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Instant impact perennials for your garden

By: Garden Gate staff
Not all perennials take a couple of years to get going. These 5 instant impact perennials can be planted and enjoyed in the same year — no waiting!

When you think of instant impact, do annuals come to mind? They only have one year to show off, so they bloom like mad while they can. But an annual garden needs to be updated each spring, which gets time consuming and expensive.

Perennials that look good right away

The next time you’re looking for a pick-me-up plant for your space, try one of the 5 stunning instant impact perennials below. They may not reach full size within the first year, but they hit the ground running — you’ll get bright flowers and bold foliage in no time! In fact, all of these perennials here bloom the first year they're planted, even if you start them from seed. Add one or two to your existing perennial border, or start a new garden. If you use these plants, you’ll be getting compliments on it — even in its very first year.

Also see: 6 dependable perennials for any garden

Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum striatum)

This is a fantastic basic perennial: It’s durable, it’s attractive and it puts on a beautiful show in its first year. Cranesbill is durable but does best in early summer’s cool weather. If the foliage begins to lag once the blooms have finished, shear back the leaves to the plant’s crown to encourage new growth. The foliage turns red in fall.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink to purple in early summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 6 to 9 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 8

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum)

Shasta daisies look fantastic the very first year you plant them, whether you start them from seed or buy starts from the nursery. And they make long-lasting cut flowers — you get instant impact outdoors and in! To get lots of vigorous blooms like the ‘Alaska’ daisies here, pick the flowers or keep them deadheaded.

Type Perennial Blooms White with yellow centers in summer Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 10 to 40 in. tall, 12 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9

Blackberry lily (Iris domestica)

Brightly colored flowers, stunning seed clusters — this perennial adds plenty of color and texture to the summer garden in short order! Blackberry lily is a short-lived perennial, but if you don’t deadhead (after all, the seeds are part of this plant’s attraction!), you can have blackberry lilies for years to come. The plants self-seed lightly, and also spread by rhizomes.

Type Perennial Blooms Deep-orange blooms spotted with dark red dots in summer followed by blackberry-like clusters of seeds Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Drought-tolerant with an extremely long bloom time, blanket flower should be divided every spring to help keep it going strong, just like Goblin (‘Kobold’) above.

Type Perennial Blooms Red flowers with yellow centers or yellow tips in early summer to midfall Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, rich, well-drained Size 1 to 3 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 10

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Bugleweed is grown for its blue or pink spring flowers and for its foliage. Bugleweed does just fine in part shade, but its foliage gets the best color in full sun. Choose from cultivars with bright, glossy green to deep purple-black to green-brown leaves, like ‘Toffee Chip’ here sports. It’s a fast grower that will quickly fill in the bare spots under trees or on steep slopes.

Type Perennial Blooms Blue or pink in spring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained Size 3 to 10 in. tall, 10 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 9

Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum striatum)

This is a fantastic basic perennial: It’s durable, it’s attractive and it puts on a beautiful show in its first year. Cranesbill is durable but does best in early summer’s cool weather. If the foliage begins to lag once the blooms have finished, shear back the leaves to the plant’s crown to encourage new growth. The foliage turns red in fall.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink to purple in early summer Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 6 to 9 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 8

Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Drought-tolerant with an extremely long bloom time, blanket flower should be divided every spring to help keep it going strong, just like Goblin (‘Kobold’) above.

Type Perennial Blooms Red flowers with yellow centers or yellow tips in early summer to midfall Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, rich, well-drained Size 1 to 3 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 10

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum)

Shasta daisies look fantastic the very first year you plant them, whether you start them from seed or buy starts from the nursery. And they make long-lasting cut flowers — you get instant impact outdoors and in! To get lots of vigorous blooms like the ‘Alaska’ daisies here, pick the flowers or keep them deadheaded.

Type Perennial Blooms White with yellow centers in summer Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 10 to 40 in. tall, 12 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 4 to 9

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Bugleweed is grown for its blue or pink spring flowers and for its foliage. Bugleweed does just fine in part shade, but its foliage gets the best color in full sun. Choose from cultivars with bright, glossy green to deep purple-black to green-brown leaves, like ‘Toffee Chip’ here sports. It’s a fast grower that will quickly fill in the bare spots under trees or on steep slopes.

Type Perennial Blooms Blue or pink in spring Light Full sun to part shade Soil Well-drained Size 3 to 10 in. tall, 10 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy USDA zones 3 to 9

Blackberry lily (Iris domestica)

Brightly colored flowers, stunning seed clusters — this perennial adds plenty of color and texture to the summer garden in short order! Blackberry lily is a short-lived perennial, but if you don’t deadhead (after all, the seeds are part of this plant’s attraction!), you can have blackberry lilies for years to come. The plants self-seed lightly, and also spread by rhizomes.

Type Perennial Blooms Deep-orange blooms spotted with dark red dots in summer followed by blackberry-like clusters of seeds Light Full sun Soil Well-drained Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 2 ft. wide Hardiness Cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 to 10

Published: May 21, 2019
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