Penstemon digitalis, 'Husker Red'

Easy Care Perennials Q&A

Easy Care Perennials, By Pat Curran, Horticulture Educator, Tompkins County Cooperative Extension
(Originally published in June 2011)

Question: What are some easy-care perennials that bloom right now?

Two kinds of perennial foxglove are blooming right now and have good deer resistance. Digitalis grandiflora, the yellow foxglove, has large soft yellow flowers that go well with everything. If allowed to self-sow, it forms a handsome colony. Digitalis x mertonensis, the strawberry foxglove, has rosy flowers and exceptionally handsome foliage. This hybrid foxglove may need dividing every 2 or 3 years for it to persist, but it will also produce a few seedlings. When I finally renovated a flower bed that had been overgrown with Canada goldenrod last fall, I found good-sized seedlings that had persisted through years of shade cast by the goldenrod. Now they are in bloom. Both these foxgloves thrive in morning sun or light shade. Another perennial that will take light shade is the peach-leafed bellflower, in shades of lavender-blue or white. Clumps of this separated by color go very well with the yellow foxglove. Astilbe loves partial shade and moist soil. Some kinds are blooming right now, and other varieties bloom later.

For sunny spots, Penstemon 'Husker Red' is a handsome native plant with white flowers and reddish leaves. Baptisia, native plants now available in different-colored selections, are either in bloom or will be soon. Baptisia is easy care, but requires a couple of years to 'beef up' and bloom. Perennial geranium 'Rozanne' is in full bloom and will continue for several months.

For more information on gardening, including plant bloom times, consult the Cornell gardening website or call the horticultural hotline at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County at 272-2292.

Last updated January 3, 2015