When your garden is at its peak bloom, don’t you wish you could press a pause button so it could look that way all year? Dreams can come true, though maybe not precisely the way you’ve imagined it. You can get weeks and maybe even a couple of months of colorful enjoyment when you choose the right plants. Take a look at this collection of four long-blooming plants and you’ll find a range of types, colors, sizes and shapes that will give you the garden you’ve always dreamed of.
Keep in mind that any plant looks and flowers best when it has the right amount of light, the right soil and just enough water. Look below for some specific growing information; thankfully, these plants aren't too picky. Fill your garden with them, and say hello to long-blooming color.
Celosia (Celosia argentea cristata)
For head-turning color that lasts a month or more, celosia is your go-to annual and comes in shades of red, yellow, magenta, pink and orange. The unusual blooms are a natural focal point for containers or borders and make great cut flowers for fresh bouquets or dried arrangements. The various cultivars are grouped together according to flower shape. The two you’re most likely to come across in the garden center are cockscomb, such as this Twisted™ Orange cockscomb celosia pictured at top, and plume celosias, such as the red and yellow First Flame™ mix pictured here. When temperatures get hot in summer — 95 degrees F and higher — you’ll notice that celosia slows down on flowering. But keep watering and feeding and once it cools down plants will take off again.
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Continuous in red, burgundy, orange, yellow, green, pink, cream and salmon spring or summer to frost Light Full sun Soil Moist, well-drained Size 6 to 36 in. tall, 8 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold zones 10 to 11, heat zones 12 to 1
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata)
When you have a small garden you need to take advantage of all the available space. That’s where black-eyed Susan vine can help. This long-blooming tender perennial usually grown as an annual grows up a trellis, wall, arbor, or just a few stakes in a container with enthusiasm. You’ll have flowers from summer to fall with no deadheading needed. The most common flower color is bright yellow with a dark throat but there are other colors, too. Look for peachgold ‘Spanish Eyes’ or ‘Blushing Susie’ in shades of pink. Peach-red Sunny™ Arizona Glow above has larger blooms than most other cultivars. You’ll sometimes find plants sold just by color, such as white black-eyed Susan vine.
Type Tender perennial vine (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Continuous yellow, pink, white, red or orange summer to frost Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 3 to 8 ft. tall, vining Hardiness Cold zones 10 to 11, heat zones 12 to 1
Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora and hybrids)
This colorful native wildflower will give you plenty of flowers all summer long. Plus it’s a great addition to your summer bouquets. The species has single yellow blooms from summer until frost. But there are plenty of hybrids with different looks. Look for semidouble golden yellow ‘Early Sunrise’ or ‘Domino’, which has a similar shade of yellow and a red center. If you’re looking for a softer hue, try UpTick™ Cream and Red in the photo.
Type Perennial Blooms Yellow, orange, pink, red or white for two months in late spring to late summer Light Full sun Soil Lean, well-drained Size 10 to 32 in. tall, 10 to 28 in. wide Hardiness Cold zones 3 to 9, heat zones 9 to 1
Pincushion flower (Scabiosa spp. and hybrids)
Bring in the butterflies with pincushion flower. ‘Butterfly Blue’, above, is a popular hybrid that is known for its compact size — 12 to 18 in. tall and wide — and numerous 2-in. blooms. ‘Pink Mist’ is a little smaller at 12 to 15 in. tall and wide with pink flowers. Deadhead spent stems by cutting them back to the mound of foliage to keep a tidy look and encourage more flowers.
Type Perennial Blooms Burgundy, white, pink, red, lavender or purple in waves for three to four months from late spring to frost; can bloom all year in mild winter areas Light Full sun to part shade Soil Moist, well-drained Size 4 to 36 in. tall, 4 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold zones 3 to 10, heat zones 10 to 1