There’s nothing more rewarding than having a continuously blooming garden all year round, right? And the most logical way to achieve this is to choose perennial plants with a long flowering season, as well as plant varieties, which will showcase their vivid colours at different times of the year.
With this article, we’ll explore exactly that – what long-lasting plant species in the UK will create a continuous display of colourful hues throughout the year, even in the winter. So, naturally, you’ll need to know what blend of early spring, mid-summer and late-flowering perennial plants you should select, in order to have a constant palette of colours and shades in your garden that will please your eye year after year. You will also learn a few tricks on how to extend the length of the blooming period of plants, be it by deadheading, pinching or through simple pruning techniques.
Some mild-weather regions in the UK see spring arriving as early as the last week of February or the beginning of March. And with the first sun rays come the blooms of various perennial bulbs, corms and tubers, which splash their purples, yellows and whites for weeks.
So, for a low-maintenance, colourful outdoors in the spring, consider the following easy-to-grow early bloomers:
- Snowdrop (Galanthus) These popular early blooming pretties are perennials that herald the arrival of spring. Depending on the area you live in, you can expect to see their delicate white drops appearing as early as January till late February-March.
- Crocus (Crocus) Another early spring, low-maintenance and must-have bloomer, which provides interest and enjoyment when there’s very little colour in your dormant garden. With its flame-like, stemless flowers, showing up overnight, the clump-forming plant, grown from corms, can go on flowering for several weeks.
- Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis) The beautiful flower with delicate, fragrant blossoms will appear in the spring and bloom for at least a month. The early-flowering perennial tends to invade the space of other plants, however. So, to avoid this, you can grow the plant as a ground-cover in a hard-to-maintain designated area with plenty of shade.
- Daffodil (Narcissus) They come in many varieties and bloom from 6 weeks to 4-5 months (from late January until late May), depending on the climate and the cultivar type. Once the flowering period ends, you should leave the plant as it is. This helps the daffodil rebuild its bulb and restore its energy for the following year. You can cut back the foliage when it turns yellow.
- Freesia (Freesia) Freesias are long-flowering perennial plants that grow from corms and have strong and delightful fragrance. They can be started off in a greenhouse and transplanted later outdoors, offering you a rainbow of colours for 3 solid months – from white and light pink, yellow, orange and red to light and dark purple.
- Hyacinth (Hyacinthus) The magnificent, strong-scented hyacinth is a hardy perennial, which can bloom for 8 to 12 weeks. It is recommended that the new bulbs are dug out after the flowering period, stored in cool dark conditions, and then replanted in the autumn for best blooming results in the following spring.
- Winter Aconite (Eranthis) These early-spring woodland plants thrive best under deciduous trees or shrubs. They can easily bloom for up to 6 weeks, so you can enjoy a bright yellow display from early February until late March.
Summer’s flowering delights
Some perennial flowers bloom from late spring to early autumn, which means your garden will be lit up in colour throughout the hottest months. Read on to find out which are the top summer pirrenial flowers:
- Crane’s-bill (Geranium) A hardy perennial that comes in a variety of colours and blooms for months until late summer. It prefers moist but well-drained soil conditions, which you can achieve by applying various soil water retention techniques. To encourage ongoing flowering, regularly deadhead spent blossoms.
- Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium Caeruleum) It is not the longest blooming plant (4 to 6 weeks in the summer months) but with its pretty dark blue flowers, the perennial plant can become a gorgeous addition to the palette of garden colours in the peak of the summer season. And again, to prolong flowering, deadhead as soon as you spot any wilting flowers.
- Catmint (Nepeta) Like geranium, catmint is a long-lasting perennial that can be “forced” to flower continuously from late spring till early autumn by cutting the plant back after each spell of vigorous blooming and of course, by regular deadheading.
- Lavender (Lavandula) Not only a perfect mosquito-repellent plant for the often humid and hot British summers but also a pretty-to-look-at perennial with a strong and pleasant scent. Some varieties, like the French Lavender, bloom continuously for months through the summer.
- Phlox (Phlox) The pastel pinks, blues and purples of the fluffy phlox plant will give you plenty of enjoyment all summer long till late August or into mid-September. The perennial is ideal to form your garden edges and offers not only an array of colours but also layers of texture to your landscape and plantlife design space.
- Coneflower (Echinacea) A long-flowering summer perennial flower, also known as Ehinacea, which grows in yellow, orange, white, pink, and light purple hues. Deadheading, however, is a must if you wish to enjoy the blooms of the health-beneficial plant for longer, until late summer.
Late-season blooming perennials
We may associate autumn in Britain with dreary weather and lots of rain. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a garden full of colours, as there are plenty of flowering plants that bloom later in the year.
- Stonecrop (Sedum) Boost the blooming period of the hardy succulent perennials by cutting them back, so they grow bushier and stronger. Although, pretty drought-tolerant, sedum plants (stonecrops) do prefer regular watering. If provided with the right conditions, you can appreciate their spectacular flowers until later in the season.
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum) A typical autumn perennial that can provide your garden with a long-lasting splash of colours well into late November if the conditions are right. The pretty flowers come in all shades and tones and can withstand cold weather until the first frost sets in.
- Vervain (Verbena) Like many other plant varieties, verbenas can be grown as annuals and perennials. They have a long-flowering period if cut back regularly after each flush of bloom – from mid summer until late autumn.
- Sneezeweed (Helenium) These sun-loving perennials (Helenium) thrive in water-retentive soil and will fill out your garden with bright yellow, orange and red colours gradually, well into the autumn. Improve their growing conditions by adding organic compost matter to the soil.
We’ll list just a few out of many to encourage you to grow some spectacular winter-flowering perennials and discard the belief that gardens in the winter are always dormant. Or should we say – dull and boring?
- Springwood white (Erica Carnea) A reliable heather with long white flowers, which is hardy and resilient to diseases and pests. Still, you need to watch for powdery mildew problems and root rot. It can be planted in containers, as well.
- Wintersweet (Chimonanthus Praecox) A deciduous shrub with strong-scented waxy yellow flowers, which may take at least a couple of years to bloom. But once it does, you’ll enjoy its spicy fragrance and a beautiful display of colour in the winter months, especially if you’ve trained the plant to grow against a sunny wall.
- Jacqueline Postill (Daphne Bholua) A Nepalese high-altitude mountain shrub with white flowers and intoxicating fragrance, which will light up your winter garden, even in low temperatures. Its evergreen dark-green foliage against the white blossom stands rather impressive and will spark some envious looks among your neighbours.
The long list of gorgeous flowering perennials doesn’t end here, of course. And what you decide to add to your garden collection of plant varieties will naturally depend on the region you live in, the soil in your exterior space and the climate conditions during different seasons. For a better understanding of the blooming periods of different plants, you can always refer to this comprehensive perennial plants flowering times guide and design a garden of long-lasting colours all year round.
Did you find this post helpful? Or do you have a favourite long-flowering perennial plant that is thriving in your garden? Then, why not drop us a line in the comments below and share your thoughts with our readers?
Posted in Garden Advice
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