Perennials are the backbone of any garden. Every spring, we anticipate their beautiful scents and colors. Over time, they come to define our landscape and become friends that we get to know better each year. There are countless zone 5 varieties to choose from, but here are some of our perennial favorites.
Also known as Threadleaf, the fine, dainty leaves of this perennial give beautiful texture to your landscape. Its cheery yellow blooms emerge reliably every year from early summer into fall. Tough, sun-loving, and tolerant of road salt, it makes an ideal addition to any naturalized garden or traditional border.
This wildflower will become a jewel of your perennial garden. Its globular pink blossoms are famous for attracting butterflies, especially the Monarchs, who lay their eggs on Milkweed leaves. It offers sweetly scented blossoms throughout the summer, and fluffy seed heads in the fall, and requires very little maintenance. They also host a variety of other beneficial bugs that help to manage pests in your garden.
Bee Balm Grape Lollipop
This Bee Balm cultivar is known for its spicy, sweet fragrance and vibrant, purple petals. Its compact growing habit—reaching 20 inches in height and spread—makes it great for planting among a mixture of other perennials. As the name implies, pollinators also love this one, especially bees and hummingbirds. They are just as much attracted to Bee Balm as we are!
This perennial is not only for cats, but for anyone who loves a soothing fragrance. Low-maintenance and long-blooming, it’s great for beginner gardeners, though plenty of experts also blend it into their beds. Its cool purple-blue flowers make a pleasing contrast with any red, orange, or yellow blossoms in your landscape. Catmint is an excellent choice to add to your color pallet, and your garden will be bathed in its relaxing aroma.
The vibrant, spiky blooms of the Astilbe lend exquisite charm to your border. As a water lover, Astilbe is one of the rare plants that prefer wet feet. Its fern-like foliage provides visual interest throughout the season, while its impressive blossoms and sweet aroma steal the show in late summer. The raspberry-colored spikes are so appealing, you’ll wish you could eat them like tufts of cotton candy!
This hosta is a true classic perennial. This shade-loving plant adds character to your yard’s shadowy spots. It produces pretty lavender flowers that rise above the mounded foliage, and its variegated leaves catch your eye with a blend of white and green. The thick leaves contrast nicely with the feather-like Threadleaf or the fluffy magenta blooms of Astilbe Visions.
Need a pop of color in your shade garden? This beautiful Coral Bells cultivar is your go-to. Its fantastic foliage brightens your garden throughout the season, while the pink-cream flowers win your heart in early summer. Although it’s a shade lover, this variety can withstand a hot spell, and like all of our favorite perennials, it thrives with minimal maintenance. The name says it all: what’s not to “love” about Lemon Love?
Planting perennials can be the most creative part of gardening. They add structure, shape, and color to your landscape. To design an abundant garden, it’s helpful to consult a planting chart and essential to plant varieties that thrive in Chicagoland. With good selections—and perhaps some advice from your local garden center—your perennials will keep blooming year after year.
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.