, lavender, purple and two-tone. Older varieties are prone to powdery mildew diseases, which cause leaves and stems to die off. Look for newer strains that list disease resistance. A great cut flower for summer bouquets.

Shasta daisies. Classic white daisies enchant wherever they are planted. Look for newer, named hybrids with larger flowers and heights indicated for either tall or short locations.

Becky is a strain that improves upon the Shasta daisy variety.  David Samson / The Forum

Becky is a strain that improves upon the Shasta daisy variety. David Samson / The Forum

Sun hat. These colorful perennials, also called echinacea, are pollinator and butterfly magnets. They aren’t as long-lived as some perennial species, but they’re worth planting for their three- or four-year lifespan. Included on most deer resistant plant lists.

Rudbeckia. These bright, sun-colored perennials are nicknamed the Black-Eye Susan. Large selection for the pollinator garden. Keep dead flowers away for prolonged flower production. Rabbit and deer resistant.

Monarda. Also known as bee balm, the brightly colored red, rose and lavender tones are available in large and dwarf varieties. Older species are prone to powdery mildew diseases, so check label descriptions to find disease-resistant varieties.

Coreopsis. Low-growing mounds in yellow, pink, or white are perfect additions to the flower garden border.

Astilbe. Plant growers were busy creating shades of pink, rose, red, lavender, purple, and apricot. These pinnate flower forms can be grown in the shade or in the sun, and some varieties even have burgundy colored foliage.

Veronica is a favorite of bees and butterflies.  David Samson / The Forum

Veronica is a favorite of bees and butterflies. David Samson / The Forum

Veronica. Friendly bees and butterflies are sure to find what they are looking for with spike-shaped flowers of lavender, lavender, blue and pink.

Perennial geranium. The hill-shaped shape fits well on the edge of flower gardens or landscapes. Although it resists rabbits, butterflies love it and it can be grown in partial shade.

Hosta. No list of summer perennials would be complete without hosta. Most species are best known for their colorful foliage and are best for shade or partial shade. Label descriptions indicate varieties that can tolerate sunshine. Some varieties of hosta have beautiful, fragrant flowers that are worth enjoying while others have less attractive stems that can be removed as they form.

Don Kinzler, a Lifelong Gardener, is a Gardener with the North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at