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It is time to plant flowers in our yards. Many of us traditionally plant annuals (plants that die at the end of the season), such as petunias and marigolds. These and the many other annuals we plant are beautiful, but there are also many spectacular perennials that have long bloom seasons that do not have to be replanted every year. Keep in mind that perennials are not necessarily lower maintenance than annuals. However, they open a wider array of textures and flower styles that add interest to the yard. The following are among the easiest to grow and longest blooming but include just a few of the many wonderful options.
Hummingbird Mint (Anise Hyssop): There are several species and cultivars available in commerce. Most prefer hot sun and are moderately to extremely drought-hardy. Flower color varies from white to almost red. They generally reach 18-30 inches high and wide and bloom from July to October. Both the foliage and flowers are fragrant and attract many beneficial insects into the yard. Be sure to check the cold hardiness of individual cultivars. Some will only survive on the Wasatch Front, while others are fine in colder mountain valleys.
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia): Most blanket flower species are North American Natives. They have beautiful daisy-like flowers from late May to first frost. Each plant grows to 9-12 inches tall and around 2 feet wide. Gaillardia do not tolerate being over-watered and are perfectly happy being deep soaked every 7-14 days depending on the soil and temperature. They do need to be deadheaded weekly.
Gaura (Whirling Butterfly): Whirling Butterfly blooms from June to frost. It loves heat and is relatively drought-hardy. The plants are best used in groupings and attract many beneficial insects into the yard. Because of the profuse number of flowers produced, periodic deadheading is a must to encourage new flowers. To do so, use hedging shears or similar to cut spent flowers back to the tops of the plants. New flowers are produced within a week or so after. These are best grown along the Wasatch Front and warmer areas.
Yellow Corydalis: This is one of the few plants that blooms from June to frost that thrives in shaded locations. It lives for 3-5 years but reseeds itself readily. Plants reach 18-24 inches high and wide and tolerate most soil. Although they do not like their feet excessively wet, do not drought-stress them.
Japanese Anemone (Windflower): Japanese anemone also tolerates shade. It offers height in landscape situations, ornamental foliage and late summer to fall flowers. They are generally available for purchase by mid-summer and not as much in the spring. There are also other anemone species that bloom at other periods during the growing season. Flowers, depending on the cultivar, are similar in appearance to daisies or poppies. Windflower is somewhat slow to establish. However, once it does, it fills in well.
Stella D' Oro Daylily: This is among the most popular perennials, especially among the hundreds of daylilies available. It blooms for 2-3 months in the middle of the growing season with yellow-orange flowers. Besides occasional deadheading and cutting back in the fall, there is little required maintenance for this plant to thrive. Divide it every 3-5 years to maintain production of profuse flowers. Stella D' Oro daylily performs well in part shade to full sun.